Dragon Age 2 Review

By almost every measure, Dragon Age 2 is a superior game to the original. It's received a much-needed visual overhaul, the characters are more...

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By almost every measure, Dragon Age 2 is a superior game to the original. It's received a much-needed visual overhaul, the characters are more relatable, the writing is smarter, combat is more finely-tuned, and level progression is clearer. Despite the layers of polish, though, this installment feels like it’s lost some of its predecessor's charm. The game picks up in the midst of events from the first game, as the protagonist, Hawke, flees with his or her (in my case, her) family from the Blight. They make their way to the northern city of Kirkwall, and Hawke has to start her life anew in an unfamiliar place, running odd jobs for smugglers and mercenaries. In fact, even after I gained a reputation as Hawke, odd jobs made up most of the game. Kirkwall’s various political factions, criminal enterprises, and shop owners apparently spend most of their time asking adventurers to solve their problems. As a result, sometimes it's hard to see how the disparate fetch quests add up to a complete plot.

Dragon Age 2 gets more visual flair

The story-within-a-story is delivered by a dwarven party member named Varric, explaining the life and times of Hawke to an investigator called the Seeker. Unfortunately, aside from a few clever "unreliable narrator" moments, this window dressing is fairly irrelevant. By the end, it becomes clear that this piece is more to set the tone for future installments than to have any real impact in this game. The main plot is composed of three vignettes, visiting significant moments in Hawke’s life with years passing between them. The conceit works as a functional way to deliver long plot threads over the course of a decade, but it adds the side-effect of feeling episodic. The major threat isn’t established until the very end, and the middle "episode" seems like a detour. The missions and pacing, though, are much improved; thanks in large part to refined combat mechanics that make the game feel more natural on a console. The tech trees are clearer, and special abilities pack enough visual punch to make this game feel modern. The measly six hot-keys still feel limiting, but it's easy enough to find a few abilities that you favor and rely on the combat wheel for the rest. Plus, a wider variety of enemies stave off Darkspawn fatigue. Difficulty has been tweaked, making Normal mode a bit easier. On this default setting, the pause-and-command tactics are really only necessary for particularly large crowds and boss fights. Hard Mode is the new standard-bearer for those who prefer strategy at every turn, and Casual can almost be played like an RPG/action hybrid. An RPG is nothing without its characters, and Dragon Age 2 ups the ante of interesting, relatable companions. Like the first, your decisions impact how much they like you, but they won’t wander off. Disagreements with party members even come with rewards, in the form of passive stat boosts. While I found a few characters boring, the party as a whole was full of unique characters that I actually liked talking to. Since the entire game takes place in and around Kirkwall, you get the sense that these are friends with their own lives in the city, and they happen to accompany you on missions. These conversations build out deeper characters than just what the usual battle chatter in other games would provide. As a result, the relationships become more meaningful. Members on good terms with Hawke would engage in playful banter, and even those that disliked her showed begrudging respect. After I chose a romantic partner, I was particularly impressed to hear other characters casually mentioning the relationship, and Hawke's lover even came to offer comfort after an emotional story moment. Hawke herself was a standout as well. After the nature of the first game forced the protagonist to be a blank slate, BioWare reversed entirely and gave this one a defined personality and character arc. The improved facial animations can even express subtle changes in mood, showing everything from suspicion to wincing at a painful memory. While dialogue trees still keep the "good" and "bad" paths, the middle (aka "boring") option has been replaced with sarcasm. It usually errs on the side of good, but I gravitated towards it just to hear Hawke’s latest cutting jab. And these dialogue moments keep alive my favorite feature from the original Dragon Age: gray morality. Hawke is asked to weigh in on quandaries that really have no right or wrong answer, and sometimes I actually had to step away for a few minutes to think about my decisions. But all the quips, moral choices, combat improvements, and great characters can’t mask that this game just feels smaller. In an industry that aims to outdo itself with sequels, the journey doesn’t carry the same epic sense of scope. The Hero of Ferelden saved the world in Dragon Age Origins; the Champion of Kirkwall in DA2 merely nudges some politics. The game hints that there are larger factors at play, but we never get to see them for ourselves. There’s something to be said for giving us a smaller, more detailed slice of this world, but I wish Hawke felt like more than a footnote in its history. [This Dragon Age 2 review is based on a retail copy of the game played on a retail Xbox 360, purchased by the reviewer.]
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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 16, 2011 1:30 PM

    Comment on Dragon Age 2 Review, by Steve Watts.

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      March 16, 2011 1:37 PM

      How long on average is this campaign?

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        March 16, 2011 1:39 PM

        i can't answer that but i am on act 2 and about 27hrs in. i would say pretty long.

