I was late to the Dragon Age party, but boy am I glad I attended. The first game had all the great story elements I'd come to expect from a Bioware game. With memorable characters, amazing dialogue, and plenty to see and explore, it was like being immersed in a good book. With the second one, I never got that feeling.

That feeling of depth, of exploring, of actually giving a crap about the characters and events in the universe. Instead your a guy (or gal) who needs money. Woo. For all the fantastic voice acting, my Hawke never felt as "alive" to me as my custom character in the first game. A character whose story I had decided, and whose decisions really shaped the way people saw him. Hawke was a man with a beard, on the run, with no money trying to take care of "mother."

Its a matter of conflict, and action. In a good story, things happen. When you don't expect them, when you're not prepared, when you're in a weakened state. Hawke goes to things to make them happen. You receive the bulk of your optional quests from a mail system! No exploration required. I suppose its meant to be convenient, but it just ends up not fun. Although, with so few areas to actually explore the mail- quest system sort of makes sense.

I feel like I just spit out three paragraphs of putrid hate. So here's the good: The combat kicks ass. Its fast, fun, and by the end you really feel like you could take on the world (too bad your stuck in Kirkwall...). The end of the story is also great, and I mean that in the non-snide way. It really is! One particular twist was so surprising to me I actually yelled at my TV (something usual reserved for Black Ops matches).

When it comes down to it, I play games for the story and this story really drags in the middle. There are a couple really interesting plot points introduced that by the time they come back you've already forgotten about them.

Many of the best stories we have are about reluctant heroes who have to rise up in a time of need to meet an impossible challenge. With the first Dragon Age, you were that hero- plucked from the alienage, or on the run from home, you had a greater destiny and you knew it. With the sequel, yes you eventually become a "Champion," but it feels like it was only because you were the right guy in the right spot at the right time and its what you wanted all along.