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Dragon Age II (full version)

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#1 NeuralClone

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 07:30 PM

No, I don't have this yet. Why? It isn't out yet of course. :p But it's been fully pre-loaded on my system thanks to Steam. Just 3 more days until it unlocks! I won't really have time to play it much until the end of the month though. I've noticed that the game takes up about half the space of the first game. Maybe it uses better compression algorithms or something. Hopefully it doesn't mean it has half as much content.

Anyway, here's the official thread for the full version of the game. Naturally, there will be spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins, its expansion pack (The Awakening), its DLC, and for Dragon Age II.

I can't say I'm too pleased that BioWare/EA is releasing DLC on the same day as launch. The main game already costs $60 and they're trying to get us to pay them even more on the day of the release. Those who were lucky enough to pre-order the game before January 11th get the launch DLC for free. Those of us who didn't pre-order before that date, are apparently second rate customers that need to pay $7 for the same content.

I get that games are incredibly expensive to make nowadays but this behavior just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps they just want to reward those who pre-ordered early and that's fine (giving all pre-orders that content would be better, IMO). But releasing the DLC on the same day as the game launches just feels like pure greed to me. That may not be the case but that's the impression it gives. The trailer for The Exiled Prince, the launch day DLC that adds a new party member, is already out and the game hasn't even been released yet. That just feels...wrong. This game is guaranteed to be a commercial success too. So it isn't like they're barely getting by and needed a way to help make up some of the development costs.

Let's hope that the full game, with or without The Exiled Prince, lives up to at least some of its hype. :)
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#2 QuiGon John

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 09:41 PM

I'll be getting this game for PS3.  This is relevant because it releases on the same day as MLB The Show 2K11.  As one of the ten biggest baseball fans in existence, I get that one every year... but deep down I know Dragon Age II will be a must-get for me.  That means buying two full-price games on the same day, something I haven't done for a while.

Cut to my wallet screaming in pain...

#3 Josh

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 10:21 PM

I'll be waiting for more reviews before I decide whether it's worth it. The first game was okay but I found it a little dry and the demo for the second game was... eh. Regardless, the 360 is the system of choice (because that's what I played the first game on and I'd want to carry over my data).
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#4 RommieSG

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 10:44 PM

I would have loved to have been able to grab the Bioware Signature Edition. Unfortunately I don't think I'll ever be able to grab it.
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#5 Hawkeye

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 05:07 AM

I hadn't heard about the DLC for DA2. What the description of the DLC?

I'll be getting it for the Xbox too. Looking forward to it!
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#6 Godeskian

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 07:05 AM

Wait wait wait.

It's unlocking on 3 days on steam?

On the 9th?

Because as an X-box owner who won't get it until the 11th, I'm a tad annoyed at that. Not at you mind, but at the non-simultaneous release dates. I know two days makes next to no difference, but it's a principle at work here.

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#7 NeuralClone

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

Here's a brief description of The Exiled Prince:

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Adventure alongside Sebastian Vael, an archer of noble birth, as he seeks revenge for the brutal murder of his family. Aid him in his quest, and direct his righteous wrath on your enemies. Sebastian is a full companion character, complete with his own series of side missions.
If you didn't preorder before January 11, it costs $7. And is it me or does this Sebastian character sound a tad cliched?

Gode, the North American version of the game is being released on March 8 (all platforms) and the rest of the world is getting it on March 11. I'm not entirely sure why they do that with games. I don't like it either.

I suspect it has something to do with NA distributors having exclusive rights to sell the game initially. The BBC does similar stuff with their shows and American networks do too. It's annoying and just pisses off people that want to buy the product. If anything, I think it helps encourage piracy (not unlike first day DLC...).
"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
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#8 NeuralClone

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 03:49 PM

Ok, so, Dragon Age II came out today in North America. Or at least the US anyway. Not sure about Canada. I can't keep EA's release schedules straight.