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          March 16, 2011 2:00 PM

          Majority of the game is Act 1. Act 2 is shorter and Act 3 is shorter still. I don't know if side quests you missed in Act 1 carry over to later acts.

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            March 16, 2011 2:37 PM

            doesnt matter because i completed all side quests before the expedition.

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            March 16, 2011 2:42 PM

            No, and sidequests you miss in act 1 cut you off from anything related to that quest in later acts, meaning not doing everything in act 1 can make the rest of the game that much shorter.

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            March 26, 2011 9:54 AM

            Act 2 was by far the shortest, but act 3 was nearly the same length as 1 for me (though i tried to finish every quest available to me). i agree with the reviewer though.... good game but it's missing something (a good story mainly)

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        March 16, 2011 1:44 PM

        A little under 40 hours if you play efficiently and do all the (working) side quests.

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          March 16, 2011 2:29 PM

          Thank you. I take my time through games, doing as much as I possibly can on the first playthrough, So that'll probably ring true for me.

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        March 16, 2011 1:45 PM

        I just beat the game last night.

        My gameplay time was22 hours 40'ish minutes.

        I did all side-quests available to me. I was a little shocked at how quickly the game ended.

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          March 16, 2011 1:46 PM

          By the way, I played through on normal difficulty, so my game time did not involve a lot of pausing to issue tactical commands to the whole party.

          I certainly paused on some fights, but on "trash" no pause was really required.

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            March 16, 2011 2:56 PM

            Normal is pretty easy in Dragon Age 2. Hard probably adds another 5-10 hours at minimum.

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          March 16, 2011 1:55 PM

          Do the other acts go by fast or something? I'm 14hrs in and only just got to the deep roads.

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            March 16, 2011 2:00 PM

            I don't know about Act 3 but I finished Act 2 in just over 28 hours on Normal.

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            March 16, 2011 2:06 PM

            Act 1 is the longest for sure, the others are shorter and have less side content

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          March 16, 2011 3:04 PM

          i dont understand. i am doing all quests and i just finished the expedition and am at 26 hrs... i did play it on hard till the end boss in the expedition though

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            March 17, 2011 2:37 AM

            The Rock Wraith?! DAMN near impossible on hard, i had to go all the way down to casual (for my shame!) in the end.

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              March 17, 2011 5:28 PM

              After 6-7 tries on hard I moved it to casual just to get the fight over with.

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              March 18, 2011 4:01 AM

              It wasn't bad on normal. I think it killed me twice. You just have to see the pattern and hide behind pillars at the right time. Though the difficulty likely also depends on what characters you've got with you and what class you're playing as. I'm not done yet but I fought a High Dragon last night and had to lower the difficulty to casual.

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          March 18, 2011 4:05 AM

          That's short. I'm 30 hours in on normal and maybe I'm almost done. I'd guess you got less quests since some might only appear if you made certain decisions on earlier quests. I'm also guessing a Dragon Age: Origins save file could have an effect. There is a character from the first game that shows up, though I think you could have killed them in the first game so if you had a save file without them that's probably 20-30 minutes cut off the time. Still, I've played seven more hours and haven't had to repeat too many battles. You also need to make sure you visit your companions often as those conversations can lead to quests.

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        March 18, 2011 6:42 AM

        Just finished last night, total play time was 42 hours. Played on hard mode

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      March 16, 2011 1:46 PM

      I disagree that this game is a step forward in a lot of ways. I think this game is a step back in almost every area.

      - The combat feels more satisfying but the constant zerg ball enemy waves really suck ass as do the constant STAGGER and INTERRUPTS that rape melee on Hard/Nightmare.
      - So many recycled areas/maps its ridiculous.
      - No control over party inventory is a sad thing and you end up with tons of gear no one can even use.
      - Removal of the "Gift" system is annoying.
      - The direction of the game is almost directionless with so many quests flying at you that you forget what you're doing, and the Quest window gives you very little information as to what the quest history is other than "Go to blah, do blah". You can end up in an area with 10 quest objectives and you have no idea why you're even there other than the map said you were supposed to go there.

      I don't know. I think its disappointing and agree with most assessments that it feels ridiculously rushed.

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        March 16, 2011 1:51 PM

        almost all points are directly related to how quickly they had to make this game.

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        March 16, 2011 1:54 PM

        Yea its like its Dragon Age MMO with only one city.

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        March 16, 2011 1:54 PM

        http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/03/14/wit-the-opening-hours-of-dragon-age-ii/ mirrors some of that sentiment. early german reviews in the bigger mags were positive but now the regular sites who didnt have early access are posting their reviews and have been highly critical of the sequel. computerbase had an especially scathing review up today.

