|Publisher: BioWare Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.6|
Requirements:Mac OS X: 10.6.6 | CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86 GHz | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 9 GB Graphics: ATI HD2600, NVIDIA 9400, or better graphics card with at least 256 MB of dedicated VRAM | Video cards not supported: Intel GMA series, Nvidia 7x00 series, AMD 1x00 series, AMD 2400
Review:There's often quite a bit of trepidation when a sequel is announced. "Will it be the same game, just with a new skin?" "Will they change it too much and ruin everything?" Often, the failures fall in one of the above two extremes. The excellent games, however, tend to fall right in the middle. They add just enough to keep things fresh, but remain true enough to the original formula to justify the use of the name.
Thankfully, that's Dragon Age 2 from start to finish. It retains the strategic party fights with the three standard groupings of warrior, rogue, and mage. In addition, it still allows for the sub-specializations like Blood Mage and Templar. However, all the sub-tree talents are now linked off of an unlocking point you gain at a certain level, not the completion of an in-game requirement, like asking a lust demon for power in Dragon Age. It's a bit simpler.
The old slightly-overpowered techniques from Dragon Age are still in force, however they've been modified to require cooperation between different classes. You can't just stone fist a frozen enemy any more, for example. You need to have the upgrade that causes your ice attacks to cause "brittle" and have the warrior use one of his/her many techniques for doing extra damage to brittle enemies. This also applies to stunning, the warrior status effect, and the rogue effects. No class can activate extra damage from the status effect they cause. Unfortunately, this leads to having fewer choices of effective parties. You can no longer just dump every mage you have into the party and watch the devastation. Assassins will crush you to the ground in seconds, dragons will charge you down, and so on.
You'll always play the same main character, though, as the origin story never changes. You can no longer play a dwarf noble one game or a rogue another. No matter what you pick, you're always a fugitive from the darkspawn protecting your family. You do have a little control over just how alive your family remains throughout the story, within limits, but the grand majority of the game will never change no matter how hard you want it to.
On the plus side, there are plenty of encounters with boss-like creatures that can be discovered if you explore enough. The dragons aren't anywhere near as devastating as in the original, but you can always turn up the difficulty if you want their instant-kill attacks to turn everyone to mush. Just be sure to have a high-leveled Spirit Healer along for free rezzes. You're going to need them when you unlock an angry spirit with revenant backup. As everyone gets yanked around by one as the other launches nukes, you'll be reminded just how amazing crushing prison is.
In any case, there's plenty of entertaining gameplay to go around. It feels very much like the original in what you're doing, just not what you're looking at. This particular change is the one that will likely surprise you if you've played the original. All the action is now done from a third-person perspective over the shoulder of your currently-controlled unit. It's quite a bit harder to see what's going on sometimes as a result, and that tends to lead to enemy spellcasters being left alone for too long, which leads to your death.