Nov. 25th, 2012

jackscarab: (Asplode)
In the span of these past two weeks, I have played through Dragon Age II two times on two Hawkes: the rogue Tori and the mage Avani (of course I would). I played a little of the first game after Tori's run to get some background lore, but I quickly put it down to return to run through the sequel with Avani.

Let me repeat that: I stopped playing the first game because it took valuable time away from playing the sequel for the second time in two weeks. Those who know how I love doing things in order may find that surprising.

Whereas the Mass Effect series had me adventuring throughout the galaxy over the course of about three years, DA2 kept me in the dark medieval city-state of Kirkwall and surrounding environs for seven years. It was different -- more personal, with a heavier emotional investment by proximity -- yet equally immersive due to the stellar writing in dialogue, scenario, and lore. I mean, I liked the Normandy and the Citadel, but they were just a home base and a place to visit. Stark, filthy, socially-unstable Kirkwall was "my city" for over seventy hours.

The characters were entrancingly fleshed out and well-acted. The team banter had me astounded and rolling in turn with all its vitality and personality. I never once had Aveline out of my party; she's among my favorite female video game characters. Varric was seldom absent too; I would go so far as to say he is the greatest dwarf in all of fiction this side of Discworld. I could sit and watch and listen to either of them say words for hours, twice over... which is in fact exactly what I did.

Here Bioware took up the unenviable task of making yet another Dark Ages fantasy using the Tolkien trinity of man/elf/dwarf. They succeeded well enough with the (somewhat clunky to me) first game to make a sequel which absolutely knocked it out of the park with social commentary, an excellent combat system, and an amazing cast. They built a new world with old parts and let its audience absorb its glory through a handful of masterwork characters.

I think I'm in love with Bioware, to such an extent as one can love a game-producing company.

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