Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC review: Family outing

Dragon Age 2: Legacy outlines your latest quest as a matter of familial preservation. Hawke and kin have come under attack from The Carta, a band of ruthless thugs operating from a wind-hewn fortress in the Vimmark Mountains. A failed attempt on your life provides adequate motivation to kick their door down, but there's even stronger impetus on the dirt road just behind you. Turn around and you'll be asked if you want to return to Kirkwall.


The near-apologetic change in scenery makes Legacy seem like a vacation, despite the presence of traps, demons and ye olde monument to procrastination and shirked responsibility: The Prison for Ancient Evils. Do your descendants a solid and just kill all your evils now, would you?

As you make the noticeably linear descent into the mountain's belly, you'll clash with Darkspawn that have, just like you, wandered into an inescapable trap. It's a nostalgic pleasure to cut through so many emissaries and genlocks again -- a fact that won't be lost on certain party members (should you choose to bring them along). One of the best things about Legacy is how attentive it is to the state in which you left Dragon Age 2. The game unlocks unique dialogue if you bring along a romantic interest, for instance, and triggers a bonus battle should one of your spiritually unstable companions take a turn for the worse.

If you're the sort that enjoys perfecting the party's automatic tactics, slotting their abilities into a dungeon-crawling killing machine, you'll be happy to test it against the great variety of enemies in Legacy. The combat encounters feel far less random compared to the main game, with deliberately positioned archers and heavily armored monsters (including a new type of bronto) calling for specific classes and instructions. You don't have to micromanage to win, but there's always opportunity to act efficiently, and that's half the fun.

The loot enthusiast should also come away satisfied, as Legacy sees Hawke forging a new class-specific weapon. In a neat sequence of choices, you're able to upgrade it at several points with elemental or status-affecting augmentations. The blade also doubles as a key throughout the Grey Warden dungeon, which means you may spend a few minutes distracted by thoughts of Kingdom Hearts. If not that, you'll probably question the wisdom of running about a prison (for ancient evils) with a tool to set its captives free.

If Legacy has a clear, bothersome flaw, it's in the climax. The most enigmatic and interesting character also happens to be the final boss, so he's less interested in talking than he is in killing you with very regimented tactics. The result is a more creative battle than most in Dragon Age, but it requires a frustrating reliance on your party's ability to recognize FIRE BAD. I certainly wouldn't trust them to fight a boss and navigate a maze at the same time, and yet BioWare does so without a hitch.

Perhaps there's a vague logic beneath their suicidal wanderings. Either they become like those pesky adventurers who come to your dungeon and don't know when to leave, or they go back home to Kirkwall.

This review is based on final code provided by EA. "Dragon Age 2: Legacy" is available on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and PC for 800 MSP, or $10. It takes 3-4 hours to complete.

Note: Joystiq does not provide star ratings for downloadable content reviews with the understanding that the quality of the core game's experience is unchanged from the retail release to DLC add-ons;
see: Dragon Age 2 review.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.