Microsoft has announced the latest additions to its list of backward-compatible Xbox 360 games on Xbox One: BioWare’s divisive RPG sequel Dragon Age 2, and Volition’s delightfully outlandish open world adventure Saints Row 2.
Dragon Age 2 arrived in 2011, some two years after its widely acclaimed predecessor, and was greeted with both whoops of joy and wails of dismay. Dragon Age 2 charts the heroic rise of human protagonist Hawke after their arrival as a refugee in the city of Kirkwall; some players loved the focus on decades-spanning stories and a quieter kind of political intrigue, while others balked at what they perceived to be an excessively streamlined core for a BioWare RPG.
Eurogamer, for its part, was sufficiently thrilled by Dragon Age 2. “With no monstrous uber-foe to defeat, even the smallest side quest takes on its own importance, feeding back into the whole and weaving a saga that draws you further and further in as the hours tick by”, said reviewer Dan Whitehead. “Some will bail out long before that, muttering darkly about the changes to beloved genre tropes. Yet more will find the languid pacing too directionless, and will duck out in favour of something with a more obvious endgame in mind.”
“It’s never quite as great as it could be,” Dan concluded, “Nor is it as successful as Mass Effect 2 at pitching itself across genres. Nevertheless, Dragon Age II presents an absorbing, sprawling story encased in blood-stained action RPG armour.”
Saints Row 2, meanwhile, was equally well-received around these parts, despite the rough-around-the-edges presentation of Volition’s tongue-in-cheek open-world crime caper.
It owes an obvious debt to GTA, but Saints Row 2 has a heart of its own, and a welcome sense of humorous, anything-goes abandon. There are neighbourhoods to control across the extravagantly featured map, a wealth of customisation options – from cars to clothing to your very own crib – and there’s even an excellent drop-in and out co-op mode.
“Some will dismiss it as GTA’s ‘gangsta’ offshoot, but they’re missing the point”, said Rob Fahey in his 9/10 review back in 2008. “With its immense scope, fun physics and focus on entertainment over realism or grit, Saints Row is what GTA would have become if Rockstar North had followed Vice City to its pimpin’ conclusion.
“It may not have the graphical fidelity or the polish of its high-budget counterpart, and will be beaten up for that, but it compensates more than adequately by answering the crucial question – ‘is it fun?’ – with an exuberant, sweary, two-fingered affirmative.”
As ever, if you happen to have an original Xbox 360 disc copy of Saints Row 2 or Dragon Age 2 lying around, both will work seamlessly on Xbox One. Alternatively, you can purchase a digital copy on the Xbox Store. Saints Row 2 will cost you £8.99 and Dragon Age 2 is £14.99.