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          March 16, 2011 4:00 PM

          I'd like to see a small study on that. If the review copy was

          Group A: Bought from retail.
          Group B1: Given to them by a third party (including publisher/developer)
          Group B2: If so, is it the retail copy.

          Then we compile the scores given by those Groups.

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        March 16, 2011 1:58 PM

        I wonder if because of the long development cycle of the original they decided to rush the sequel to try and cash in. I've heard there are a lot of recycled assets from the first game albeit refined.

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          March 16, 2011 2:29 PM

          DA2 also has Halo's copy-paste room syndrome, it's very noticeable..

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          March 17, 2011 1:05 AM

          DA:2 is 10 gig smaller than 1. I think so.

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        March 16, 2011 2:31 PM

        Gifts are still in the game, you just no longer need to guess who gets what, you'll give them the gift next time you go to their home and engage in conversation.

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          March 16, 2011 4:44 PM

          Basically it's just the "special" gifts, the ones that initiate conversations, that are still in the game. The generic relationship improving ones are gone.

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            March 16, 2011 5:19 PM

            well at least that was an improvement

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            March 16, 2011 9:16 PM

            Right, and those were dumb. I much prefer that relationships only change through conversations for the most part, since that's a far more important aspect of the genre to me than just tossing random items at them.

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              March 16, 2011 10:48 PM

              But but shoving 50 necklaces down the throat of your companion was such an important feature of gameplay. But seriously I don't miss it as it was just more crap to lug around that I had no interest in.

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        March 16, 2011 5:14 PM

        The combat encounter design is generally quite poor IMO. I found the Deep Roads frustrating as a few encounters would have new enemies warp in towards the back of my party, right next to my mage & archer. If I didn't have my camera pointing in that direction, I'd miss it until they started taking damage leaving me to reload.

        For DA3 they need to bring back the overhead view and not have combat encounters that consist of small waves of bad guys. I know they had to break apart the big encounters in DAO for the console version due to memory constraints, but I only care about PC. I want big tactical combat encounters.

        The poor encounter design is a shame considering that the combat system itself is actually improved.

        It seems like for every part of DAO they improved on, they managed to lose part of what made DAO special. I'm still enjoying it though!

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        March 16, 2011 5:21 PM

        ^^^ truth

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        March 16, 2011 5:42 PM

        Regarding your point about the smorgasbord of quests. I saw it as since Bioware went the way of recycling environments and only limiting you to one city, they had to cram as many quests they can into that "one" area. I also liked how if there was any traveling to the quests, they were either short runs or an "instant travel" thingy. The only painful walking was to the top of Sundermount.

        But I agree 100% with all your other points. Shame really but DA2 still has some good moments.

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          March 16, 2011 5:57 PM

          They didn't have to do that though is the point. They could have added unique maps for certain quests instead of recycling "warehouse", "cave", "house".

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            March 16, 2011 11:02 PM

            I guess its how you see it in context. I see it as because they reused environments, they placed all quests in one area. It seems like you wanted to know if they had more quests in the first place, they could have built/created new environments.

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        March 16, 2011 6:13 PM

        The camera is also a big issue not only the zoom out issue but the fact you have to be locked on to a char.

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          March 16, 2011 6:19 PM

          Also they fucked up the lore so much with the game by throwing blood mages, abominations, and demons at you constantly. Same with dragons. Also it is amazing the only change that happened in 10 years in Kirkwall was that they closed a gate to the former Qunari compound

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            March 16, 2011 6:21 PM

            I love in Act 3 when there's just a fucking chest high piece of plywood there to keep you out and nothing is changed. Pretty much sums up the whole minimum-work area design philosophy that permeates the game

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              March 16, 2011 6:34 PM

              I ran in to a bunch of bugs in Act 3 as well. :( Overall I did like the game but DA:O was better than DA2. DA2 was better than DA:A though.

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        March 17, 2011 12:28 PM

        100% agree'd

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      March 16, 2011 1:50 PM

      Missions improved?

      I'm replaying Origins and for the past hour or so I've been going deeper and deeper into the dragon cult's temple to find the ashes for the Earl. I feel like I'm actually on a quest.

      Dragon Age 2, you teleport to Docks get ambushed by waves and aoe them all, talk to someone, teleport somewhere else get ambushed again, aoe all waves, move on to the next missions that's exactly the same.

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        March 16, 2011 3:42 PM

        It was rushed out, so the classic hallmarks of padding are all there. Copy + paste level design and waves of enemies are all good ways to add "length" to a game without consuming a lot of resources, the latter being basically free.

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      March 16, 2011 1:51 PM

      i am really enjoying the game so far playing on and off....but the game doesnt seem as engaging as the first one was, i love the character developement but i think this review hits the nail on the head when it says it feels the game was "small" compared to the first one....was worth the $40 on pc though :)

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      March 16, 2011 1:53 PM

      You'll probably get to see those 'larger factors' in DLC, if I had to guess. You got the basic story for full price and now get to pay for numerous DLC packs to complete the story.

