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309 of 334 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2011
I have mixed feelings about this game after playing it all day. Some of the things that other reviewers didn't like really don't bother me. For example, I don't mind that you can't pick a few different races this time around. That really only changed the first hour or so anyway. The reworked art style seems much better to me. In the original, although I loved the game, there was nothing spectacular or "dark" about the setting, considering they called it dark fantasy. I think they are closer this time around.

They really dumbed a lot of it down, just like with ME2, and I think that was a mistake in some respects. You can no longer deck out your other party members with the best gear, because the only thing you can do is upgrade their equipment with runes. Want them to use a different weapon or give them better armor? Too bad.

I actually also don't mind the narrative style of the storytelling either, although it does have its drawbacks. The real problems start with the new button-mash style of play. On the one hand the original system did need some fixing. When you'd highlight an opponent to attack, you would have to move into range. Sometimes the target was running towards you at the time, so you'd literally run by him without attacking, then have to chase him down. I think they could have fixed that problem without changing it to a button mash fest. I started with the rogue and after a few hours, frankly, I had to change to an archer. Now I paly a LOT of video games, but when you are hip-deep in darkspawn, having to mash that button hundreds of times will take its toll on your poor hands. And if you've played the rogue set up with dual weapons, you know that means a LOT of button presses. For goodness sakes if its going to be that way just let us hold the attack button in!

The combat is certainly more savage and fun to watch, but when you have to press a button for every single attack, it gets to the point where you can't enjoy it anymore. The original game play let you use strategy and then watch the results of your choices play out. This new system is almost too fast and hectic to be appreciated. They made a similar choice with the path they took after the original KOTOR, which I also loved and still play. When they moved on to Jade Empire they went with the button masher scheme. I was so thrilled when the first DA came out because they switched back to a truly great system, but now they have switched yet again.

Although I think many of the reviewers are being a little harsh in their assessment, I think there is a lot of truth to their comments. I'm enjoying the game, don't get me wrong, but I think they lost focus of the core audience that made the original such a hit. I also really don't like how there is no real connection to the first game. Yes you'll see some of the characters from the original game pop up here and there, but it still seems very disconnected. Its almost like--we know you played the first game, now come play it again--but with a different guy that we will create for you--oh and you have to mash a lot of buttons too.

Surprisingly, some folks are even unhappy with the fact that the main character actually has a voice this time. Frankly I love that. I thought it was REALLY a poor choice the first time around to not give the hero a voice because it really detracted from the epic feeling of the game. So I don't empathize with folks on that point. For what its worth, I also don't like how they stripped down ME2 in terms of skills and leveling, but I still really enjoyed the game.

I'm a little concerned not only about the future of this franchise, but of Bioware in general. When they made a game--I bought it--period. You KNEW it was going to be good. But this is a really shaky installment for the quality that I'm used to expecting from them, and I hope they turn things around if there is another one. I don't feel like the game was "rushed", like many reviewers. I just feel like they stripped it down a bit too much. I think they could have kept the original gameplay mechanics with a couple of fixes and still got the game out just as quickly.

Please, Bioware, think hard about how you move forward. You have never been satisifed making games that are like everyone elses, so please don't start now.


Now that I've finished the game its time for an update! I've cooled off on some of the criticisms I had early on but gotten a little more irritated with other things, so overall my rating will stay put. But a few things to comment on...

I don't know how some folks can say that the game only lasted 30 hours. The only way you could finish that fast is if you put it on casual difficulty and ignore all the side quests. I put in nearly twice that many hours, so I'm happy with the game length.

Originally I wasn't able to change my other characters' weapons and armor. I had tried initially and it wouldn't let me so I didn't try again until a fellow reviewer told me you could do that a little while into the game, at least as far as the weapons go. You can't change the armor for any of the other characters, aside from buying these stupid little mods for their armor. I thought it was a step in the wrong direction. The cool thing about the first game was that when your main character got a cool new set of armor, you passed on your old set to one of your crew. Not possible here.

The one unforgiveable thing about the game is the repetitive use of maps. You will go back to the same areas over and over and over again. Combined with the whole "stuck in town" feeling of the game, it really detracts from the epic nature of the original game. You were out there exploring the world, seeing new places all the time. Here you're in town and occasionally you go out of town briefly to do something, unfortunately its almost always back to the same three locations.

Another small matter was the lack of the party camp. I really liked that from the first game. All your characters were together in one place and it made you feel like your party was in this terrible mess together. Now you have everyone who has their own house around town--it feels very odd to me for some reason. Why not have them all hang out at Hawke's place?

All in all a very solid game. Takes a while to warm up to some of the changes but for the most part you will. I'd probably give it 3.5 stars if I could, but its definitely not a four star game the way it is. If they had added a little variety in the maps and put a little more work into the plot they could have easily made this better than the first game, even with the changes to the combat system. But now we know how they got the game on the market so fast.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2011
+1 Month and still no patch.


Review for the XBOX 360 version of the game.

I've loved Bioware's games. Dragon Age Origins is one of my favorite games. My first play through took 60 hours and when I finished, I promptly restarted the game. The story and the conflict were engaging. The characters were unique and likable. All-in-all DA:O was a delightful throwback to games like Baldur's Gate. I can't recall many games in recent memory that hooked me as fast.
However, here I am, debating on whether or not I will ever play through Dragon Age 2 again. This game needed at least another year or two of development. It's either the result of rushed development, tight resources, or laziness.

