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Editor: Julio Franco

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A spiritual successor to the Baldur's Gate series, Dragon Age: Origins was the first game of its franchise. Unlike many others, BioWare was wildly successful in bringing this role-playing game to realization as a true multi-platform endeavor, spanning releases on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, and of course, the PC.

Fans of the original game are no doubt excited about the recent release of Dragon Age II. Whereas many games these days are designed for console gaming and then ported to PC, Dragon Age II was initially designed for the PC platform. At the same time, BioWare has been adamant to assert the console versions of the title are not simply ports of the PC version, either.

Given our ability to fit out PCs with vastly superior hardware, it pays off when playing Dragon Age II. Right off the bat BioWare released a free high-resolution texture pack download designed exclusively for the PC version. Just as important, the game exclusively supports DirectX 11 on the PC providing cutting edge rendering features such as tessellation, additional dynamic lighting, depth of field and ambient occlusion (SSAO). When compared to DX9 we can confirm that Dragon Age II looks considerably better using the more advanced renderer.

The developer recommends at least a Core 2 Quad Q6600 or AMD Phenom II X3 processor suggesting that Dragon Age II will take advantage of more than two cores. For those happy to play the game using the older DX9 rendering technology BioWare recommends either a Radeon HD 3850 or Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS which are both very old graphics cards now.

Given the visual enhancements that DirectX 11 provides we suspect that most of our readers are going to want to take advantage of this rendering mode. BioWare recommends at least a Radeon HD 5850 or GeForce GTX 460 for those wanting to enjoy the DX11 features. These are powerful graphics cards leading us to believe that the game is very visually demanding.

With this in mind, we'll solely focus on DirectX 11 performance using over a dozen graphics cards capable of rendering Dragon Age II on all its visual glory. As usual we'll also be looking at CPU performance to see what kind of processor gamers are going to require to take full advantage of Dragon Age II.

As a side note we should point out that last month a playable demo of the game was released, which will allow you to get a feel of the game before investing your money. In the demo, players can venture through the game's prologue, choosing from three different character classes. Upon completion of the demo, players will unlock a special weapon, Hayder's Razor, an ancient dwarven blade which increases health, mana, and combat abilities, in the full release of Dragon Age II.