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      March 16, 2011 2:48 PM

      The plot of this game was a major weak point and a bit of a disservice to the franchise, especially considering BioWare's track record on previous games. I get what they were trying to do, to show the growth and genesis of a major hero in the world of Thedas, but the end result was a story with no point.

      There is no overriding evil to challenge. No grand goal you work towards the entire game. The ending comes as just another challenge to face in a string of oddly disconnected challenges.

      Of course, this could be an issue of being the middle child of a trilogy. The ending of the game absolutely says "Hey, this is all going to be REALLY important in Dragon Age 3!" If that's the case, I certainly hope the next installment is much more grand and epic than this one was.

      The story issues weakened many aspects of the game, but it was a subtle influence taking the punch out of many decisions and moments in the game. There was however one major design problem that annoyed the hell out of me and really degraded my enjoyment: Lack of variety in the environments.

      90% of the game is in Kirkwall, which doesn't change much at all from act to act. The remaining 10% is spent in the same 2 cave layouts, the same 1 mansion, and 2-3 house designs, the Wounded Coast and Sundermount. The level designers made only a handful of sets (granted, they're much better designed than the ones in DA:O) and varied them by blocking off and opening up particular routes. Going through the same cave over and over and over again, then the same mansion several times, plus wandering Kirkwall endlessly created a sense of being trapped and going through the same content over and over again.

      The missions themselves were better done than DA:O, but putting them in the same sets continuously took away from that and made everything feel very monotonous by the end of the game.

      The craft of Dragon Age 2 is great. Individual pieces really shine bright, but it's all muted by the story issues and the repetitive areas.

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        March 16, 2011 10:12 PM

        Despite its lack of focus I found DA2's story vastly more engaging than Origins, which went so far out of its way to be epic I was never given any reason to care about anything that happened. To be honest, DA2's more personal story is something I want to see more of in RPGs.

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      March 16, 2011 2:59 PM

      This Dragon Age 2 review is based on a retail copy of the game played on a retail Xbox 360

      You should put this at the top of the article, to provide context for that first sentence...

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        March 16, 2011 3:09 PM

        I don't know what they hope to accomplish by reviewing it on the 360. This site leans heavily towards PC gaming and so does the Dragon Age series. It's like they don't want their review to be heeded by anyone.

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          March 16, 2011 3:29 PM

          Exactly this. Once I saw the review platform it was time to move on.

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        March 16, 2011 3:31 PM

        The missions and pacing, though, are much improved; thanks in large part to refined combat mechanics that make the game feel more natural on a console.

        "More natural on a console" = easier to play if you like wearing mittens.

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          March 16, 2011 3:44 PM

          I find the combat to be just fine on a PC too.

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        March 16, 2011 4:04 PM

        sums up the downward spiral of the shack, the console centric editors and the god awful redesign, only a couple more nails left for the coffin to seal the death of the shack forever.

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          March 16, 2011 4:10 PM

          Is that really why you come to the Shack? Attractive comments and the editorial staff? You'd be the first.

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          March 16, 2011 4:12 PM

          I'm looking forward to the in-depth and long-awaited review of Duke Nukem Forever on Xbox 360.

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      March 16, 2011 2:59 PM

      Do I need to do DA1 first?

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        March 16, 2011 3:19 PM

        You should. But no, you don't "need" to.

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        March 16, 2011 3:32 PM

        You ought to, because DAO is a better game.

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        March 16, 2011 4:51 PM

        you'll get an idea on what/who the different organization are, the setting and all of the backstory. I feel that if you just right into the DA universe, you'd feel that it's just another fantasy-world rip-off but if you go through Origins and then into DA2, I'd think you'll appreciate the game's world even more.

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      March 16, 2011 3:13 PM

      I knew this EA merge was a huge mistake. It's already coming out in the decreased quality of the games :(

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        March 16, 2011 3:15 PM

        Uh, Mass Effect 2?

        /endargument

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          March 16, 2011 3:31 PM

          You just proved gene's point =)

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            March 16, 2011 5:00 PM

            You're so totally high.

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              March 17, 2011 8:47 AM

              Despite what the media's opinion was of ME2 (GOTY my ass) - it fucking blew IMO.

              The storyline was fucking weak - and that was always, always, the best part of the original ME.

              Very much like what has happened with DA2. Gameplay improved, but at the expense of other elements that made the games amazing - story, depth, etc. Both seuels suffered.

              Is EA to blame though? My thoughts are yes, but there is no way of knowing.

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                March 17, 2011 1:43 PM

                different strokes. different folks.