First the Good: The graphics on the XBOX 360 version are an improvement over DA:O. The animations are improved. The soundtrack is better. The button pressing combat creates a hack-n-slash experience with mixed results. However, it does provide a more interactive experience than DA:O where you tapped a button and then watched as your character began engaging the enemy. Although, I imagine PC users will likely be ticked by this change.

The story has some amazing moments. Whoever wrote the Qunari pieces in the second act should get a raise. Those scenes were all gripping and amazingly done. Also a few of your party members really stand out. The characters "Varric" and "Merill" are great and their dialogue is very well done.

The Bad: Good graphics don't mean anything if you see the same maps and the same textures throughout the entire game. By the end of the first act, I had grown tired of Kirkwall. I had seen everything. Every cave, every mansion, every beach rely on the exact same underlying map. So the cave is always the same. It always looks the same. Bioware changes things up by blocking where you can go on the map, but 1/3 of the way through the game and I found I had seen everything. This just feels lazy. Maybe they ran out of time or resources or perhaps they were constrained by the limits of the DVD format. I don't know and I don't care. This sucks. 30-45 hours of the same thing.. over and over and over.....

The story details a political conflict. It's a political conflict that I don't want any part of because there is obviously no winner. There is no "good" or "bad" decision. Just shades of gray. No blight, just politics. I'm not rushing towards a great conclusion. I'm rushing into a Greek tragedy! Characters behave irrationally. Only thing I knew for certain was whatever decision I made, I'd pay for it later. Beyond that, your choices don't matter. You have the same boss fights regardless of which side you ultimately pick. It doesn't make story sense. I thought my choices would determine who the ultimate baddie would be, but no, you end up fighting both sides regardless of what you do. It feels forced. I played as a mage. The game centers around the conflict between mages and templars, but most templars didn't even seem to notice the fact my character was a mage.

Then there are bugs. One character's quest became bugged. It was a bug that revealed the ending of her quest chain, thus spoiling the story. I went online and found that many other people have experienced the same thing. A problem even more noteworthy if you have engaged in a "romance" with said character.

A few other bugs my friends and I have noticed:
* No achievements for DA2 Exiled Prince DLC. That's 5 achievements for 130 gamer points that currently do not work.
* Final boss fight glitches. Character remains stunned and villain is finished off by NPCs.
* You can't finish quests in the third act. NPCs fail to engage when you approach.
* Targeting problems with mages.
* Monsters in various boss fights fail to appear, but still damage player and NPCS.
* Game crashes when loading an area often resulting in a corrupted save file.
* Game triggers that are supposed to reference decisions from DA:O, Golemns of Amgarak, and Witch Hunt fail to work.

The game allows you to import your save from DA:O. For the most part, it doesn't matter. You get an extra side quest or get a forced cameo. Your choices don't impact much of anything. However, on a few occasions where the game could reference my decisions, I discovered that DA2 got my decisions wrong. I didn't spare the Architect!

On normal difficulty and higher, battles go on too long. My characters always feel woefully underpowered. Monsters will seize on one character (almost always the rogue). At this point you run said character around for a bit waiting for monsters to engage someone else. It's stupid, but one of the only things I've found to work in some of the tougher fights. Party members ignore commands. There's a cool down on potions and an increased cool down on healing spells.

I seriously could go on, but I'll spare you. I'm not alone in my complaints. Several of my friends pre-ordered as well. We've had group chat sessions that have turned into something of a Dragon Age 2 therapy session. Honestly, I'm hurt. I loved DA:O.

I pre-ordered this game and I won't make that mistake again. I'll wait for reviews for Mass Effect 3 and any subsequent DA game.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2011
I wish there were half-ratings, because I don't feel this is a baseline 3 star game. More like 3.5. Just not good enough to be a 4.

While I only experienced two freezes in the entire game, numerous things about the game bothered me. What stands out the most is the lack of creativity throughout the entire game. It didn't bother me so much that the whole game takes place in a single city, because if done correctly you would forget you're in just one city (and even if you remembered, you'd be amazed it was all one city).

I think the city of Denerim in Origins had just as many locations as this new city setting takes place in. And while a couple of the city locations are fairly large, you will travel every inch of them so many times the city loses its charm pretty quickly. And it's unfortunate, because one of the strengths or getting the player familiarized with an area is that certain locations will inevitably come to be associated with events in the game. There was such an instance while I was playing when I reached an area and I thought "Oh wow, this is where ______ was murdered." I won't reveal who because it would be a spoiler.

However, the failure of the game setting is that underground areas/caves/exterior beach levels all used the exact same design. Literally, they would just re-use the same cave for all caves (except one, I think, which was unique), and they would fill it with different enemies. Drop giant spiders, blood mages or whatever else in the cave and change the quest, problem solved. And then the design of the cave itself was ridiculous. Not only did I feel it was lazy, but it made cave exploration feel like a chore, when in Origins it was one of the most fun parts. What this means for the familiarization of locations is that the personal connection I would have otherwise felt was shattered because the same interior setting existed in multiple places.

And to expound on that point, I also felt a bit cheated in the game. Where in Origins the game took place along a large landmass and quests occurred all over it, the same locations are used over a period of ten years. So I'd take my time and work through nearly all the available quests, and then the game would skip ahead 1-3 years and suddenly I have to clear the same caves, deal with more gang problems, the same old thing. I found it cheap for one main reason. My first character was a "Good" guy. I helped out everyone I could, the best way I could. But then when the game skips ahead I'm supposed to buy that for the past three years my character was just absent from all events and did nothing to prevent the further decay of the city. It ruins the immersion.

