Dragon Age II: Legacy

Down, down, deeper and down.

Dragon Age II certainly had its flaws and missteps but what made it resonate - for me, at least - was the way it dialled the RPG bombast back to a more personal level. It was very much the saga of one person, and it was structured in such a way that when terrible events befell the city of Kirkwall, it felt organically connected to the character you were playing and the choices you'd made. Divisive though the game as a whole became, it was this narrative focus that provided its greatest strengths. Sadly, little of that strength is evident in this second DLC salvo, which snuggles comfortably into a more traditional role-playing framework.

The plot is triggered by a mysterious gryphon statue that appears in Hawke's ancestral home. Interacting with it leads into another flashback interrogation with Varric, in which he coyly dodges the question of why he didn't mention this adventure before. "I didn't think you'd be interested," he smirks. Given BioWare's see-saw reputation when it comes to DLC, it's a risky statement to put up front. As it goes, by the end, we are interested - but only just.

So we're whisked back to catch up with Hawke and your preferred party as they investigate why a Dwarf Carta is trying to kill him. It soon transpires that it has something to do with your blood and the actions of your father, who was involved in something with the Grey Wardens in a remote fortress prison.

Inevitably, it's into this prison that you venture and as you work your way into its depths and out the other side, the family intrigue is just enough to provide the slim story with enough backbone to hold itself up, while never becoming particularly gripping or memorable.

Big bad Corypheus has a Megatron Transformers vibe about him.

It is, at least, fully voiced and generous with cut-scenes and dialogue options. Few of them lead to different outcomes, but when so many DLC offerings for Dragon Age: Origins were virtually mute, narrative-free corridors of mindless combat, it's worth putting a tick in the 'pro' column for Legacy.

The actual shape of the gameplay is hardly imaginative, though. It's a linear crawl, with sporadic dead-end diversions that mostly serve to deliver objects and plot points for the three optional side quests. There are mini-boss encounters and some new Darkspawn variants, although these are more like remixed versions of familiar foes than anything dazzlingly fresh.

The highlight for the adolescent-minded will probably be an encounter with an armoured bronto called Wanka. This is almost as good as discovering that Han Solo once had a robot companion called Bollux.

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