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                March 17, 2011 5:30 PM

                Agreed. I didn't like ME2 at all. The whole game felt like it was all companion quests and frankly I had absolutely no attachment to any of them.

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          March 16, 2011 3:32 PM

          already underway before the merger wasn't it? It shows.

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            March 16, 2011 3:43 PM

            EA bought them about a month prior to the original Mass Effect coming out.

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          March 16, 2011 3:45 PM

          ME2 is one of those odd games where, individually, the parts are pretty poor. But together it works, despite the main story being short and there being lots and lots of filler (each dossier/character mission).

          It does suffer the same flaws as DA2 though, especially with the conversation/giving the character a voice. Origins had pretty good writing for your character, while ME2's voiced lines could be completely at odds with the choice you made and the same appears true for DA2.

          Also chest high crate syndrome. Yay :/

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            March 16, 2011 3:53 PM

            the dossiers were filler? no they werent, those were main objectives. the whole plot of the game is building a crack team and gaining their loyalty to face a looming threat. the dossier and character missions were basically character development.

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              March 16, 2011 4:02 PM

              If there were a few less then they wouldn't have felt like filler. Or at least if all of the people you were recruiting had specific tasks (Like Morden for med, Garrus for being awesome). But it just felt like a list of boxes you had to tick before you could set off to save the universe. The DLC guy was particularly silly.

              Still a good game.

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              March 16, 2011 4:06 PM

              The main plot is pretty thin in ME2. They don't really explain anything that's happening or who anyone is. The side stories are pretty good, but some of them break down pretty quickly to critical thinking. For example, Tali is on trial for treason by allowing active Geth parts to reach home, but if you show up with Legion, no one really cares too much. I played ME2 for the first time last weekend and hadn't played ME1 and I've only a gist of the plot. I know the ideas but not the details. They just weren't there. Still the best RPG I played in a while. Some good characters. Good acting. Good combat for an RPG. Good upgrade system. Mining was shitty.

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                March 16, 2011 4:10 PM

                what you're describing was the entire basis of ME2. reapers took the back seat to your relationship building.

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                  March 16, 2011 10:14 PM

                  That didn't make for a worthwhile plot, though, is the problem.

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                March 21, 2011 10:06 AM

                Eh? They DID make a big deal about the Geth, going so far as to threaten Shephard (SHEPHARD!) at gunpoint for bringing it onboard. It's brought up at the trial and an NPC even says they're going to file a complaint for allowing a geth on.

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              March 16, 2011 4:24 PM

              And that's one reason why I didn't like ME2. By the time you were able to roam space freely, you already had your final objective. The game was quite short.

              So far, DA2 feels the same way, except you have to collect money instead.

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                March 16, 2011 4:38 PM

                as opposed to ME1 where roaming space quickly made you hate the game

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                  March 16, 2011 4:44 PM

                  That hasn't happened yet.

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                    March 16, 2011 4:55 PM

                    then you have a high tolerance for pointless bullshit with no reward because that's what 95% of the side planets are and they can easily make up 40% of your playtime if you feel compelled

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                March 16, 2011 4:49 PM

                Yeah, the only exploration in ME2 was scanning. And we all loved that!

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            March 16, 2011 4:37 PM

            I would say ME1 was exactly the same in that regard except the individual parts were worse than ME2 by quite a bit

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            March 16, 2011 6:38 PM

            The ME2 character missions were good - collecting characters was too easy in DA2.

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            March 16, 2011 9:15 PM

            I didn't mind the first set of character missions, but when an RPG centers the entire game around it, the game becomes a little repetitive and uninteresting. The second dossier set just feels uninspired and filler to be honest. I can't seem to get myself to finish it. It would have been nice if it wasn't just get character X, do character X's side mission.

            For x=1:10, repeat; end;

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          March 17, 2011 10:13 AM

          I want to love this game so much but I can't. There are aspects of ME2 that are truly great, but also so much that is subpar. For instance, the characters, the voice acting, the decision trees, the grand scale of the game and that feeling that you're working towards something truly epic is all awesome. The problem I have with the game is that the actual gameplay elements are really mediocre. Wade past the impressive gloss of the production values and attention to detail and examine the core gameplay. All the missions are insanely linear for an RPG. Even more linear than ME1. The weapons, shooting, biotics etc are all very poor compared to a good shooter. Within the first couple hours of playing ME2 I was already bored with the shooting aspect. And don't even get me started on how boring planet scanning is.

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        March 16, 2011 3:57 PM

        i really fear for Mass Effect 3. Its been a long time since a game series has totally absorbed me, I hate that EA is the way they are.

        EA cannot attract the entire population to play every game they make. Mass Effect 3 does not need to be designed so Bro Gamer Dude and Mom can play it.

