WIT: The Opening Hours Of Dragon Age II by John Walker
Clearly influenced by the enormous success of Mass Effect II, and the excellent ways that game was executed, DA2 seems determined to try to be as accessible, without compromising on its combat. But in the compromise appears to be lost another crucial aspect of such an RPG: dialogue.
My character, The Female Hawke, is utterly unlikeable. Smug, smarmy, and needlessly rude, her having been given a voice means her identity has little to do with my own influence. Good old Grey Warden Simon was mute, but immensely likeable. And helped by being offered nuance in his responses.
Hawke has Mass Effect’s three options. While they occasionally vary, they boil down to, “Good”, “flippant” or “evil”. The latter two are always rude, the first one only sometimes. And with no conversation skills apparent in the game, that’s your lot. Creating a character whose gift of the gab can talk their way out of situations appears to have been completely eradicated – something that’s really shocked me in a BioWare game. If it appears later, it appears far too late.
I desperately miss the range of possible responses, none so crudely labeled. Here, I was able to flirt, or agitate, in a way that felt nuanced, even subtle. Now I can sometimes choose the conversation option with the heart by it, where Hawke will then say something barely related to the words I’d clicked on, often so crawlingly crude that I’m surprised my companions don’t file a sexual harassment complaint.