And that's the main thing really killed the game for me. That even though "rushed" isn't really the word I would use to describe what was wrong with the game, it was sorely lacking in the creativity department.

The game still earns a 3.5 rating though, because especially the second half of the game, the story really picks up and gets really damn good. In the interest of keeping this review as short as possible, this is where I'll end my review. Dragon Age 2 was a game that had so much potential to be great, the ingredients were all there. But as with Mass Effect 2, I felt this sequel kind of moved sideways. It did some things better and some things worse than the original, and ultimately I was left feeling unsatisfied.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2011
It's difficult to know what to say about Bioware's newest offering in the Dragon Age series. The style of the game has shifted drastically, and it's entirely possible that a lot of that will just come down to personal preference. One thing is certainly true though: this game is far-removed from it's predecessor.

The first game received a large quantity of DLC post-release. I mention this mostly because of a common criticism of content such as Awakenings, Witch Hunt, and so on -- that they seemed short or rushed. This could often be explained away as they weren't full-length releases, and some issues in dialog or character development are to be expected. Origins itself had many bugs and issues. In fact, if you're playing the 360 version as of now (shortly after the release of DA:2), there are STILL broken elements in the ending which were never patched and don't accurately reflect your character's actions. Therefore, it perhaps bears mentioning that Bioware was seemingly in the habit of continuing to release (rushed?) content while failing to patch the original game.

That aside, Origins was monumental achievement in world creation. The amount of lore poured into the game was nothing short of astounding. One of the better elements is that every weapon/item you found had a nice paragraph type description. The titular origins personalized your character, and described your place in the world (whether elf, human mage, dwarf noble, etc.). Conversations took place through a dialog tree, where you selected a sentence spelling out your characters response (with the option to attempt skill-based options like persuade/intimidate interspersed). The extent of choice was not always what it could've been (in-world choices were almost always dichotomies) and your character origin often didn't have the impact it probably should have. The original game's combat emulated combat from Baldur's Gate series in attempt at real time tactical play, but that interface worked poorly for consoles, which resulted in what "appeared" to be a third person action type game. Of course, it wasn't an action game, and combat seemed slow comparatively and suffered from pathing issues and the like.

Dragon Age 2 had a lot to live up to. A giant world of potential had been created, but there were issues too. I think most players hoped that bugs in the original wouldn't be present this time around at release (things like glitched weapon damage, pathing issues, occasionally broken or poorly balanced combat) and that the promises of the first game would bear more fruit this time around (better integrated origin stories, more choices, etc.).

What we have received is a mixed bag.

The combat no longer has the same pathing issues, as you can manually run up and whack someone, a la . However, the tactical element has gotten worse, if anything. Most of the larger battles in DA2 seem to consist of endless streams of opponents appearing out of nowhere till the encounter is over. Gone is the aspect of setting traps or sizing the numbers of your opponents (because reinforcements will literally fall from the sky). Everything is sped up, but this seems to do little but make managing multiple characters more difficult. The combat animations have become comically ridiculous. A warrior with a two-handed blade leaps across the field like one of the jedi in Knights of the Old Republic, he wields a comically-over-sized sword in the vein of Final Fantasy, he swings it like it's weight-less, and can do this repeatedly to the same enemy giving the appearance of rapid wiffle-bat style attacks. Mages handle their staves like pole-dancers/band-leaders twirling back and forth as they fire blasts. The result is that the supposedly physically weak mages come off as half-acrobat. This is a gigantic style shift. Both the animations and graphics follow a comic sort of aesthetic devoid of the realism championed in the first game. The resulting characters seem less real, more like comics. The combat is now a less thoughtful and more button mashing sort of affair, and even on the higher difficulties - the combat fails to have the tactical requirements of even a game like Devil May Cry (on a low difficult).

The origins were announced to be out earlier on. Instead, the only playable option is a human noble (who starts out without any current claim to wealth). It seems painful that the nuanced variety from the earlier title has been replaced by the oldest possible cliche - a human from a noble family in a bad place. The story is less about impending doom, and more of a character study than the previous game.

The dialog system has shifted to a more simplistic one, instead of actually telling you what your character will be saying - a large symbol representing the nature of the response (halo, red fist, laughing mask, etc.) is shown on a wheel. The wheel format is fine; the dumbing down of the selections is somewhat insulting though.

The locations are generally pretty, but are repeated constantly. It's difficult to state this strongly enough. You will revisit the exact same areas time and time again. I don't mean you'll visit Al's Bar many times, but rather that if there was a map/area called Al's Bar, the exact same map would be seen again but called a smuggler's hideout, friend's house, etc. but maybe with different rooms closed off (but not altered) for the different areas. Oddly, the game's mini-map will always be the same for these locations, so you'll recognize the map easily, but the map gives no indication that a certain area is closed off this time. Basically, the area re-use and selective portion cut-off renders the mini-map pointless and misleading.

Your ability to customize your characters is more limited this time around. You can equip them with whatever sort of accessories you like, but their armor is fixed. You can find "upgrades" to their armor (which are added with no visible change). This has an interest side-effect. All the armor-type loot you find is only usable by your character; so any armor not made for your class or wearable by you is utterly useless. Armor in this game has been given two ability requirements (as opposed to what was the prior game's single requirement), and they're largely class dependent. Mages use willpower/magic, rogues use dexterity/cunning, and warriors use strength/constitution.

