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Dragon Age 2 Xbox 360 Preview

I really enjoyed Dragon Age; its mix of interesting characters, each with rich and well told back stories and individual personalities, deep involving story and fun combat system drew me in. Going through each of the classes available to you and finally settling on the Mage, I had fun going through the game and beating several thousand Darkspawn to a bloody pulp with a vast array of death inducing spells.

Here we are now, 2 years after the initial release with a sequel on the horizon, to go with the incoming release, a demo has been made available on PC, Xbox Live and PSN. I decided to take a look at the Xbox version.


This is going to be a spoiler free preview as there are some interesting plot turns and important story information in the demo that I wouldn't want to ruin for anybody.

After the initial cinematics, you are given your choice of hero/heroine. Your choices are between a magic wielding Mage capable of blasting all around you to smithereens with fireball and elemental area of effect attacks , the sneaky Rogue who prefers single target combat with interesting abilities such as back stabs and fast frenzied attacks with duel blades or the Warrior, slow to attack but has an impressive health pool allowing you to take harder hits and protect yourself and others more. With all options comes the choice between a male and female character. For the demo, my choice was a Female Mage, a choice heavily influenced by my previous Dragon Age experience. All other character customisation choices are locked for the demo.

The basic gist of the demo is that you are running from your hometown of Lothering, now completely destroyed by the Darkspawn threat. Making that escape harder is the fact that you and your family are being chased by seemingly endless waves of Hurlocks, entry level demons in the Darkspawn army.


Along the way, you meet up with a few people and kill a lot of Darkspawn and that's it really. Whilst not really sounding like the most interesting series of events, it does give you adequate time to have a good mess about with your characters abilities out on the battlefield.

The interface used for fights should be instantly familiar to those who have played the original Dragon Age. As far as I can see, nothing has actually changed. Spells and abilities are still able to be mapped to the A, Y and B buttons with a second tier of abilities available if you press one of the trigger buttons, while your generic attack is still on X. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though as this system did work in the original and as the old saying goes, "If it's not broke, don't fix it". Also unchanged is the radial menu accessed by pressing the left trigger button which pauses the game and allows you to take more time over healing or picking abilities.

Things do feel a little faster paced than before, battles have taken a turn towards being more hack and slash, however this looks to be a good thing. Fights seem to flow a lot more smoothly and the transition between enemies doesn't feel as disjointed as before. In the immortal words of Tak Fuji, if you mash XXX, YYY, XXX, then you get sucked, you still need to think about things, take time and pause the game to figure out the best plan of action for that encounter.

One thing that does seem to have changed however, is the graphics; things don't seem to be as sharp or look as nice as the original. Although graphics are a secondary concern to me when playing a game like this, I cant help but wonder why things have changed. It isn't enough to cause a massive problem though and I'm sure most people will just overlook this issue and continue on to enjoy the game, after all this is a demo and is not representative of the final product.


Overall, I did enjoy my time with the demo. Whilst not being the most interesting scenario to play through, it did give me a chance to have a play around with the different classes and to re-acquaint myself with how things work. Worth a try definitely to those who are undecided on whether to try or even for fans of the original to gauge weather things have changed for the better, or the worse.

Angelfromabove | 12th March, 2011
Dead Alive's picture
Can't say I liked the demo when I played it on the PC, felt very much like a console game, a disapointment after the original. The combat was also hugely different - again though, this could just be compared the PC original.

I'll pick this up on the Xbox, as I have no intention of putting a hundred or so hours into a frankly bad PC version, but if it's as console focused as I believe it to be, it should at least be fun there.
Angelfromabove's picture
I initially tried the PC demo...and hated it.
The Interface is awful looking, like no effort has been put into it at all and the controls just feel broken. I never played the first on PC but apparently the controls worked and was nice and playable, these however I just cant see myself getting used to.

Give the xbox version a try, it plays a lot nicer. Feels like thats where its meant to belong. On the consoles using a pad.
Dead Alive's picture
That's why I'm disappointed, it feels like it'll be fine on a console, I will play it, but the first was literally perfect on PC - playing it on a console afterwards felt awkward, which is how it should be for all games in a series I think, not one specifically for PC, then the next for console, with the other platform being an afterthought.

I'm just pissed as I still play Origins now quite a lot, because the mods I can get/make can add a new lease of life to it; this will obviously be missing now unless I put up with an annoying interface and ****e controls for my beloved Rogue.
I liked the demo but I didn't play it as a fan of Dragon Age: Origins. But overall, I enjoyed it. Lots of gore though. Not saying thats a problem. In fact, it was the best thing about the demo. :P
evilgiraffeman's picture
Originally Posted by Adam2208 View Post
I liked the demo but I didn't play it as a fan of Dragon Age: Origins. But overall, I enjoyed it. Lots of gore though. Not saying thats a problem. In fact, it was the best thing about the demo. :P
Got to say this was one thing I noticed when I saw this at GamesCom. I remember that the first one was pretty graphic, but thought they'd gone into overdrive. Still not sure about BioWare RPGs myself, they've got a great reputation and I love the settings, but I've always found them a little tricky to get into inventory and interface wise.

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