Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Review - Dragon Age: Legacy

Let's cut to the chase. If you played Dragon Age 2 then you either hated its guts or liked it - with the exception of a few specific problems. There's no denying that the game had its missteps, the most egregious of them being the atrocious amount of map-recycling and the tedious "wave" combat mechanic that turned every battle into one of attrition rather than tactics. I lay out most of the flaws (while not forgetting that the game had its highlights as well) in my review from a few months back, but this post isn't meant to rehash these old criticisms of Dragon Age 2. This is a review of its first story-based downloadable add-on, entitled Legacy.

So I'm happy to report that Legacy has - thankfully - avoided these two monumental design errors of its parent game. The DLC features a brand new area to explore outside of Kirkwall. Your adventure brings you to a Grey Warden prison in the Vimmark mountains, an area which turns out to be darkspawn-infested fortress. The dungeons - while not mindblowing - are a refreshing change of pace from exploring the carbon copy cutouts that were Dragon Age 2's map designs. The atmosphere is suitably sinister, and the DLC brings a healthy dose of interesting story content to boot. An ancient darkspawn is breaking free of its chains, and as you delve deeper into the depths of the prison, you uncover startling secrets concerning the nature of this threat. The story is engaging, and some endgame revelations are quite satisfying.

While you're spelunking through foreboding caverns and ancient halls, you'll encounter both old and new enemies. As usual, it's up to you and your gang of ragtag misfits to put these beasts down. Enemies no longer assault in monotonous waves, and tactics do play a more crucial role in the game, especially on the harder difficulties. Still, while the "Wave" mechanic is gone, the DLC doesn't quite perfect the combat formula. On normal difficulty, the enemies seem too easy to overcome, while on the hard difficulty, they seem just a bit too hard. It was particularly annoying to find that the game had spawned multiple encounters that featured a dozen archer mobs, all of them shooting painfully accurate arrows into your pincushiony body. The final bossfight - while epic in theme - is at times grating as well, requiring you to perform several monotonous tasks over and over in order to advance the battle.

Thankfully, combat isn't all that there is to do within the add-on. Some puzzle minigames and some new loot round off the DLC and provide a fun diversion from the inconsistent combat. Of particular note is the additional armor set you'll unlock only through Legacy, and the new weapon you obtain through the course of your adventure is upgradable with some new effects that I haven't seen on any other weapon.

All of this amounts to about 3-4 hours of additional playtime. The pricetag for such an adventure seems a bit high at $10.00, but if you have the cash and enjoy the world, I would still recommend checking it out. Bring your in-game sibling along if you can, and while you can technically do the quest at any point in the game, I would recommend waiting until at least Act 3; the epilogue will really jerk at those heartstrings then.

Dragon Age: Legacy is available on Xbox Live Marketplace, PSN, and PC.

Recommended For:
+ Dragon Age 2 Fans
+ Fans of Dragon Age Lore
+ RPG enthusiasts itching for a quick fix

Not Recommended For:
- Dragon Age 2 Haters
- People expecting Legacy to solve all the problems of Dragon Age 2

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