Dragon Age II at Eurogamer Expo

Bear with me fans of Dragon Age, I never played the first one so I have no idea how cool it was nor, for that matter, how bad it might have been. All I know is it was long and it had a huge back story.

Finding Dragon Age II in here took a day, and if anyone who went to Eurogamer 2010 and wanted to check this game out but never spotted it (it wasn’t listed in the guide map handed out on the way in), don’t worry too much, I doubt very much you would have been able to tell whether this new one’s going to be a winner from this demo.

The queues were three men deep (well, it was all men queueing when I was there), which doesn’t sound too bad considering the mile long line of gamer nerds stretching out round the back of Brink’s 8+ screens, but when each demo takes twenty minutes to play through, an hour of staring over someone else’s shoulder makes a man want the game at the end of it to be worth the wait. Which it wasn’t. What you get at the end of that hour is twenty minutes of hack and slash coupled with the pleasure of straining to hear any audio through the headsets provided. Now does that sound like worth an hour of your life waiting for? If it does, good for you. Off you toddle now, there’s nothing else to see here. You can pre-order it all over the net and it comes out in March next year. What else do you need to know?

And now they’ve gone, let’s get on with the bitching. Nah, just kidding, there’s nothing much to actually bitch about except that after the short demo I’ve come away with no idea whether this game’s good or not.

You start out dropped into a barren, scorched earth wilderness with a sidekick, after you’ve chosen which class you’re going to be – Rogue, Warrior, some kind of spiritual type that I can’t remember even though in the demo there was both a paladin and an apostle so it’s going to be one of those – and then the slashing kicks off. A few waves of Hurlock come at you, some with crossbows, others with swords, and it’s pretty easy to cut these grunts down. They look like a cross between the warrior gorillas from Planet Of The Apes and the freaky aliens in Pitch Black. So that’s alright then.

After watching everyone in front of me choose to be warriors, I plumbed for the more personally realistic rogue fella – two blades and lots of sneakiness. It didn’t make much difference, it was all button bashing mayhem whatever character you chose to play as.

The face buttons have one for the basic attack and three for little extras that you could only pull off when their onscreen meters filled up. These you can upgrade and juggle as and when you level up with some weapon/upgrade tree menus.

I hope this isn’t the finished product because the graphics in the cut scenes need sharpening up. There were plenty of blocky, jagged lines in every one, though the emotional expressions on the characters in those scenes looked really impressive, enigmatic even at times.

At least standing in the queue gave me an opportunity to see the differences between each character’s storyline, and I can’t say there was much of a difference to any of them in this demo. It’s completely linear, funnelling you along a path, popping up Hurlocks along the way, giving you a big, meaty Ogre to have a go at, adding new members to your team as you go and letting you jump from each one at will. Magic or sword, speed or strength, you had all the options at your finger tips for every fight.

The Ogre was having a few problems, getting stuck mid-charge in a boulder but still running away like mad as if he’s doing the ogre Moonwalk. Then after a bit of this chopping and hacking a Dragon/woman shows up, flame grills all the bad guys and hands you a mission. And that’s all you get. It wasn’t exciting, thrilling or any other ing with a positive word in front of it. It was, to be frank, pretty standard gaming.

Now if you did play the first game and you can tell me it was awesome, had a great plot, loads of amazing battles, some jaw dropping attacks and weaponry and everything else then here’s hoping this game is every bit as cool. But there’s no way in the world anyone could make a judgement on this game after 20 mins except the flippant, the mad and the people who like to leave gobby messages in comment boxes. So I’m not going to.

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Written by Neil

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4 comments

  1. (gobby message)

    your so minus sign and this article is a cow. go raccoon yourself with a lamp shade, dragon age 2 is wood.

  2. Michael J /

    I think the lesson to be learned here is 20 minute demos of story-led rpgs on a busy show floor are not such a great idea..

  3. Tell me you’re joking… not the article but the fact that you would’ve remembered Hurlock’s over Mages.

    I mean Mages, they’re like in every medieval themed videogame.

  4. Hey, the Hurlock’s looked cool and all teeth gnashy, the mage wasn’t that exciting. A big stick and some blue flashing magic – meh. What I’d like to see is a cut scene where the Hurlocks are trying to eat gravy, coz it would just spill out of the sides of their mouths and make their uniforms all grubby…

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