Review: Dragon Age II: Legacy

Posted: August 1, 2011 by: Meghann O'Neill

So, is blood really thicker than water? And where do your loyalties lie?

Along gaming’s March of Progress, every game leaves a unique footprint. Only an impression eventually remains, the many nuances of a game’s passage being eroded over time, as genres transform and move on. How will gaming collectively remember Dragon Age II? Although far from the truth, perhaps as “the game everyone hated.” Or, if you liked it, “the game everyone hated, except for me.”

Reception, in the Online Age, is increasingly relevant to the formation of a lasting impression and, in the case of Dragon Age II, a small horde of gamers came out to stomp in the dirt. The message, at its heart, is entirely relevant. Ideas like “role playing traditions are worth preserving” and “detailed worlds make for immersive experiences,” are something passionate RPG fans should defend. (With a mace +2 and wearing mismatched armour pieces.)

For those concerned with promoting gamers as a mature, intelligent and, ideally, powerful audience, how feedback is delivered may be equally as significant. Following a large volume of silly, or downright vitriolic, criticism online, Dragon Age’s next move was always going to be interesting. What approach would be taken to creating additional content? Would the satisfied portion of the audience be targeted with more of the same, or would the franchise attempt to re-woo detractors?

How tough are the new genlocks? Ask Walking Bomb.

In Legacy, BioWare demonstrates surprising skill at sorting through, and implementing, genuinely useful feedback, without alienating the many players who did enjoy the base game. It’s a DLC, add-in expansion, in which subtle changes thoroughly impact the overall experience, and for the better. (And this is coming from someone who appreciates, both a more traditional model of RPG, as well as adoring Dragon Age II, ugly elf townies and all.)

Playable at any point after Hawke reaches Kirkwall, including from a post-game save, a party of your choice is taken through Vimmark Chasm and to a Grey Warden prison which, incidentally, some may find pleasantly reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal’s Watcher’s Keep. The story provides insight into the one member of the Hawke family who was conspicuously absent from the base game, and alights on overarching lore, related to the Grey Wardens.

Something about you has changed while you’ve been away, little brother. Did you get a haircut?

Without spoilers, Hawke’s sibling is likely available as a party member, and is a good choice for his or her additional dialogue, as are Varric, and a couple of others. And, if you like fresh banter, be prepared to replay this with every possible permutation of everyone. Most interestingly, the events of Legacy do resolve a little differently, depending upon in which Act you begin, and it is expected that plot flags will carry into future Dragon Age add-ins.

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Developer: BioWare
Publisher: EA
Price: $12
OFLC Rating: MA15+
VERDICT A surprisingly detailed add-in for this controversially received sequel. New approaches to encounter design and smarter enemies stand out, although story remains a strong feature.

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9 Responses to “Review: Dragon Age II: Legacy”

  1. Mr.Snork #

    Hey, do I see a return to the Isometric viewpoint? Is this truly missing in DA 2? I play almost entirely in Isometric view as per Baldurs gate.

    August 4, 2011 at 12:22 am Reply
    • Meghann O'Neill #

      Hi Snorky. In DAII there was a slightly higher view for PC, but I still found it really hard to cram the party in, most of the time. I played Origins entirely in iso-view, but I got used to being closer in DAII, after a while. In Legacy there are some really wide, open spaces which (IMO) makes for some much more sensible viewing moments, but the camera hasn’t changed. Fingers crossed for DA3?

      August 4, 2011 at 3:21 am Reply
  2. FadingEntity #

    It’s worth noting that PCPP also, somewhat curiously, reviewed Dragon Age 2 with a 9/10.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:12 am Reply
    • Well, I did explain my score pretty thoroughly in the DAII thread, as you’ll recall. So, I’m not sure were “curious” comes from, but I do understand that you are critical of it.

      August 4, 2011 at 4:27 am Reply
  3. this game looks really cool but how can i have it :(

    August 21, 2011 at 2:36 am Reply
  4. Hi. You first need to have Dragon Age II installed, and patched to 1.03. Then it’s available as downloadable content, linked to your BioWare account. You can grab it here.

    August 22, 2011 at 2:31 am Reply
  5. Reuben #

    Meghann, although I’m sure you are a very talented writer/journalist PcPowerPlay really needs to let someone else review upcoming DA titles of any kind. A 9/10 for DA II was a forgivable over score (Which I foolishly trusted and subsequently wasted $80 on), I do not understand how you could give an overpriced DLC (as in $12 for 3 hours of the slightly polished turd) for such a rubbish game 9/10. You review scores reflect to much bias based on your love for the Original title and do you no credit.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:56 am Reply
  6. Hi Reuben. Thanks for the feedback. I’m sorry you felt your money was wasted based on the score we eventually decided on. I was actually very happy to buy a retail copy of DAII myself after playing the review build (which expired) and Legacy (because I didn’t get offered one). I guess I’d encourage readers to always ensure they take into account features discussed in the review text in addition to the score. In this particular case, I spent quite a lot of words explaining how the more traditional RPG features were changed and that players opinions on DAII would likely vary. If you want to discuss it further I’ve been pretty active in our DAII forum thread. Meghann

    October 2, 2011 at 5:01 am Reply
  7. I’m always a little surprised by all the Dragon Age II hate out there. I loved it, although I played it after having recently finished Mass Effect, so perhaps I just wasn’t expecting the ‘traditional’ RPG.
    The more restricted and linear story simply makes it a different kind of game, I don’t think it therefore makes it a bad one.

    April 8, 2014 at 5:23 am Reply

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