Anyway, I've played the game for a few hours (gotta get back to work now :() and it's significantly better than the demo. However, the prologue found in the demo is identical to the prologue in the final game. Your options are incredibly limited in that part of the game. The main difference is that you can actually change your equipment and the previously locked off skills/spells are available. If you want to compare what I thought of the demo and what I think of the full game, check this thread out for my original pros and cons:
http://www.exisle.ne...on-age-ii-demo/

If you have the PC version and have a capable graphics card, I HIGHLY recommend activating the DirectX 11 effects and downloading the high resolution texture pack from BioWare's site:

http://social.biowar...age/da2-patches

Not only does the game look significantly better, but the lighting, colors, and environments are much more vibrant. Note that you need a video card with at least 1 GB of video RAM to use the high resolution textures.

What are my thoughts so far? Well, I think it's a fun game. The characters are still a little bland and lifeless so far but the combat is fun. I had to put the game up on the hard difficulty to get any sort of challenge though. But not everyone cares about that kind of thing. ;)

The story isn't exactly very compelling so far. I actually found the story in the first game to be more interesting, and that was incredibly cliched. The side stories haven't been horribly interesting yet either. But this is more of an action RPG than DA:O. Combat seems to be the core of the game so far. And combat is an absolute blast. On normal, I wasn't finding that pausing the game was all that necessary. On hard, it's pretty much required to pause frequently and micro your characters a bit more. It doesn't require much thought on normal and easy. You can just plow through enemies like they're butter. Unfortunately, friendly fire seems to be completely gone. Boo.

My fears about the game losing depth partially came true. But not entirely. The game has a lot more depth than Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 but less depth than DA:O. It's kind of somewhere in-between. Dialogue "choices" usually have the same result regardless of what you say. And like the demo, it's difficult to actually role-play when you're only given a few basic options that end up sounding nothing like what is written. The good news is that despite the seemingly linear nature of the game, it isn't overloaded with cutscenes like the prologue was. You can actually walk around and (mostly) go where you want.

You can no longer learn how to craft items on your own and skills are completely gone (although talents still exist). Instead, you must unlock recipes and go to specific locations and place orders for such items (which cost money of course). You also need to have the components already. The end result is the same as crafting in the first game but the main differences are that you need to pay for the items and you can't craft them wherever you want. I'm not too thrilled with that.

You have a home in Kirkwall that acts as the campground in DA:O where you can store stuff, read letters (one of the ways to get quests/unlock codex), fight with your jerk of an uncle, listen to your brother (or sister) whine, order potions, and upgrade weapons. Unfortunately, it isn't easily accessible and you need to walk through part of Kirkwall to get to it. It isn't the end of the world but it's a little annoying. You also can't talk to your party members there. In order to talk to them like you could in the campground in Origins, you need to visit specific locations where they feel "comfortable" talking to you. This is fine if you're near the area and happen to remember that the character feels comfortable there. But these locations aren't marked on the world map and only show up when you're on the map where the location actually is.

Your characters can still get injured if they fall in combat and aren't revived before the end. However, there only seems to be one type of injury now. You lose some of your maximum health. Fatigue seems to be gone too. Armor and damage are calculated differently now and there's definitely some stat inflation going on with both of them. It isn't as extreme as it is in many Japanese RPGs, but the numbers are much higher than in the first game. I'm only level 5 and my damage is already on the level of what it was when I was level 15 in DA:O.

The hotkeys used to access the various menus now work from pretty much anywhere (thankfully), which makes the interface a little easier to use on the PC. You can actually hit ESC now to get out of the menus too. In the demo you had to click on the "back" button. The menus are still a little too much like Mass Effect 2 for my liking but they're serviceable. DA:O certainly had a much nicer looking interface.

Unlike in the demo, tactics now work properly and you can actually tell your characters to use items as part of the scripts you setup. I kept running into a problem in the demo where Carver would refuse to use a health potion despite being ordered to do so. Thankfully that was a bug that was unique to the demo. If you order a character to do something, your order automatically overrides whatever they were doing before. It doesn't look like tactics can be shut off though. It's a good thing you can override your characters or it would be a rather frustrating experience.

It's now possible to visit certain areas at night and during the day. The world map lets you switch between the two. Certain quests can only be completed at night and others can only be completed during the day. It's an interesting idea but it has a few problems. To change between night and day, you need to "venture forth" to a new area. I ended up having to fight my way through Hightown just to get to an area transition so I could change the area back to day.