As an aside: The former title armor was occasionally class-restricted, but usually there was only a strength requirement. So, rogues didn't wear heavy armor, because it was heavy and their strength was probably too low. Heavy armor could also restrict ability use. An interested character in the first game could probably divert the statistics to raise strength to equip armor though, regardless of the wisdom of such a move. The second game effectively prevents characters from that sort of experimentation. By requiring TWO stats for equipment, the game effectively tells the player: "your stats need to go here". A mage attempting to wear warrior armor for example, would have great difficulty diverting points from magic (Even ignoring willpower) to both strength AND constitution.

The story generally seems less deep, and more like a collection of side-stories. The recycled nature of the environments don't help when it comes to pulling you into unique locations. Most of the party members are likable, though they suffer in some ways from the new art-style in my opinion (compare the relatively modest females in Dragon Age Origins with the ludicrously over-sized breasts of a character like Isabella (or Bethany in the intro)).

So, what are we left with? The game isn't the RPG it's predecessor was. The design seems to have focused on a younger and perhaps more mainstream audience. Much of stat/customization elements have been pared down. The dialog is more basic and represented by large pictures. The art/combat/graphic style has received a comic-book makeover. The game plays more like a action RPG with less tactics. The story is less engaging, more fragmented, the reality and gravity seems to have been kicked down a notch (if only by the art-style, the incongruity of the combat with "reality", and the considerably more cliche story). In short, this is a game that seems more like a side-story/spin-off produced by another studio as a quick cash-in than an actual sequel. It's worth mentioning perhaps, that yes, this one has plenty of bugs too.

However, this game was actually made by Bioware. The changes are incredibly perplexing. The first game was a huge success, why did they change the formula so much? Perhaps these were decisions that had to be made to get the game out in a rush (writing all those origins might've been hard? Making different areas is hard? Allowing you to customize more than one character is hard? Giving you more choices is hard?). The result is a thoroughly average game, made worse by the fact that it's so clearly rushed, and that it's made by one of the largest names in the RPG world/published by one of the wealthiest publishers out there. I could see people that didn't play the first one, that like more mindless games, and don't really care about story getting some enjoyment out of this game. It's not for me.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2011
Dragon Age: Origins was never a perfect game; but it had character, which is of epic import for any RPG game. DA2 is nothing like the original and only bears similarity in name and basic storyline.

This game is disappointing from the start; it's slow to build, leaving you initially with random and pathetic sidequests of no importance, building then to a short "adventure" (I use the term so very lightly), and then only leading to more stupid sidequests. The quests have no real impact though the style of the game and constant bludgeoning of silly tasks that have you running back and forth for no apparent purpose would make you think that somewhere---maybe---there is a payoff.

There is not.

The game ending culminates in no progression. Nothing. That is almost impossible for an RPG---to end in nothing happening. What do I mean? Well,after completing all these side quests and only mildly building potential villians, DA2 screws itself by simply....killing them off. Meaning, nothing you did mattered. At all. No point in choosing sides. The game then ends without saying what happens next except some vague talk about you leaving the city maybe kinda sorta I dunno.....
The story just doesn't have any punch. It will attempt to hold your interest and then it will go cold just as soon. This game is mostly grind quests, little more.

The characters? Somewhat lifeless by comparison to DAO. The original had lots of info and interaction that could take place at any time with the characters, this game gives you limited conversations where in you learn nothing about the characters in the game and these conversations can only happen three or four times in the course of the game. The characters themselves could have been made better, there was the potential, but no one seized it.

Combat? Stellar. Its fun, and there is tactical potential---you always have to watch your mages, etc. The combat is the only real solid thing about this game. Its quite good.

The quests: empty, lifeless, simple. This game is like WoW on console but with no online play. Constant senesless quests, on maps and dungeons that are repeated. In fact, there is only really three dungeon maps that are slightly altered and repeated for all the quests. No creativity. And the characters had a tendency to not be explained nor what they were doing be explained, so you often had no clue what was going on.

A lot of smaller things really made me feel glad I only paid $35 for this game (gift certificate and pre-order special on the signature edition...thought it was a great deal). Things like the equipment, which you can only customize your own armor though you can customize the weapons of your allies, as well as the accessories. But characters weapon choices are limited, in fact some cant change weapons. Its pathetic, one of the great strengths of an RPG is the complexity of character equipment. This is just another slap in the face.

In closing, I felt like I had to trudge through the game to get the end story, the actual mainstream of the game is mildly entertaining at best. The ending was....maddening, and left me angry and unsatisfied. Confused even. The quests were pointless, though they gave the impression that they meant something in the long run, there is no long run in the game so such is not possible.
Its possible this is a setup for DA3, and I think that this is an EA idea: create a short and hopefully sweet interim game at full price, then release another one that finishes that one at full price as well. Its pathetic, and I doubt EA gave Bioware much time to make the game either; Bioware makes gold, but since EA bought them out they have made continually lower quality RPG titles. EA is the cause of this games total failure.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2011
I have been a Bioware fan since the good old days. This game is a severe disappointment. I don't think I will be investing much more time beyond the ten hours I have played so far. It is NOT an RPG. It is an action-arcade game with role-playing decorations.

Graphics and Gameplay. The backgrounds. which as other reviewers have pointed out are recycled over and over again, are static: they don't move or change. It seems like your characters are moving against a painted landscape. The game is bedeviled with interminable load times between sequences. The voice acting is credible, but bugs in the synch often cause the speech to be delayed until after a character's mouth stops moving. It is much worse than a bad japanese lip-synch job.

