This review is by Megan Kayne.
The lights were dim. Chinese food had arrived. Friends had been told that unless there was an emergency of epic proportion to not bother calling me for the next week. Dragon Age 2: The Rise to Power had come out and I fully intended to dedicate my time to the game. I had already picked up my Signature copy during lunch and had downloaded all the extra content available to me, so that when I got off of work for the day – I would be ready to play without pause. The gentle hum of the Xbox increased my anticipation. I settled in for what would be one of the longest weeks of my gaming life. And Bioware didn’t fail to deliver another epic story.
Start at the Beginning
Well, technically speaking, we start at the end which I found was a fun way to start the game. Whatever damage has been done….has been. A dwarf is being dragged into the Viscount’s office and the Seeker of the Chantry of Orlais is demanding answers. The dwarf begins with a rather fantastical tale of a dragon swooping out of the sky and rescuing The Champion. The Seeker interrupts him and lets him know that it would be in his best interest not to lie to her and to start telling the truth. So Varric starts over and you take control of The Champion. After fleeing the Destruction of Lothering, the Champion decides to go Kirkwall, The City of Chains, where the adventure begins with the player being told that Kirkwall…is no place for a mage.
Where some people complained about the storyteller technique, I found it a rather clever trick. Unlike in Origins where you find out in the end what happens when you choose the Elves over the Werewolves, the story is constantly changing. Choices made in Act 1 effect the goings on in Act 2. It also changes how the Seeker perceives you and the course of events that lead to some rather damaging consequences. Leaving the “reader” wondering….will Dragon Age 3 take us to Orlais and the new adventurer be a Seeker leading an Exalted March.
A New Kind of Justice
Anders is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in Dragon Age 2. Where Isabella brings a new meaning to flake, Anders brings a whole new set of vocabulary to the definition of a tortured soul. Anders’ quick wit and general boyish charm follows him from his time with The Warden in Awakening to meeting The Champion in underground Kirkwall. But we learn that time and a few other things have changed Anders. As a mage, he has the ability to tap into the Fade and, what he would later describe as an act of kindness, merged his mind and body with a Fade Spirit/Friend that The Warden recruited in Awakening by the name of Justice.
Justice was the embodiment of all that is good and fair. Anders truly felt that he was doing the right thing by becoming an abomination. He would have the power and insight of Justice and would finally be able to do some good for the mages. However, given the amount of anger Anders had towards the Templars as they were constantly hunting for him for the sheer fact that he was a mage mixed with his dislike of being a Grey Warden (the bastards made him give up his cat!) Justice quickly turned to Vengeance. The magical power of Anders combined with the Spirit of Justice/Vengeance is more uncontrollable and more dangerous than ever. And even with all The Champion’s charm and support, you have to wonder, how much can you really trust him?
The Choices We Make, Dictate the Life We Lead
Keeping true to Origins and Awakening, Dragon Age 2 reminds us that all actions (and non-actions) have consequences. Even the choice of your character class has consequences which I thought was really different – this decision impacts your family as it decides which one your younger siblings doesn’t leave Fereldan. It also seems to have a slight impact on the story itself because even your companions view you differently depending on your character class. The decisions The Champion makes ranges from whether you join the Mercenaries or the Smugglers during your first year of indentured servitude to forming friendships or rivalries with their companions to who lives and who dies. And ultimately, your final decision rests with one simple question. Just whose side are you on – The Mages or the Templars? Making this decision doesn’t just affect you as The Champion, but it also forces your companions to decide whether or not they will stand with you in the end….and not everyone will.
About the Author:
Megan Kayne is a VP of Admin and Licensed Massage Therapist. When not tweaking her latest written chapters, she can be found playing a game on her Xbox or having an intellectual sparring match with her friends.