A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragon Age II is a violent role-playing game that glorifies bloody fantasy combat and features sexually-charged sequences that stop just shy of showing the act itself. It is also a true role-playing game that focuses on storytelling and character development. Players spend much of their time engaged in conversations with other characters, fostering or damaging relationships as they choose. Some of the dialogue contains cussing. They must consider the impact their actions and words have on others or be prepared to deal with the consequences.
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What's it about?
Set in the same world and in the years immediately following the events of the first game, DRAGON AGE II follows the story of a customizable refugee character after his (or her) hometown is destroyed by wicked invading forces. A penniless immigrant in an overseas kingdom, he takes odd jobs to make money and earn a place for himself and his family in a city filled with strong personalities. Like its predecessor, this game focuses heavily on role-playing, allowing players to carry on long conversations with other characters and make game-altering decisions in many of its quests. Players should also expect plenty of bloody fantasy combat as they take groups of up to four party members into battle against demons, spiders, human raiders, and mages.
Is it any good?
Dragon Age II acts as prime evidence that developer BioWare is in a class unto itself when it comes to developing games with complex characters. Its dialogue system makes chatting just as much fun as combat. With the ability to scan responses on the fly and choose replies even before the character you're speaking with has finished his sentence, conversations flow naturally and without pause. They are completely engaging. What's more, your choices change the nature of the relationships forged with other characters and can even alter events within the story. It's a stunning achievement in game writing. The action, meanwhile, is as satisfying as it was in the first game. A cleaner interface and simpler menus manage to maintain the same level of depth but make everything feel more accessible. A wider selection of areas to explore would have been nice, and we detected a lack of direction in the first few acts, but these are the only complaints that can be fairly levelled at this brilliant and mature role-playing game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about storytelling in games. Have you ever played a game in which the characters were just as rich, compelling, and memorable as those from a book or movie? If so, what was it that made these characters resonate with you?
Talk about the characterization of love in this game. Are games capable of effectively capturing this complex emotion? Can they depict the physical aspects of love with taste and sincerity?
Discuss the impact of violence. Why do games contain such graphic violence?
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