The World. There is no open world to explore. Worse yet, it *feels* small. Whenever you leave a small area, you get a menu of other locations to visit. There is no sense of travel or exploration. You just instantly move from place to place. Within any particular location, there is really just one pathway to travel. You really don't have to *find* anything. So, there are no secret locations to discover for yourself. The world itself seems like a set piece and not a living environment. For the most part, the NPCs do not move around. They just stand, sit, or lie in their places. And while the cutscenes are for the most part interesting, there are way too many of them. After a couple hours, you begin to dread passing by a new NPC (who wasn't there the last time you were in the same place), because another long cutscene is sure to interrupt what action there is. This makes it difficult to get any sense of momentum going.

Combat. Combat is *terrible*. While there are lots of interesting graphical effects, there is no need for strategy or figuring out what spells or abilities to use. I'm not kidding about this. What usually happens is that a bunch of monsters appear (as if from nowhere) when you cross a certain point in your path. Then, you just mash the "A" button as fast as you can. You character more or less auto-targets, and when one monster falls, keep mashing "A" and your character moves automatically to attack the next monster. As to abilities, you just watch the timers and mash "X" "Y" or "Z" whenever a particular ability is ready again. Combat is fast paced, TOO fast paced. Really, the combat reminds me of Diablo more than a Bioware RPG.

Questing. There are plenty of quests. The problem is, they don't seem to make much sense. The quest log fills up as you experience the endless cutscenes. Sometimes all it takes is for some NPC to mention a place, and a quest related to that place will appear in your quest log the next time you open it. You don't have to agree to take the quest, or even realize that a quest was in the offing. Whenever I opened the log I would be surprised to see a bunch more quests and have no recollection of who assigned them. Fortunately, you don't even have to think about the quests because huge arrows point you to exactly where to go. There is no sense of mystery or discovery, merely working off a long to-do list that somebody else wrote up for you.

The Story. Yawn. Dragon Age: Origins began with a bang: your entire civilization was teetering on the brink of destruction and being overrun with hellish monsters. The story just picked up from there. On the other hand, in Dragon Age 2, the story starts off with you fleeing (cowardly, no?) across the ocean to a new city where you are penniless and friendless. You then start from the bottom and work your way up. It takes too long for the story to get interesting. And what story there is in the first dozen hours of play is uninteresting, overly complicated and confusing. Why do we care about these characters? Why do we even care about the main character? These questions are unanswered for far too long.

Summary. Ugh. I was totally taken by this game, which I preordered as soon as it was available on Amazon. I wish I had two days and $60 back. I think it is not coincidental that as of this writing the major review sites have not published their reviews yet. My guess is they are holding the negative reviews to give Bioware a chance to sell the game for a few days before the bad reviews appear. At the very least, you should save your money until a consensus appears. I'm betting that this game is going to be listed as one of the (if not *the*) biggest disappointments of 2011.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
I've read a lot of the reviews on this site and I'm surprised by the venom with which some people approach their reviews or the reviews of others. I'm not sure why people feel the desperate need to be so critical of each other when the game is supposed to be the primary focus. Meaning, arguing opinions that essentially amount to something along the lines of 'I liked it' or 'I didn't like it' seems foolish and counterproductive. It's probably a good idea to direct any anger or frustration you have towards the game and its developer as opposed to what other people have to write about it.

With that being written, I thought that this game was terrible. It felt too much like an arcade style RPG to me and nothing at all like the original. I unwisely pre-ordered the game, so I blame myself for the purchase. I've stayed away from pre-ordering EA games in the past - I feel like they're one of the worst developers/publishers in the industry - but I liked the original Dragon Age so much that I went ahead and pre-ordered the sequel despite my reservations.

I didn't care at all for the characters. I thought the writing was silly and not at all engrossing. The repetitiveness of the game was downright painful and impossible to ignore. The glitches are inexcusable and I have no idea if they were ever addressed. It never felt like a sequel to me; it lacked all of the charm and depth of the first game. The world didn't just seem small, it was downright claustrophobic.

There is nothing that you can read in this review that you can't find elsewhere. The game came up in an unrelated search, so I figured I'd review it like I should have done earlier. The bottom line is that this is the first game that I've ever resold. I've been collecting games for many years and I never felt so cheated. But, then, I usually do a lot of research before purchasing a game. That's nearly irrelevant, though, once you actually sit down to play the game. My expectation was that it would be great and I gave it until the very end to win me over - it did the opposite.

Anyway, my advice to anyone is to read the reviews on this site and preferably others before purchasing this game. Most people either loved it or hated it for seemingly very valid reasons. Some people loved the new direction of the series while others, like me, felt the game should have been released with a different title. Also, be very wary of anything released by EA. They're the dregs of the development world and exist solely to turn a profit. Whether a game of theirs is good or not appears to be incidental as is evidenced by the Madden series.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2011
This game was touted as an improved experience on console. The graphics, combat system, inventory system, and the overall presentation were supposed to be improved drastically. However, what I found when I played the game was a game that bioware cut corners everywhere and the game just seemed to be rushed. Some things are improved somewhat such as the graphics (although there is still little detail in the overused areas in the game) and the combat system (which looks cool but 20hours or so in you get tired of the same old animations and the battles where enemies spawn out of nowhere over and over. Overall, I do not think the game was developed around the storyline, but the the storyline was made to match the game. The inventory system was less for the developers to do in the name of progress. Your party looks the same throughout (except for a few minor changes such as when Aveline joins the guard) and the upgrades must be bought from vendors although you can change accessories and weapons. The main problem I had with this system was finding the upgrades, I ended up searching every vendor every time something major in the storyline happened and if you miss some then it seems like they are not to be found as time passes by. The other problem with the inventory system is the sheer amount of junk you find that is automatically labeled junk and goes into your junk pile in the inventory. It cannot be looked at even though some of it is books. All you can do is sell it. Well then why not get rid of it completely and just give extra coin instead? The problems just start there though.