This wouldn't have been an issue if I needed to travel that distance to complete the quest. But I was standing right outside the building I needed to go to! I couldn't walk back in because it was arbitrarily locked at night. I had no way of knowing this ahead of time since you can't view the world map unless you're trying to travel to another area. It didn't help that I wasn't really a high enough level to right the mobs I was encountering either. I was trapped in Hightown at night without any way to leave the area except by fighting my way through it, change the area back to day, and then walk all the way back. That isn't very good game design. Why couldn't I just wait where I was standing?

If anyone was worried about equipment not mattering in DA2 (like some of the rumors), then worry not. Weapons can still be upgraded as they could in DA:O and there seems to be plenty of loot from quests and in stores. [ETA: Ok, apparently that isn't entirely correct. After reading Gamespot's review, you actually have rather lmited control over the equipment of your party members. Most items you find are only usable by Hawke. WTF?] Getting enough gold to buy the loot is another story... There does seem to be more gold in DA2 than there was in Origins but it isn't exactly plentiful either. Potions aren't incredibly easy to come-by on the hard difficulty. If you play it on that, you definitely need a dedicated healer or you're going to be running into some potentially difficult fights early on.

I'll have more to say once I've played the game a bit more. At the moment though, I'm happy I bought it. I don't know if it should be considered a direct sequel to DA:O but it clearly fits into the Dragon Age universe quite nicely. It does suffer from a severe case of console-itis, however. Those who played the console version of DA:O will probably feel more at home. But if you played the PC version, it's going to take some adjusting.

Edited by NeuralClone, 08 March 2011 - 04:42 PM.
Fixed some grammar issues and typos. Probably lots more...

"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
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#9 NeuralClone

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 04:11 PM

I think this sums things up rather nicely based on my experiences so far:

http://www.gamespot....ary;read-review

I'm not sure why this is still listed under "unnamed Dragon Age project working title." :wacko:

And this is really disappointing to read:

Quote

The story has you escaping Lothering with your family during the early events of Dragon Age: Origins and arriving in the city of Kirkwall. From here, your vague primary goal is to make a name for yourself in the region over the ensuing years, rising from freeloading refugee to local champion. There's an odd lack of direction here. There is no overall sense of purpose, no main villain, and no opportunity to save the world from marauding darkspawn. While you do get a few chances to square off against such beasts, the stakes are never clear because there's no central plot to pull you through. As a result, the story is scattered--a series of missions and events without a center. The most heartfelt moments come from peripheral tangents and side quests focused on individual party members, where you explore loss, love, and betrayal. Nevertheless, there's a discouraging lack of epic-ness and focus, and no final prize to set your eyes on.
:(

Edited by NeuralClone, 08 March 2011 - 04:13 PM.

"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"

#10 enTranced

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:11 PM

^ So it's not as dire as the demo but it sounds like it IS still a downgrade from DA:O.

Ok then...buying used or forgetting about it.

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#11 NeuralClone

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:21 PM

View PostenTranced, on 08 March 2011 - 05:11 PM, said:

^ So it's not as dire as the demo but it sounds like it IS still a downgrade from DA:O.
It's definitely better than the demo. Apparently the console versions don't look much better than the demo. The PC version has numerous graphical enhancements that don't exist on the Xbox and PS3.

DA:O is a much deeper game, has more tactical combat, more interesting characters, and fewer seemingly random simplifications. It was a great homage to how BioWare started out with Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II. Dragon Age II basically throws a lot of that away in favor of pandering to the console action RPG fans. The things they simplified weren't broken in the first game. Rather than improving those things, they either removed them entirely (e.g., skills) or simplified them (e.g., crafting and equipment).

BUT, it isn't all bad. There's still some depth and despite the lack of focus in the story, it apparently offers some interesting story choices along the way. Unless you play it on easy, you do still need to make tactical decisions in combat. But if you want it to be challenging at all, you need to up the difficulty. Experienced RPG gamers will likely be able to just walk through areas without much trouble on the default setting (the exact opposite of DA:O).