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          March 16, 2011 4:57 PM

          Me, too. ME3 will have the same 18-month period between it and its predecessor as between DA2 and Origins. =/

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          March 16, 2011 6:27 PM

          I am sad in ME2 they didn't even address the Reaper threat. You just kill the 80's Heavy Metal cover. But made no headway with the council in trying to convince them that the Reapers are coming. Not to mention Shepard has no credibility considering he is openly working for a terrorist organization

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          March 16, 2011 10:55 PM

          Personally I tend to think ME3 and SWTOR are where most of Bioware's resources are focused.

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      March 16, 2011 4:03 PM

      the spawning enemies is fucking infuriating, especially on hard

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        March 16, 2011 4:11 PM

        yeah, when they just spawn on top of your weak ranged guys that you had in a clear position and you cant get back to assist them in time and they're all dead.

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      March 16, 2011 4:47 PM

      [deleted]

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      March 16, 2011 4:48 PM

      No mention of restricted options and duplicated (re lazy) environments? Poor

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        March 16, 2011 5:18 PM

        ^^^ Seriously that was the biggest flaw in the game and not even one sentence in the review? -_-

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        March 16, 2011 10:36 PM

        And no mention of the fact that you have to be in a character's favorite location to fucking talk to him.

        This review was intentionally designed and skewed in such a way as to try and ignore all of the negative elements brought up in other reviews.

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        March 16, 2011 11:18 PM

        what are restricted options?

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          March 17, 2011 12:50 AM

          Limited equipment able to be used, can't kit out your party, reduced skill trees, less variety in inventory items (junk!?) I could go on!

          I like the game, am enjoying it but there's no doubt it's got some inexcusable flaws that are all down to it being rushed out.

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            March 17, 2011 4:20 AM

            Only having 1 healer also sucks. Since on higher difficulties is makes you have to have Anders in your party at all times.

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              March 17, 2011 9:01 AM

              there was only 1 healer in DA:O more or less, which is why i played the game as the healer

              i guess you could do the same in DA2, but healing is really scaled back in this game and more reliant on consumables than direct heals.

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                March 17, 2011 12:06 PM

                Yes Wynne was the only healer. But you could spec Morrigan to heal. Merrill does not even have the ability to learn a creation based spell to even have the option to heal. Although a quick google search shows that there is a mod that allows that now.

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            March 17, 2011 9:00 AM

            i actually liked the fact that you didn't have to find armor for your group but that you could still set them up with rings/necklaces/belts whatever. from a character design perspective, its a step forward from the first game where everyone looked awful if you put them in ugly (but better statted) gear

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        March 17, 2011 1:05 AM

        The duplicated environments are fucking annoying. They are so constantly reused they don't even try to hide that fact.

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      March 16, 2011 4:49 PM

      Simply put, DA2, among other things, suffered from a rushed release. All the lore, characters and signature party member banter is all there, which I'm happy Bioware didn't fail on, but all the other negatives that tons of other people pointed out are disappointing.

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      March 16, 2011 5:59 PM

      This is a great review. It pretty much sums up how I felt about the game.

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        March 16, 2011 9:16 PM

        I liked the game, but even I can admit this was a sloppily done review.

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      March 16, 2011 6:54 PM

      No mention of the awful copy and paste locales?

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        March 16, 2011 10:50 PM

        the best ones were when you thought you were in a new dungeon but.... it's just a different texture :D

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      March 16, 2011 9:02 PM

      Wow. This player clearly did not play the first game very long. And probably on a console, by the sounds of it. I think you should call this the, "Dragon Age 2 Console Review." Because if you were a PC player of Dragon Age: Origins, there's no way you could say, "By almost every measure, Dragon Age 2 is a superior game to the original. It's received a much-needed visual overhaul, the characters are more relatable, the writing is smarter, combat is more finely-tuned, and level progression is clearer. Despite the layers of polish, though, this installment feels like it’s lost some of its predecessor's charm." with a straight face. By almost every measure, Dragon Age 2 is a great deal less fun than it predecessor. That's what a PC gamer would say.

      Here is what Dragon Age: Orgins gave you that DA2 does not:

      1) Complete gear management for your party
      2) Real consequences for choices. Try destroying the sacred ashes, have yourself a very Lel time afterward and THEN tell me how Rivalry vs Friendship is the superior system. You want to help Morrigan? Go have fun killing a dragon. Think you'd like to be a Reaver? Another dragon's your buddy, but you might have to let the noble's wife die, impacting how you are received when the guy's revived. Etc. Real choices. Not "How do I want to say the same thing? Do I want to say it in a nice way, a mean way, or a funny way?" That's not real consequence.
      3) Auto-attack.
      4) A world to explore, a world to search and move through and have your dog wiz on. Repeating the same dungeon over and over to fill in for every other quest is pretty lame.
      5) Quests that spoke to the effects you were having on the world. Certainly, not "Find the skeleton, return it to its owner (?), and get a copper for your trouble."