The storyline is missing the epicness that made Origins so engaging and this alone would not have been such a problem if there was at least an antagonist through the first 2/3's of the game. Somehow 20hours in I still felt disconnected from the world, part of this comes from each area being used over and over. If you have played Origins then think of Denerim only slightly larger with a few small areas outside of it and a night and day system and that is it. The night system just seems like another excuse to reuse the same areas over and over and make it seem like its bigger than it actually is. The story also suffers because of lapses in believability, for my first play through i played as an apostate mage and although it is mentioned in conversation that the Templars are right on my tail, I never once felt like that was so, in fact the templars are so stupid that even as I cast spells in front of them (as I battled against some blood mages) they never once accused me. In fact during the conversation that followed they mentioned several times how they thought apostates were evil and needed to be stopped. The game also suffers when I do the item quests as there is no dialog or story but a random npc just says something like "Thanks I thought I had misplaced that" as you return an item you randomly found in a dungeon or sack or something. The best one was when I found someone's remains and this npc said the "I must have misplaced that" line when I gave them to him. The 10 years in the same city storyline just feels like it was built around not having to do as much work so the game could come out faster.

It's not all bad though, as where the storyline shines is with the character quests and interactions. These are too few though but they carry the weight and heart that the main quest is missing for the most part. The characters are all interesting save for the disappointing Anders and the DLC only Sebastion who are both kind of lame. That saddens me quite a bit as Anders was my favorite character in Awakening. Speaking to your party members and gift giving have both been "upgraded" as now you can only talk to them in their home base in the city and only when a quest pops up that says go talk to them. Gifts have been turned into quests and now there are a lot less gifts in the game. I would be remiss not to mention the new mass effect style conversation wheel which works well for the most part but even with that bioware cut corners as there are quite a few times that no matter what is picked you get the same generic reply from the character you are talking to. It also takes part of the fun of the conversations out as you don't pick your comment as much as you pick the type of comment you want to make. The voice acting is well done although there isn't as much voice acting here, despite the main character now talking, as there was in origins.

The leveling system has also been changed as certain skills or spells can now only be taken by certain characters, for instance Merrill cannot take any spells in the creation school. So for a healer mage your main character or Anders is your only option. There is only one true shield tank on there and it is Aveline. The main character is the only one who can take specializations now and each of the party members get options to take their own personal skills or spell school, which is neat but I liked the customization of the old system much better.

There are also couple of bugs I want to mention, the most annoying one being that I cannot attack with my mage sometimes. I can cast spells but then out of nowhere my mage refuses to attack and just twirls his staff around. If you switch characters then come back it fixes it most of the time. The other one that is just plain annoying is how loot sometimes will sit there after battle for a couple of minutes before it will let you loot it. For a fast paced combat system this is a major problem.

I love origins and gave Dragon Age 2 the benefit of the doubt since it was announced but it seems more like a spin off or a massive DLC than an actual sequel. I am still not regretting buying it, but after one play through I think I am done and it took me 3 play throughs before I started getting tired of origins. Dragon Age 2 is still a fun game but it could have been so much better. The seeds are there for one of the best rpgs available but this is the first time that I truly felt like bioware dropped the ball. Overall, I would say, buy it right now only if you are a huge bioware fan but prepare to be shocked and disappointed by the changes and the lack of polish on the title, otherwise wait for the price to drop before picking it up.
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42 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2011
I'm having a tough time finding an appropriate rating for this, the latest offering from darling studio Bioware.

On its own merits, I'd have a hard time giving the game below a 6.5...maybe 7... out of 10. It's still good, it's still engaging, it's still better than most RPGs out there.

As a follow-up to Origins, though, I can't possibly give it better than a 2 out of 10.

The engrossing back stories, intricate combat, awesome characters and sensible skill trees are gone.

Admittedly, I'm only about 4 hours in...but ask yourself how long it took for you to be completely engrossed by the original. I feel no connection to these characters. I feel no connection to the setting. The amusing interplay between exceptional characters like Alistair and Morrigan are gone, replaced with...nothing, frankly.

Combat feels stupid and frantic, and demands none of the measured strategy required by the first.

The skill trees are an absolute joke. This shouldn't require much elaboration, even among the game's most fervent supporters.

I'm told that the graphics are better and that the menus are "streamlined," whatever that means, but graphics mean little to me (especially when they were adequate in the original) and "streamlined" menu system appears to only be streamlined insofar as there are WAY fewer choices of weapons and armor for your companions.

I'm more than open to editing my review as the game goes on, but I have a feeling this game will be the turning point, the point when myself, and, judging by reviews elsewhere, others will stop trusting Bioware implicitly. I loved DA:O, ME1 and ME2 (and I LOVED what they did to improve it over the original). I wanted nothing more than for this to be a great just isn't.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2011
Dragon Age 2

Bottom line: appallingly mediocre game.

After the treat DA:O was, it's sequel is a joke. It's a dumbed-down, consolized, brainless button-masher.