Quote

Ok then...buying used or forgetting about it.
It's definitely worth playing. I'm having fun with it. And I'm a huge DA:O fan. It does kind of feel like a nice slap in the face for those that bought it on PC though. It takes more inspiration from Diablo and console action RPGs than the more tactical Baldur's Gate series. And that's rather disappointing to me. That said, if you can put DA:O aside and think of this as something completely different, you'll probably have fun with it. Calling it Dragon Age II is a bit of a stretch, however. It's clearly the same universe but it's a step back in many ways.
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#12 enTranced

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:36 PM

I don't mind the graphics. I freaking loved DA:O and it was one of the uglier PS3 games I have played. :)

Besides, it's a moot point anyway since we had to sink new computer funds into other things anyway, so no new computer for a few months.

And since both my wife and I loved the campfire scenes the news that they have been dropped suck. Just plain suck. :cry:

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#13 NeuralClone

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:45 PM

View PostenTranced, on 08 March 2011 - 05:36 PM, said:

I don't mind the graphics. I freaking loved DA:O and it was one of the uglier PS3 games I have played. :)

Besides, it's a moot point anyway since we had to sink new computer funds into other things anyway, so no new computer for a few months.
Oh, I agree. Graphics aren't everything. I thought the PC version of Origins looked fine in most cases. Granted, it still looked better than the console versions of the game but graphics aren't a real high priority for me. However, if people have a system that can run the PC version, it's definitely the prettiest, especially if you install the high resolution texture pack. Although I find it a little odd that they didn't package that texture pack with the actual game.

Quote

And since both my wife and I loved the campfire scenes the news that they have been dropped suck. Just plain suck. :cry:
Yeah, I loved those scenes too. :( The campground was pretty handy for buying/selling stuff as well.

The gift system has been greatly simplified too I guess. You can only give gifts to the characters that will accept them. You can no longer give them gifts based on what you think they might like. Everything is simplified across the board to some extent. Even romances are fairly straightforward. The dialogue wheel shows you a little heart whenever you have an opportunity to advance a romance. Talk about removing some of the fun with romances. :(

Still, despite my complaints and disappointment with certain aspects of the game, it isn't a bad game and I'm sure I'll have fun with it for a while to come. It just isn't the great game DA:O was.
"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"

#14 RommieSG

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 06:44 PM

Seeing as how these threads keep turning into a collection of negative thoughts, I'll stick to my info from my friend Kili, who's a total Dragon Age nutjob. She'll tell me the real worth of the game.
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#15 NeuralClone

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 07:17 PM

The reason I find the second game disappointing (albeit still fun and worth playing) is because I'm such a Dragon Age nut. And so are many of the other people posting in this thread. I don't evaluate games in a vacuum. DA2 is a step back compared to the first game. Since it is a sequel, it's kind of impossible not to compare it to the first game. When I see the number 2 after a title, I have certain expectations. DA2 has met some of them. It falls short in other areas.

And despite being disappointed, I believe I've  repeatedly said it's a fun game that's worth playing. That's pretty positive considering I'm a HUGE Baldur's Gate and DA:O fan. :)

All opinions are welcome in this thread/forum, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.

Edited by NeuralClone, 08 March 2011 - 07:21 PM.

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— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"

#16 Mikoto

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:52 PM

I'll post my review and impressions once I play it when its released on the 11th in the UK.
Rejected and gone.

#17 NeuralClone

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:45 PM

I have to say that I'm rather impressed with several of the new mage spells. Not only do they look great and feel powerful, but they really help buff an already fairly powerful class. I also like how all of the spells/talents you can get can be upgraded to add new effects. With the lack of friendly fire (at least on hard and below -- haven't been brave enough to try nightmare), it makes it a bit easier to make use of the really powerful area of effect spells. So while it requires less of a tactical approach, it's never been more fun to completely kick butt as a mage. :D I do miss being able to pull off the perfect team combo in Origins (very satisfying when you get everyone working together) but there are equivalents in DA2, even if I don't personally find them quite as satisfying on a tactical level.

