Dragon Age was a great RPG. Some may not have liked the constant cut scenes, but I found they added a lot of character to the, err… characters and enjoyed the chance to stop hitting action buttons and swap witty repartee with Alistair or make advances on numerous members of the party.

So, I already intended to get Dragon Age II when it was released. I don’t expect demos of games nowadays (as opposed to back in the day when everything had a demo) and was therefore a little surprised when I saw it on Steam.

I downloaded it and quickly ramped all the graphics up to full (because that’s the first test of any game) and sat through the introduction. The voice acting is up to par and the cut scene animations convey the characters well. One thing I particularly liked is that, when you converse with a party member, you character speaks whatever line you choose. In the demo, you seem to have only three choices whenever you’re prompted to speak: A good, a neutral/cheeky, and a cold/dark one. Each have a fairly different air about, so it seems a little character breaking to be a bold, serious and good character one moment that then says something witty – unless your character is bipolar.

Breasts grant an AC bonus in fantasy games. She’s also your sister, so don’t get any funny ideas.

Two negatives: the first is the camera controls. I instinctively held down the middle mouse button to turn the camera, which didn’t work. Holding down the right mouse button rotates the camera in Dragon Age II, but it seems to flick back to a default angle when you right-click to move somewhere, which is a bit frustrating.

Secondly, and this could be due to me pushing all the graphics up, the occasional and awkwardly placed ‘loading’ breaks. A couple occurred in the middle of a cut scene and, due to the length of them, really broke the flow.

In fact, I thought that it was actually one of those lengthy and out-of-place loads when the game crashed.

So I decided that this was the chance to try out another class.

Combat is pretty fun in Dragon Age II. There’s a lot of gore spraying about, and you really feel the effects of using your abilities. Combat animations seem a bit anime, and the rogue looks like he’s being driven by clockwork when he’s attacking normally.

I got past the area I’d crashed in previously only to die due to forgetting to level the rest of my party up (I didn’t even notice until they were dead).

Time to test out the third and final class in the demo: the mage.

Targeting seems a little difficult if you’re not pausing the game to issue commands. There were a few times when I was left wondering whether I was actually casting a spell or not. I have a feeling that this, like the camera controls, would be something that you’d get used to after a little bit of playing. However, I got to the same huge demon that killed my rogue and died again.

So, I went back to the warrior (the easy class for any game) and finished off the demo, meeting the stripperific Isabella and the chest-bearded dwarf who seems to be narrating your tale.

Low-cut tops aren’t limited to the ladies in Dragon Age II.

The demo holds back some pretty tantalizing stuff; character customisation and access to your inventory, both of which are big components of an RPG. But it gives you a look at the visceral combat, interesting characters, some very smooth and refined visuals and a story that, while not thoroughly gripping (as such), still leaves you wanting to know more.

I wasn’t at all bothered about Dragon Age: Origins when it was released but when I finally played it, it turned out to be a compelling and refreshing game. Now, having played the demo of Dragon Age II through, I’m going to go back and complete Origins while I wait in anticipation for its release.

The all-powerful tomato sauce attack.

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