The Good:

Without doubt the biggest sequel highlight is its revamped combat which has been greatly improved and can even be great at times. Although it needs some tweaking to tone down combat movement speed and remove unrealistic ninja-type actions (i.e. triple summersault leaps in mid-air 10 ft high or teleporting constantly).

- Better graphics than it's predecessor but still under par with current games standards (Witcher 2, Skyrim etc.)
- Improved combat system
- Much improved specialisation (abilities) tree. (i.e. cross-class combos)
- Cinematic combat mechanics
- Pretty environments
- Relatively bug-free
- The hero (excuse me, Champion) now talks.
- Re-used dungeons allow you to know where everything already is beforehand saving time "exploring".
- Junk loot is automatically stashed in your inventory trash

Tha Bad:

Where to start? So many problems, ranging from game-breakers to petty issues.

- Where's the epic? The publicity said: "Embark upon an epic adventure that shapes itself around every choice you make". The story is not epic at all; just some bloke hanging around in the same town doing petty repetitive chores for over 10 years. On top of it, years are fast-forward without your input. Additionally, as I go into detail scrolling further down, your decision-making is non-consequential as the same outcome results regardless of your choices 95% of the time. Tried and tested. This being an RPG is clearly a game-breaker for me. Why bother putting options at all then? Bethany dying you say? Oh please, you can do better than that.
- Poor storyline (BioWare et tu?). Feels linear and predictable.
- Poor plot. We are missing an antagonist (an Arl Howe to hate and chase down). Story is just a string of incoherent sidequests which you couldn't care less for.
- Lack of immersion
- Shallow Companions, nowhere near DA:O. You cannot even interact/start conversations with them unless in the appropriate location i.e. Merrill's house or Ander's clinic.
- Looong loading screens reminiscent of Resident Evil days.
- Whatever happened to Morrigan and the child? Bring her back!
- Recycled environments ad nauseam. You will play in the same dungeon over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Re-pe-ti-tion. They just block a door but you can still see other unaccessible rooms in your mini-map. Or they make you enter a dungeon you've seen before 20 times from the rear end so you don't notice it's the same one you've been trudging for the prior 12 quests. So lame and lazy. It would seem like a joke only the prank is on you for spending 43 pounds on this crap game.
- Sreamline abuse = removal of core key features that constituted the personal hallmark of the DA franchise. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
- Removal of Origin stories
- You can only play as a Human, unlike DA:O
- Removed coercion option in dialogue
- Removed customization (which is not equal to charactization btw, in case you forgot)
- Removed steal option for rogues
- Watered-down romance, downright bland
- Removal of beautiful love song during romance/sex scenes
- Removed "harder core" sex scenes
- Removal of crossbows (except Varric's, which you can't use anyway)
- Awful combat speed a la ninja. Can't see what the heck is going on.
- Rogues ridiculously overpowered. One backstab and Hawke's entire energy bar goes down. (Rogues teleporting..really?)
- Enemies materialise out of thin air in successive waves killing tactics as you do not know from where they will come next or how many there are. This flaw kills weaker ranged units such as archers and mages. Lame
- Prerendered cut scenes forcing combat starting positions which effectively negate player manual tactical positioning. We cannot think like generals if you guys already make the starting moves for us
- Music composition nowhere near as good and epic as DA:O
- Removal of trap-making for Rogue-types
- Removal of poison-making
- Removal of rune-crafting
- Rogues frequently cannot detect traps ! Eg level 11 rogue, with 25 cunning, in Act 1 Deep Roads shortly after meeting Sandal in a large square room with only one ogre. There are 3 or 4 traps that went undetected. WTF?
- Removal of cool animated finishing moves
- Elves look retarded
- Beards look terrible
- Removal of different enemy clases. Enemies are now mostly generic. Variety gone. Hurlocks, Genelocks anyone?
- Unable to customise Companion armour. Lame and lazy!!
- Atrezzo repetition: ox-carts spam dungeons and streets. Again lazy.
- Rogues make enemies explode at the touch of a blade (very stupid and unrealistic)
- Almost the whole disjointed story takes place within one venue, a city, Kirkwall. Moreover, within said city, you are trudging in no more than 8 re-used dungeons. So much for exploring a fantasy land. Do you remember than on dying there's a pop-up that says "Your journey ends..."? That's because you are meant to be exploring the lands, not being a lab rat memorising the same dungeon over and over again. For example, Bethesda has hired 8 dungeon-designers for Skyrim. Please spend more coin next time in level-design.
- Removal of random encounters whilst travelling from one location to another, whether fights or merchants
- Removal of camp-time. This was a fantastic feature that made you know and feel for your companions. Why not do the same in the Hanged Man for example?
- Shameful recycle of Codex from DA:O
- Darkspawn look comical (Skeletor clones)
- Way too much worthless junk loot
- Generic names cause inventory confusion: ring, belt, boots, amulet etc...
- Stupid menial sidequests that take 3 minutes, or less, to complete. Abuse of "fetch-type" (fed ex) quests that feel like tedious repetitive chores ("I found this, I believe its yours"); thanks but no thanks, I already have my life for that. Pitiful reward for completing most of them. You really have to force yourself to finish this game, least you ignore the side quests...
- Ridiculous amount of experience awarded for finding crafting elements i.e 205 points
- Lazy system of potion-making/rune-crafting (over-simplified)
- Generally dumbed-down from predecessor. (I'm not even talking about combat)
- Major flaw: decisions bear no real impact on story as the same outcome happens regardless of your choices 95% of the time (tried and tested). Why bother putting options at all? It's just cosmetic. This is truly a game-breaker for me and the proverbial straw on the camel's back. The game feels linear like ME2 and this is a BioWare RPG gentlemen, or so it says on the back of my box. Now what was Daniel Erikson's 2010 definition of an RPG again? Hmmm...?
- Terrible ending
- Stupid conversation wheel imported from ME2.
- Embarrassing simple dialogue options: bad, funny, good. With pictures in case you are confused (with a heart for romance) which option to pick. Quit the hand-holding, we are not 3-year olds.
- Clearly rushed game (Da money rulz EA)
- Poor dialogue compared to DA:O
- Hard difficulty is easy, nightmare difficulty is way too difficult. Unbalanced. Nightmare is just a war of attrition in which enemies have huge health bars that are chipped away ever so slowly (i.e. giant spider, rock wraith) that hinges on how many health potions you have in your inventory.
- Another particularly annoying and unpractical battle animation, albeit cool, are mages wand-waving when enemies are drawing near. This is very troubling on playing on nightmare difficulty because while 3 shades are approaching at 3m distance and I'm frantically clicking on the "A" button, my mage disregards my commands as he's apparently too busy swirling his wand around showing off only to be killed 3 seconds later. Not cool, please tone down or remove.
- Major combat flaw: on fighting on large open spaces, such as Hightown, the team members may spread out. Imagine I switch from my rogue over to Anders because he's being ragdolled. On switching over the tv screen freezes, turns black and a pop-up appears with a "loading..." message. It takes 4-5 seconds to actually come off and take control of Anders. This is bad enough but the problem is that the fight has continued in real time and by the time the 5 seconds are over he's already dead. And here comes the worse; when I switch over back to my rogue the screen freezes -again-, turns black and the loading message comes up -again- having to wait yet another 5 seconds to take full control of my rogue by which time he's also dead on playing at nightmare level. On nightmare one cannot afford to completely lose control of the team for 10 seconds or more. This flaw needs to be addressed ASAP.

