Monday, September 8, 2014

Dragon Age 2: Legacy review

    Dragon Age 2: Legacy, in many ways, is Mark of the Assassin's opposite. Whereas Mark of the Assassin is quirky, Legacy is serious. Whereas Mark of the Assassin is set in sunny outdoor environments, Legacy takes place in claustrophobic caverns. Whereas Legacy is focused on an all-new character in Tallis, Legacy deals with the return of Hawke's sibling.

    The latter is what makes Legacy interesting as, due to the fact they're absent for almost the entirety of Act II in the game, both Bethany and Carver Hawke were underdeveloped compared to other Companions. While you can play Legacy at any point during Dragon Age 2, I recommend playing it during Act II or Act III as it provides a badly missing amount of exposition from the characters regarding their state of being.

    The premise of Legacy is the Hawke siblings and two other companions are summoned to a desolate part of the Free Marches where the Carta are based. The Carta, sort of the Dwarfish mafia, have been looking for anyone descended from Malcolm Hawke (the PC's father). This, obviously, intrigues Hawke and his sibling so they investigate. What they find is secrets of their father's past history, a Grey Warden conspiracy, and insight into the origins of the Blights.

Legacy is very-very brown. Except when it's dark, dingy greys and blacks. Really, it's like playing Fallout.
    Dragon Age: Legacy, in my humble opinion, is good but not great. The adventure felt like a hack and slash slog through room after room of villains with little interaction with anyone. The insights into Malcolm Hawke are entertaining enough but nothing we couldn't have deduced from talking with Leandra (the protagonist's mother). About the biggest revelation we get regarding Malcolm Hawke is he didn't want mage children and that he was willing to use Blood Magic when his pregnant wife was threatened.

    The best part of the game is almost certainly the final fight with Corypheus, easily my favorite of the entire series with only the battle against Duke Prosper rivaling it. It's a genuinely hard fight with lots of twists and turns but amazingly satisfying for a Mage Hawke to complete.

    The fact I achieved "Archmage" (20th level) after it made my victory all the sweeter. Sadly, the ending is ruined by a "To be continued" coda which mars my sense of accomplishment. Hadn't Hawke enough failures? Couldn't he have this one success?

    The character of Corypheus isn't much of a surprise to gamers given his cover is on the front of the game. I will say, however, he is an excellent villain for the small amount of time he appears on-screen. Many people have, correctly, stated that he would have made a better main villain for Dragon Age 2 than the actual ones in the Arishok and Knight Commander Meredith. How he ties into the lore of the setting is a surprise which I won't spoil but makes him one of the more intriguing characters to show up since Origin's Loghain.

I can't say the magical mini-games were all that much fun to me. Lots of demon-killing. Got plenty of that in the main game.
    Another welcome element is the return of the Grey Wardens. They play a miniscule, almost forgettable role in Dragon Age 2 which bothered many fans given their central focus in the first game. While I believe Dragon Age is much more than the Blights and Darkspawn, having them show up and play a prominent role was welcome.

    I liked the reminder of what the Grey Warden's "success by any means" attitude is like to outsiders. The Wardens bully, intimidate, threaten, bribe, or worse for the greater good. About the only thing they have over other villains is they're actually working for it (usually).

    My favorite sidequest from this adventure is probably the one related to the Altar of Dumat. Dumat is the now-deceased dragon god of the Tevinter Imperium which died at the hands of the Grey Wardens. Hawke discovers one of the Tevinter's altars to the ancient deity and has the opportunity to perform a sacrificial rite to it or defile it. If Hawke does the rite properly, he is given a reward from the evil god. Which implies he may not be as dead as the Grey Wardens think. Hawke can also defile the altar to spite him.

    Frankly, this adventure is lacking in significant NPCs, however. The Grey Wardens you meet aren't terribly interesting and we don't get a chance to interact with the now-insane members of the Carta. Corypheus is the most memorable of the characters you encounter and you only get to spend a short time with him. I would have preferred a few more characters to encounter in this DLC since that's always been where Bioware shines. The most memorable conversations are probably between Hawke and his sibling.

    So there is that.
As mentioned, the fight against Corypheus is awesome.
     I can't say I was blown away by the combat in this DLC either. The Carta are not the sort of enemies I particularly enjoy killing. Given the majority of them are Casteless dwarves abused by society, killing hundreds of them just makes me feel bad. The Darkspawn are creatures I got my fill of slaying in Dragon Age: Origins so the opportunity for Hawke to do it doesn't fill me with glee.

    With the exception of the aforementioned boss fight, it's just a slog for the most part through weird caves and ruins. There's a great bonus boss fight but it's very hard to get to and easy to miss. I wish they'd made that easier to find.

    In conclusion, Legacy isn't bad per se, but it's not exactly good either. I'd get it for the fact that Dragon Age 2 could use some more variety but the adventure was somewhat bleak with environments I didn't find to be particularly memorable.

    It does, however, have a great villain plus some insights into the Hawke family legacy so I'm going to give it a passing grade. Buy this in order to fill out Dragon Age 2's somewhat spotty storyline.



  1. I always got the sense that Legacy was mainly building up future plot events and actions, which Inquisition will cover. Plus I always got a sense that Corpheus is in some way the bigger bad of DA2, with the mix of certain info from some codexes, Kirkwall's history and the veil being fragile there. Plus considering how his corruption seems to be quite strong, just being near him sent justice/vengeance into rage. It would explain some things, I will admit I wonder of his connection to Dumat, and if the first old god is alive.
    Then it raises some interesting questions on if the others could be as well. I wasn't fussed the wardens were given minimal role in da2, I never found them very interesting really, the whole blight and darkspawn things is just too trifle, lacking proper tension and the darkspawn too chaotic evil as well for me to sustain much interest (hence why Loghain drives most of Origins plot).
    Though Awakening gave some depth to the darkspawn thanks to the Architect, so hopefully Inquisition will pipe my interest in both sides better. I liked learning more about Hawke’s father, was interesting and sad as well.
    While I get why some fans hate how Hawke seems to be a failure hero, personally I liked in a way Bioware taking apart many of the tropes they have used for many years, I liked them but Bioware were a bit too reliant on them I feel for too many years, so something a bit different for me was welcome, though form a gaming perceptive, it could and did for some take a lot of the fun out of playing the game.
    Like how for some in assassin creed 3 they felt Connor didn't achieve much, though like here I liked how AC3 played out, it was interesting and complex in ways I felt Ezio's conflict wasn't (though Ezio was till a great character and fun to play as).

    Liked your review overall, it was good legacy, but it wasn't great either.

    1. It's interesting that Corypheus can survive taking over a Grey Warden whereas the other Old Gods do not survive such a process. But yes, I generally agree that Hawke being the failure hero is something that is a nice change of pace. Still, I think he would have benefited from having a couple of clear-cut victories to his name. The Arishok's defeat is the closest thing and that seems marred by the fact it was something Isabella could have probably solved by dropping the book off at the Qunari compound at any time. I also agree with you about the Darkspawn. The Grey Wardens are important parts of the lore but kind of specific in their use.

  2. Agree with Hawke needing a clear cut victory, maybe they will get it in inquisition. Though overall DA2 seem to be about how really the situation in Kirkwall was a bomb waiting to go off and when it did no one could do much about it, too cynical, yeah in a way, but reality can be like that sometimes, though I get why some players never want to see that in a game.

    There's a new dragon age book out next week that focus's on the wardens, mainly on what happened to the griffons I believe, I imagine you will review it once you get round to it. No doubt some inquisition stuff will be foreshadowed if some of the trailers and game videos I have seen seem to suggest the wardens role in places.