Review: Dragon Age: Legends

Facebook games have more than a little bit of a stigma attached to them, as far as hardcore gamers are concerned. The only thing approaching what many of us would consider games are the text-based RPG’s that are so popular (Mafia Wars, for example) while “farming” games like Farmville and whatnot even manage to annoy fans of casual games like Harvest Moon.

This taint means that any Facebook game has to overcome a lot to be accepted by the Hardcore crowd. So far, none have succeeded; in fact, few have tried. Why bother when you’d probably make more money ripping off Farmville? What sets Dragon Age: Legends apart from the Facebook game crowd is that it actually qualifies as a “game”. You can win or lose, and the game doesn’t have/require infinite grinding. You clear out an area, then move to the next. It’s possible to die, and the game requires either skill or a ton of real money to progress.

This is easily where the game falters. Being “Free-to-Play” (or F2P), it’s based off of micro-transactions. Feel like some extra gold? Plop down five bucks. Again and again and again. It’ll slowly drain your wallet if you aren’t careful, and that’s the entire point. However, it’s not near as crippled as the vast majority of such F2P games. You can and will progress through the game without plopping down money. It’s just much harder for players who aren’t skilled at the RPG genre.

It'll take a while for your in-game castle to look like this, unless you're willing to pay up

This is ironic and very possible intentional. EA2D, the developer, will still make money off the ingame ads whether a bunch of players can beat the game normally or not. The more casual players, on the other hand, had better be ready to either cough up money or die a whole bunch. The game gets quite difficult fairly quickly. Without a steady supply of potions that can only really come from a castle funded with real-life money tactically inept players will have some problems.

Being a hardcore gamer, I’ve had no problems with this. I’ve had few resources, but that’s part of the fun. Why would you need to make and manage your own castle and crafting services if you couldn’t run out of health potions? It adds an extra layer of difficulty to the fights, and it’s one that I’m definitely enjoying. The combat is simple, but surprisingly fun. Combat is turn based, with statistics determining who gets to go when. This sequence is clearly shown in a bar towards the bottom of the screen. The two battling groups face off in 2 rows of 3 slots each. Your hero is assigned to one of these slots, and friends’ heroes can be brought in to flesh out your party. It’s not exactly a “coop” game, but it does add a reason to get friends to play it while not requiring friends to play it since you do have some computer-made allies. All allies function on 2-or-so hour cooldowns, though. It’s almost impossible to play this in marathon sessions.

The summoner tree for the Mage can eventually allow you to summon dragons. Overpowered? Yes. Awesome? Heck yes.

Honestly, this has probably added to my enjoyment of the game. It can be a bit of a grind at times, so having shorter gaming sessions works fine. The graphics are smooth and simple with a solid art-style and sound assets ripped straight out of the retail Dragon Age games.

Bottom Line: Well, it’s mostly free. Whether or not you feel like devoting ten minute here and there depends on either your comfort level with the tenets of RPG’s, or on your ability to burn real money on extra potions. As such I’d only really recommend it to people who play real RPG’s regularly, but it’s darn good fun and is definitely worth that demographic’s time. Hopefully other Facebook games will take the hint and make ACTUAL GAMES.

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