In conclusion

If you like deep, rich, epic immersive storylines in a cRPG where you get to visit and explore a fantasy land, such as the ones BioWare was renowned for, you may want to look elsewhere. DA2 will not appeal to you. You have been warned.

If you rather enjoy casual, laid-back action adventure games, that don't require much thinking, but are taxing on your button-mashing abilities, look no further; Dragon Age 2 is your kind of game. Moreover, if you liked DA2's demo, you'll love it.

If you loved its predecessor, Dragon Age: Origins, like me, you will probably dislike DA2 which is a completely different game that only bears the same name; similarities end there.

My advice: rent it first before buying. In my book (RPG lover) this game is clearly the definition of a day-one rental. If you really must have it, wait until the GOTY or when the Ultimate edition is released.

Imo, it's a rushed, consolized game devised to cash-in unashamedly on DA:O's success. The franchise has made the -failed- transition from the cRPG genre over to the "Action"-RPG genre (consolization or casualization, whatever) with the aim to broaden its fanbase (EA making more bucks whilst BioWare sells itself out) on the wake of Mass Effect's 2 success.

Utter betrayal of loyal fanbase.

It's the RPG equivalent of the disservice Xbox's Civilization Revolution did for the classic PC Civilization franchise i.e. remove grey matter and substitute it for "an awesome thing will happen on pressing da button" (sic)

The only way to actually like this game and give it a 5 (doesn't deserve more) is if you completely forget DA:O AND ignore the fact this game is actually a sequel to one of the greatest all-time RPG's. So if you are able of the afore feat and disregard there's a "2" slapped right at the end of DA you may think this game is okish. In fact, if DA2 had been done by a third party, I would say meh, give it a 5, and wouldn't have even bothered to waste my time reviewing at length, moving on to a true RPG game.

But as it turns out, it's a BioWare game. Well my friend, it isn't ok, its garbage. The game was marketed and sold as an "epic" sequel to an existing consolidated franchise; not as a non-related DLC which is what DA:2 really is. The only thing epic about DA2 is its failure by all accounts.

If ain't broke, don't fix it.

DA:O was already the commercially (and critically) successful blueprint on which DA2 should have build and improved upon. Why such a radical departure (180 degrees) from an already consolidated and highly profitable franchise with an existing fanbase? DA2 fixes successfully everything that was NOT broken from DA:O.

The changes made to DA2 are not in line with those brought about by ME2 in respect to ME1. Streamlining made sense in ME2 because it improved the gameplay redunding in a better user experience without detracting from ME's personality, or at least not that much. DA2 radical departure are no improvement, they make for a completely different game that alienates the existing fanbase which had different expectations more in line with the original game. The sequel, let us not forget, was sold on the piggyback of the first installment.

They said: "Think like a general, play as a Spartan". More like mash button "A" until first wave of enemies are wiped out. Take a pause so your white knuckles recover, rinse and repeat. Hack-fest at its best. Dungeon Siege developers would be teary-eyed proud of DA:2.

Not up to BioWare's standards. Easily this years' biggest disappointment.

Contender to Skyrim or the Witcher 2? Ha ha ha, what a joke. Serious contender to occupy the racks of second-hand games in your nearest gaming store along with Kane & Lynch and Homefront within three weeks of its release.

BioWare get your act together or you risk alienating your fanbase, you know, us who pay your mortgages. One more red strike like this and you are out BioWare, for good.

And finally let me close this review with some friendly advice. Companies should never mess-up with their customers, specially long-time hardcore fans, much less mistreat them or insult them. And that goes for Mr Laidlaw, DA2's lead designer, and his ridiculous interviews.

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