Dragon Age 2 Demo Play – Xbox 360

I haven’t played Dragon Age: Origins to be quite upfront. But, having heard that Dragon Age 2 had just hit the Xbox 360 in demo form I wasted little time hitting the download button.

"Stay awhile, staaaaaaaaay forever!" - Impossible Mission, C64. I don't know why I thought that appropriate.

My reluctance to play the original came from an amount of time spent not playing it. You know how it goes, a game becomes a hit and receives many accolades and in the back of your head you keeping thinking to yourself “I need to play this game, everyone is talking about it. It must have something special, something amazing, that I’m totally missing out on. Where are my keys?” and of course you find you’ve locked yourself out of your apartment. Time flies past, and as do the games, and your sitting there staring at a trailer for a game coming out soon that looks enticing, but it’s a sequel. I recently reviewed Dead Space 2 without having played the original and totally enjoyed my time in that game, so using that logic, I thought I may as well take a bash at this brand-spanking new demo from the cool cats at BioWare. If it has me sold on the second game via demo, having not even played one second of the original, it had to be something special – be it with game mechanics, graphics or storyline and hopefully a combination of all.

Starting the demo off I was presented with a choice of three classes. That was the mage, warrior and rogue classes each with a male and female variation. Whether that (male or female) makes up for a difference when it comes to character statistics I am unsure of. I believe the first game had in-game dialogue differences reacting to your chosen sex, as you would expect, and I suspect the same in DA2. There was a menu for customisation of your characters features, but it appeared all locked down for the demo, as did the inventory. So without further ado I entered the game as a male warrior. After the cinematics and opening cut-scene your thrust into battle against a horde of angry Hurlocks.

Say hello to my little... No! Done to death.

Now, Hurlocks rushing at me, sword drawn, I charged at them. Thumbstick pointing straight at their noggins I stumbled for a second thinking which button to press. Eventually it became apparent from the swinging and clanging action of the A button that this was the correct choice. Multiple presses of the A button saw enemies drop. Now I have to say I was kind of disappointed that the game was quickly giving me the impression I was playing a Devil May Cry styled game. Whacking on the A button seemed to do the trick. However as I progressed I was encouraged to use other abilities that, as the situation presented itself, were appropriately cool to use. Later in the demo I had a couple abilities that helped me deal with crowds of enemies. It was quite interesting really, I was starting to gather a few abilities that made me reminisce about my warrior character in World of Warcraft, and employing some of those skills and abilities into this game to carry out a similar function – that of a somewhat capable ‘tank’. Certainly when you look into the Skill Tree you will notice a lot of options that can lead you to that type of specialisation as a warrior (Please note: NOT saying that it got any inspiration from WoW – these sorts of trees have been around way before that – please don’t hurt my herb garden). It’s familiar and I like that. The gameplay itself can come in a wide variety with such a tree and I think those that like to experiment with hybrid specialisations should be entertained for a long time to come.

Quite cool really.

Exploring the menuing system also presented ‘Tactics’. Quite confused at first, I looked into it a little more and found that there is an easy way to setup certain conditions for your characters and for them to then respond to it. It allows for more control over your team without having to really ‘control’ them on the spot. For a fantastic explanation on tactics I suggest you visit this page at the Dragon Age Wiki. ‘Tactics’ sound like quite a welcoming step when considering part of my team in a game like Mass Effect, and how they would enjoy consistently running into heavy enemy fire and performing the oft-performed death dance.

Graphically I can’t say I was overally impressed. I am not sure if this is just the Xbox 360 showing it’s age or not, but it certainly didn’t raise an excitable eyebrow on me. Having said that, the game does commit to a certain art style and one that I just happen to dig. I do enjoy a large open wasteland in the background and even more so with a gigantic rock mountain at my side with a happy dragon up above. The sets, in terms of style look great, the textures not as much. Perhaps this is just another way to keep the demo size down? I am not entirely sure, but I am interested to see what the PS3 and PC version look like and how they compare because I am pretty sure Mass Effect 2 had some amazing textures on all systems (but I shouldn’t compare games just because the same company is behind them, or should I?).

If only my warrior, in WoW, did THAT when I hit Thunderclap!

I won’t get into the storyline presented, as I would probably do it a disservice not having playing the first one (or knowing much about it). So with that said, I do suggest you check it out if you are a fan of the original or if you were curious like myself. It was roughly 1.9GB on the Xbox 360 download and I imagine it would be fairly equivalent on the other platforms. It was a short demo, be a good little taste test of what’s to come our way. For what it was I enjoyed the game time and look forward to what is heading our way when the final build releases.

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.