The increased speed of combat can become quite brutal on hard and above. And I'm positive there are points on normal where that's true as well. Normal mode wasn't really presenting much of a challenge for me but I'm finding that hard is almost the opposite end of the spectrum at times. You really need to micro your party more on hard. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I love having to plan out everything. I'm just pointing out that there can be some really brutal fights if you just go for the "button mashing" approach that some of the biggest naysayers have claimed you can do. Well, they're full of dren. ;)

It works in the early battles (i.e., the prologue) but it definitely isn't the best strategy once you get to Kirkwall and start fighting more powerful/larger groups of enemies. That's a good way to over-aggro since more enemies will often move in once you've taken out the initial wave. What makes it more challenging early on is that you don't have access to a dedicated healer NPC unless you create one yourself. So you can really only rely on potions, which are a bit scarce. Of course, I'm approaching this from the perspective of playing it on hard. Your mileage may vary if you play it on the other difficulty settings.

Where the game is lacking depth in some areas and where BioWare fixed things that weren't really broken to begin with, I think DA2 makes up for it with the pure badass feeling of combat. It's just plain fun. It may not be as mentally stimulating (if such a thing is possible with a game) or as complex, but it IS fun. I can't fault BioWare there. :cool:

View PostMikoto, on 08 March 2011 - 08:52 PM, said:

I'll post my review and impressions once I play it when its released on the 11th in the UK.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts! :D

Edited by NeuralClone, 08 March 2011 - 09:49 PM.

"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"

#18 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:09 AM

Ok, I didn't know that Eve Myles (Gwen from Torchwood) was in this game! Nice surprise. :D :cool:

Edited by NeuralClone, 09 March 2011 - 03:09 AM.

"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"

#19 QuiGon John

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 11:55 AM

I played this game for a while last night, and so far I'm pleasantly surprised.  Granted, that would probably be "slightly disappointed" if I hadn't seen a lot of negative comments/reviews beforehand, but... given my expectation level, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Combat is MUCH faster-paced and fairly easy on Normal; when I'm plowing right through a game, you know people who are actually good at video games will be complaining.  But I'd rather be moving through the plot at a good clip than stuck for a week trying to clear the same area.

I'm also finding that I don't miss DA:O's extra depth as much as I thought I would.  I miss the origins and some of the customization, but you get to make enough decisions (cosmetic or not) that I still feel like I have a fair amount of control over who my character is.  And while the new characters aren't instant classics like Alistair, Morrigan, and Leiliana, I'm finding them relatively deep and likeable.  I felt like the new characters in Awakening were mostly ciphers; unless you were palling around with Oghren, the interactions in the expansion felt kinda boring.  I'm actually interested in getting to know the new people in Dragon Age II, at least so far.

I like going through all the little side quests more than actually fulfilling the main story a lot of the time, so I'm not bothered by the more meandering plot, either.  And I appreciate some of the little embellishments to the world; apparently the Dalish Elves are Irish now.  Or Welsh or... something.  Anyway, they feel like a distinct subgroup instead of just some random short people with tatoos.  And it looks like the Qunari have been similarly jazzed up.

Bottom line?  I probably wouldn't be hooked on this series if I'd played this game first instead of DA:O.  But since I AM hooked already, I don't feel like I wasted my money at all, at least not after one evening's play.  It's a step down from the original, but more engaging than Awakening, and that's not nothing.

GameSpot gave the game an 8.0.  I'd probably give it an 8.5 (with DA:O a 9 or 9.5), although it's possible it'll wear down to an 8 after a couple more play sessions.

#20 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 12:56 PM

The Dalish elves seem to have an odd mix of Welsh and Irish accents. I'm not sure if that's intentional or if fake Welsh accents just really stand out next to Eve Myles' real one. Given how some of the other accents are rather laughable (especially the French, er, Orlais ones), I'm betting on the latter. ;)

I think an 8.0 or 8.5 is probably a fair score for this game. I'm leaning more toward an 8.0 due to so many things I loved about Origins getting cut or simplified for some arbitrary reason. And the meandering plot hasn't really held my interest. It's mostly just a collection of side quests bundled together and called a main plot. But there are enough things to love to keep me playing.

I just wish the more interesting party members were introduced sooner. The ones they introduce first are just incredibly dull. Also, is it me or is there a distinct lack of female companions this time around? The only two (so far) that have a personality are Isabela and Merrill. And the former is basically a big busted prostitute with daggers. A fun, big busted prostitute with daggers though. Her interaction with Carver and Merrill is especially entertaining.

Edited by NeuralClone, 09 March 2011 - 02:14 PM.

"My sexuality's not the most interesting thing about me."
— Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black, "Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion"



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