Dragon Age II demo impressions

Posted: February 23, 2011 by Tony Polanco in REVIEWS

Ever since Dragon Age II was announced, many fans have been worried about the direction that the series would head into.  Many feared that like with the transition from Mass effect 1 to 2, everything that they knew about the original game would be scrapped to appease the casual crowd.  After having played the demo with all three character classes, I can assure everyone that Dragon Age is as you remember it…but better.  Hit the jump to find out more.

The demo begins with you and one of your party members fighting off the darkspawn.  Here is where you will notice a lot of the upgrades to battles that we have been hearing about over the last few months.  Unlike Dragon Age Origins, the battles in Dragon Age II are absolutely vicious and ferocious.  Gone are the slow paced fights of old.  You can pause the game via the abilities wheel like in the first game and you can still assign actions to the face buttons for quicker access but it all feels more immediate and this was a very welcomed change indeed.  My concern however is with the possible fatigue that may arise since you are now required to manually hit the attack button for every attack.  This is alright for a ten hour action game but it will be interesting to see how gamers’ thumbs will hold up after pressing the attack button for countless hours.  Besides that one worry I am very pleased with the way combat has been updated.

The biggest change of all is in the graphics department.  Dragon Age Origins was…not the prettiest game out there. Actually it was downright ugly most of the time.  Thankfully the art style of DAO has been ditched for a more stylized and cleaner look.  I was actually in awe of my environment when I walked around, something that rarely happened in DAO.  Character models also benefit from this new art style by being more easy on the eyes with their smooth textures and stylized faces and body proportions.  The game simply looks stunning.  My only real problem with the graphics was the drastic redesign of two of the old characters. They both looked completely different and if it wasn’t for people saying their names, I would not have known who they were.  I don’t mind redesigns, especially for a series that needed it but it would have been better if these original characters retained more of their original core design to at least let us know who they are.

Overall I am very happy with the direction that the Dragon Age series has taken. The menu system and battles have been streamlined but still retain that level of complexity that is required for an rpg. Fans of the old game do not need to fear that the game mechanics that they loved have been completely ditched. This is still Dragon Age but it’s just been refined to make it more user friendly and eye pleasing.

I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the final version of the game when it is released on March 8th on the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and download this demo for the system of your choice. The Champion of Kirkwall awaits you!

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