      The funny thing is, at one point in that review, the reviewer says, "Where most games wouldn't have banter, the banter here is great." Yeah, except Dragon Age: Origins did that already. Did it better because the voice actors were a league ahead of these scrubs. And because the characters were better, even if the story was not as "tight" (as in narrow) as DA2, you enjoyed listening to them more. It is true, DA2 is more plot-driven and I'd say DA:O is more character driven. When you're saving the universe, taking your buddies and enemies into battle with space suits, laser rifles, and fighting robots, I'd say having a plot-driven action game is fine. When you're the sequel to a thoughtful, meticulous, very huge and very open character-driven RPG masterpiece (at least on PC), you just don't follow up with a repetitious, narrow, lame character-ful plot-driven decent story action-rpg.

      Or rather, you don't and not get called on it. This game shows its 16 month development time. In every way. I'm glad console gamers are loving their version of DA2 this time, but the sad fact is this game has very little in common with DA:O and should have been a SPINOFF of Dragon Age rather than a sequel to a vastly superior game.

      One begins to see why they have to pad their metacritic scores...

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        March 16, 2011 11:00 PM

        at the end of the review, it clearly states that the game was played on a xbox 360.

        where in the review did you read, "Where most games wouldn't have banter, the banter here is great."? he talked about how the banter was fine, party members were fine, etc...but if what you said is true, it sounds like you took it in a different context. did he compare the banter to Origins or to RPGs in general?

        In my opinion, I thought the overall party member banter was better in DA2 than Origins. While Alistair, Morrigan, Leliana and Shale were great in Origins, Isabella, Aveline, Merril, Varric, the final fantasy elf and Anders are better written and their banter was better in DA 2.

        lastly, there were quests that you found some random item and delivered it to some random dude in Origins. All of those dumb board quests for the Mage collective, the thieves and the merc group.

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      March 17, 2011 5:32 AM

      Am I the only person that was happy to not have to manage gear for the entire party? I actually found it to be a nice change. I could focus on upgrades for the character I played 90% of the time. And not waste time on my AI companions. Short of the hardest difficulty, you rarely have to touch the AI if you use Tactics properly, they do what they need to do - don't really care about spending hours equipping them with loot upgrades.

      Also - guarantee you gear for companions will be modded into the game.

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        March 18, 2011 1:43 AM

        Umm... Maybe this is just me, but isn't kitting out your team mates part of the fun of party-based RPGs?

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      March 17, 2011 7:29 AM

      Can you guys put the platform it's been reviewed on in the title?

      example
      Dragon Age 2 Review
      xbox

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      March 17, 2011 7:46 AM

      After a few hours in, I dumped the difficulty down to casual, and said faak it, the raining respawns just got annoying, and I could almost time them for when they were about to come(the encounters and the rain!). I did like the couple new armor set models. I wore the act 2 rogue set for the rest of the game. Oh spoiler, I really enjoyed killing that emo elf slave =)

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      March 17, 2011 9:11 AM

      I disagree with the opening line. I think by almost every measure, Dragon Age Origins is superior to the sequel. But anyway, I still think it's a superior RPG on the market. If the competition is Two Worlds II, DA2 wins by blowout.

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      March 17, 2011 11:48 AM

      I agree with most of the points in this review, though it would have been much better reviewing for the PC rather than Xbox (as a few others have said). I don't understand where some people are coming from saying how bad this game is. I'm having a really good time with it.

      There are a few things I don't like, such as constant re-use of the same dungeons and locations and the way enemies spawn part way through a fight ruining your tactical positioning (Though this only seems to be a problem when played on Hard, on Normal your guys are tough enough to deal with it). But neither of these things is enough to make me say it's a bad game, or really stop me having fun. They're just things I would prefere to be done differently.

      People complaining about not being able to customise your party members with armour; they took away only the slots that affected appearance. You still have four slots with which you can increase that party members stats, would there be so much upset if these slots were called chest, helm, legs and boots instead? Was it really better in Origins to remove Morrigan's fancy robes and put her in a gown the same as every Mage NPC with a fucking stupid hat?

      I love the addition of the voiced main character, and the conversation wheel. As always the characters are excelent (With players split on who they love and who they hate just as it shoudl be) and I think character interaction and romance is improved as well.
      I was concerned about the combat before the game came out, but it's better than Origins. It's less clunky and more fun. I also enjoyed that side quests had a bit of decent story to them, I felt like I actualy cared what I was doing, it was used to pad out the story but as the story was pretty much about Hawk and not the events he's caught up in it felt relevant.

