I wasn't exactly kind to the Legacy DLC
for Dragon Age 2, and with Mark of the Assassin, EA and Bioware thankfully ditched trying to build Hawke's character up as the savior of Kirkwall, and instead have thrust your character in to a more political role. How does this hold up in Mark of the Assassin? And does the inclusion of The Guild
star Felicia Day do anything to improve the experience? In short, the new story and new character are the stars here. In terms of gameplay, Mark of the Assassin just feels like more DLC, only with more bad French accents and stealth gameplay that doesn't really work in practice. The most compelling part of this new package is not so much the inclusion of Felicia Day but instead it's her character, Tallis, who is one of the better side characters of the game and provides a pretty good story to boot.
So the Seeker has a bit of new information and is grilling Varric in hopes of learning about 'the Qunari' and for those who have been paying attention, is a religion that is predominantly practiced by the Kossith. Being one to divulge information, Varric spills the beans on the story of Tallis, an assassin who shows up during an ambush on Hawke's life, and lends a bit of a hand, and in turn seeks Hawke's assisstance in tracking down a gem known as “The Heart of the Many.” It's not like Hawke has much say in the matter, so it's off to a dinner party at an Orlesian estate. This won't be your average dinner party though, with wyvern hunting on the menu along with a little political intrigue you'll find this DLC package carries a better story than Legacy. Thankfully the inclusion of Felicia Day doesn't really feel forced, she delivers her lines well and she feels like the outsider she should be in this little excursion outside of Kirkwall, and her character Tallis has an interesting backstory all her own.
The sequence of events in Mark of the Assassin lead to some interesting fights, some of which I felt compelled to completely ignore, like the new enemy, the Ghasts. These little bastards could always lay waste to my party at normal difficulty, and quite frankly that was ridiculous to experience, because it felt like I could employ no tactics to take them out. Their numbers are far too great to make them manageable with wide range skills, and they deal out massive damage when they home in on just one singular character, and trying to keep my party together to prevent them from spreading out to get picked off was met with utter failure, really I could have done without this inclusion. The other new enemies felt quite strong yet manageable, much like the final boss battle. Pay careful attention to your party during that fight, they offer some great advice over the course of a battle that is quite challenging but satisfying to complete. The difficulty aside from the ghast fights felt like it scaled well with my levels while still providing a great challenge that really taxes your abilities on the battlefield, and make me curse my mage for not having a short re-cast time on her heal spell. The 'stealth' portion of the DLC was probably my least favorite aspect of this package. I love enemies who seem to have super sensitive sight, and can see through walls if that would put me within their cone of vision. There are some pressure plate puzzle elements that felt more like a maze than anything else and are over a little too quickly.
For a side-story, it's quite disappointing that I don't get to keep Tallis upon completing the scenario, she's an interesting character who has a more convoluted past than most of the main cast, and her quirks made her an endearing member of the party while she was present. The items you'll pick up over the course of the short side-quests aren't terribly useful and it's quite annoying that I couldn't find a merchant to purchase more goods from, especially when I found myself running low on health and lyrium potions.
Mark of the Assassin is a decent expansion to the Dragon Age 2 universe and felt a lot less forced than the Legacy DLC, the inclusion of Felicia Day as Tallis is a pretty neat addition and she does a great job as the elf assassin, even though I didn't think her character model really did a good job of representing her. I'd recommend picking up this DLC over Legacy, and if I had to compare the two, Legacy is all about getting awesome weapons, while Mark of the Assassin is about experiencing a good story, so keep that in mind when looking at the DLC marketplace. It's not going to change anything substantially, but provides a good add-on for the Dragon Age 2 fans out there.