Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin

"A big part of the magic of Mark of the Assassin is being able to experience it with a polygonal Felicia Day by your side, and it's hard not to get giddy as a fan."

Felicia Day is one lucky gal; can you imagine being so devoted to a game that the developers would transport you into its world? Mark of the Assassin does just that for Day, but more importantly, it allows her fans to experience the Dragon Age realm alongside her. But, what if you – gasp – don't have a soft spot for the iconic femgeek? Don't worry; as long as you're up for meeting an intriguing new character, you're in good hands with Mark of the Assassin... though that may be the only substance this DLC offers you.

Now, the writers could have given Day a very generic role and simply banked on her name recognition, but thankfully, they wrote an enigmatic, multidimensional character that you're not sure if you should love or hate. Tallis is an elven assassin, full of surprises, who comes on the scene like a badass – throwing daggers, slitting throats, and executing sneak attacks, all with bloody consequences. She's not only a rogue, but just as stylish as she is sly. Also, in scoundrel fashion, she's after a relic, and it doesn't take long before Tallis recruits you to her cause. After all, when doesn't a Dragon Age character need something from the Champion of Kirkwall?

Tallis' dialogue and backstory make for an extremely captivating side story in the epic Dragon Age arc. The DLC offers some insight into key parts of the Dragon Age lore and drops hints about the future of the franchise. Some of the revelations about the Qunari in Mark of the Assassin are not only intriguing and unpredictable, but also downright thought provoking. It's impossible to walk away from Mark of the Assassin without wondering more about the role of the Qunari and what lies ahead. As with most BioWare characters, nothing about Tallis is black and white. It's great to see that BioWare didn't make the character innately good just because she's voiced by someone with a "next door sweetheart" image. Even at the end, you never know if you're doing the right thing or if you can trust Tallis, which is inherent to what makes BioWare games shine – they're always planting seeds of doubt about your decisions.

So here's the bad news: if you have no interest in meeting a new character or gaining a deeper understanding of the Dragon Age universe, this probably won't be the DLC for you. It's mainly story driven, with combat taking a backseat, and the combat you do engage in is fairly rote. BioWare did try to shake things up by adding a stealth section to complement Tallis' nature, but it's just not particularly fun. Sadly, that's the status quo for Mark of the Assassin. It won't increase your pulse rate with high pressure moments, nor will it make you feel like you've accomplished a great feat. The end boss, a beast whose appearance leads you to believe you're in for a mighty epic battle, is one of the most underwhelming boss encounters to grace the Dragon Age universe. If you want a challenge and some worthy battles, then you're probably best to play Legacy over Mark of the Assassin. Also, in true Dragon Age II form, the environments aren't awe-inspiring, but the rustic feel at the beginning of Mark of the Assassin is at least a little step in a different direction.

Before I end this review, I want to say that Felicia Day and I share mad love for lots of things, including a great love for our brooding Fenris. But now, we share something deeper: a love for each other that flourished during our time in Mark of Assassin. It was love at first sight when I saw her trying to awkwardly call a wyvern with a series of grunts. Jokes aside, yes, you can romance Tallis; and yes, it's just as cheesy and bad-movie-line-awesome as the majority of our BioWare love conquests. Day also deserves credit for making Tallis such a charming character, full of passion and subtle wit – her voice acting never disappoints. As such, there's no denying that a big part of the magic of Mark of the Assassin is being able to experience it with a polygonal Felicia Day by your side, and it's hard not to get giddy as a fan.

Honestly, what makes DLC so appealing is that it can bring you back to a world that you long since abandoned, and for some, that's enough. But will Mark of the Assassin quench your Dragon Age craving entirely? The answer here is yes for Felicia Day worshippers and Dragon Age fans deeply interested in the world. But ten dollars for the price of admission to a three hour DLC is hard to recommend for everyone, especially with the combat being such a letdown. Still, with the strong characterization, there's something here to love for fans. I just hope I'll get to see Tallis again sometime soon... our first journey was over far too quickly.

© 2011 BioWare, Electronic Arts. All rights reserved.

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