      Overall I think it's a very fun game that people are giving a harder time than it deserves. Maybe they built up hype and expectations too high and left themselves disapointed? But I'm happy with it.

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        March 17, 2011 11:59 AM

        It's true that a lot of the changes are just that, changes. They're not better or worse except that of course some people will prefer the new method over the old.

        That said, the re-use of dungeons and the enemy spawning is definitely a step backwards, IMO. And if they do make a third game, I really hope they change the way loot works because it still feels totally backwards to me to get so much useless loot from monsters and quests and then sell that stuff so I can buy the best possible weapons and armor from a shop.

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          March 17, 2011 12:10 PM

          The loot in DA2 hasn't really bothered me. I found it a LOT better than Origins, my inventory was always full then and I never knew what was worthless and what wasn't. But seperating loot off thats purely trash and nothing else? Why not just have them drop money in the first place.

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            March 17, 2011 12:21 PM

            It's not quite as bad as it was, but it's still pretty stupid. I can't count how many generic swords, daggers, gloves, boots, rings, etc I've picked up only to sell as soon as possible because they're nowhere near matching the loot from vendors. Occasionally a quest comes along with a good reward, but it's retarded how often killing major enemies results in nothing more than some coins.

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        March 17, 2011 12:17 PM

        what does it matter if he reviewed off a 360 or PC. the gameplay and quests and story are all the same.

        i dont like the new companion armour selection because i have so much armour that i pick up and either can't use or don't want to use and i have nothing to do with it other than to sell it no matter how awesome it is. instead i get to upgrade their armour by finding vendors or finding items that i can only find at some specific point in the game? why can't i give aveline my blood dragon armour once im done with it like i did to alistair in the last game. it's just lame. i love the game but i think this is one of the few things that really bothers me.

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          March 17, 2011 12:21 PM

          oh hey is master wade from DAO in there? is all that extra armor good for a quest perhaps????

          master wade was fucking hilarious !!!!!!!!!!! UGH this stuff sucks, bring me some good shit if you want my armor, SHEESH

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            March 17, 2011 12:25 PM

            i have not run into wade yet but i used that super premium armour that he made for me up through till awakening when i passed it over to oghren. wade was back in awakening if you missed him at vigil's keep.

            you will run into some funny shit with sandal and bohdan though :)

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          March 17, 2011 12:28 PM

          Personal prefrence, I play it on the PC and was confused at first when reading about six hot keys and a scroll wheel. Didn't mean to imply the review would have been better if it was done for the PC, just that I would have related to it more.

          I get what you mean with the armour that you can't use, it might as well have filtered straight into trash, but to me it was an inconvenience at worst. I think the benefits of having your characters looking good all of the time outweigh the lack of chest/helm/feet/gloves.

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            March 17, 2011 12:35 PM

            yeah i think that is one annoying thing about combat on the 360. 6 vs 10 hot keys. makes selecting anything other than the 6 a tedious affair so i end up upgrading abilities before getting new ones ...

            i liked how my dudes looked unique in whatever i put them in besides the mages i guess. does the armour look upgraded in DA2 when you buy upgrades or does it never change? i havent noticed.

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              March 17, 2011 12:40 PM

              I don't think it upgrades with those little notches you add on, but I know Merill's outfit changed when I was in a relationship with her and Anders changed after doing his companion sidequest.

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      March 18, 2011 6:52 AM

      Its a good thing this game isn't about the combat, because in that respect almost every other game I've ever played puts Dragon Age 2 to shame...

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      March 18, 2011 5:19 PM

      Some of the rhetoric about this game is absolutely absurd. It is, over all, still an amazing experience. The characters are great, the story is interesting; Rather refreshing to not be saving the world from the giant looming evil (tm). Rather, the focus on the social issues (Fereldan Refugees, Qunari, Mages vs. Templar) make the world a more believable place. The only REAL issues are the unfortunate reuse of maps for dungeons. The claims that the combat is bad are exaggerated. It's more robust and interesting that DA:O. Cross class combos are *fun*. Perhaps it is just rose colored goggles that people forget how boring DA:O's combat could be. Begin auto attacking. Hit abilities as they cooled down. Profit. How is that different from DA:2? But at least DA:2 has cross class combos and dynamic shifts in the battles with reinforcements showing up. Also, not a single boss of Origins was as fun as some of those in DA:2. The shift towards multi phase boss encounters is one I whole heartedly enjoy and look foreword to more of.

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        March 21, 2011 10:18 AM

        No accounting for taste. ;)

        Personally, I enjoyed it greatly as well. My main issues are the re-used environments (which everyone appears to agree on) and the rather weird, obviously-made-for-DLC ending.