on March 8, 2011
The original Dragon Age was a true masterpiece that marked gaming history forever. It was an epic cRPG that not only absorbed you into a world of scheming nobles, romantic witches and invading darkspawn but it was also an exercise in morality choices and balancing the clashing personalities of your companions. Following in its success, everyone and their grandmother is waiting to play the sequel (for some reason, the grandmother usually opts for a handsome rogue character). However, the question is this: does the sequel prove worthy of the original?
Well, like an embellished Varric's tale, it seems to be a mix of good-news and bad-news.
LEVELING UP (FINALLY) MAKES SENSE
In most cRPGs, leveling up involves adding points to strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence etc - which, in turn, have an effect on health points, dialogue options, defending ability and damage dealt. By reading the manual you know what affects what, however, in most games, you cannot readily see those effects as you level up. Not so with DAO2. Every point added to an attribute will increase the derived statistics on the same screen.
COME FOR THE LOOT. STAY FOR THE STORY - YOUR STORY
Your hero, Hawk, lives during the times of the last blight, fleeing Lothering as it is burned to the ground. Your decade-long story is narrated by Varric Tethras, a companion of yours. However, how the story will twist and turn is entirely up to your actions and choices. The story will absorb you completely because it reaches so many bifurcation points that, in the end, it is entirely your personal creation. And, yes there are companions with...benefits here as well ;-))
I am guessing blood-branding the bridge of one's nose will be the next fashion fad.
THE FREE MARCHES NEVER LOOKED MORE BEAUTIFUL
In a nutshell: you are not actually playing the promo video but the graphics are beautiful.
The armor and clothes could use some more work in depth and texturing but the environments, the warrior moves and the spells look spectacular (keep in mind that said moves and spells will also start to look familiar after a while, especially since they look much more impressive than the actual damage they inflict - and have to be repeated again and again in every battle).
What I truly missed though was the isometric tactics perspective! The camera does zoom in and out and it pans around but it is no longer possible to get a bird's eye view of the battlefield and plan your attacks accordingly. And this was not the only thing I found missing.
FEWER OPTIONS ARE HARDLY EVER AN IMPROVEMENT IN AN RPG
In DAO I favored a dual-wielding warrior, building up both strength and dexterity, equipping him with both Maric's blade and Starfag and giving him all the cool moves of double-yielding. Well, although DAO2 is hardly short in cool moves, it offers less specialization options in order to make warriors and rogues visibly distinct on the battlefield - hence a warrior in DAO2 cannot dual-wield.
Do you find being human in a fantasy game trivial and prefer to play the role of an elf or a dwarf? Sorry, Flemeth did not see that in your cards: EA decreed you can only play a human in DA2 (and I am laying the blame on EA simply because something tells me it was a cost-cutting decision).
Personal preferences aside, the number of abilities and skills has also decreased - and some, like coercion, I outright missed.
WHAT'S NEXT, RPGs WITH EMOTICONS OVER THE NPCs' HEADS?
What I also missed was real dialogue options. If, like me, you found DAO laconic, you will sure find DA2 almost, well,...illiterate. Sure, your hero now has a voice but did the dialogue options have to consist of such short summary-phrases that give you only the gist of what is to be said? And why did those options have to be presented on a (Mass Effect!?) dialogue wheel with...visual hints on the attitude of the responses available? More often than not, you end up saying a completely different thing than what you intended...
Give some credit to your customers Bioware, we can read!
AM I PLAYING A FANTASY GAME OR WAS I BEAMED TO THE BRIDGE OF NORMANDY?
This is the first thing that hits you actually. Playing, and enjoying, a fantasy cRPG requires immersion - and the graphical interface plays an essential role in this. It was not by mistake that Baldur's Gate had menus designed as if chiseled in stone, whereas Icewind Dale's were as if carved out of dark wood. The interface sets the mood of the game. Now, can someone please explain to me what are ...SciFi (read, Mass Effect!?) menus doing in a medieval fantasy game?
Not only does one expect to find himself in a spaceship whenever the skills-tree or inventory menu is closed, but the in-game information is now displayed in smaller portraits with horizontal bars for health-&-stamina/mana. The portraits have moved from the upper to the lower left side of the screen; however, if opening up the screen for gameplay was the aim, well, they now seem to take up more space than before. Not to mention that they are harder to see.
WHAT GAME AM I PLAYING AGAIN?
Watch a gameplay video of the upcoming Dungeon Siege III and Diablo III and try to answer this: can you really tell a difference in the gameplay? Sure, their stories and graphical styles are bound to be somewhat different but action games, hack&slashers and RPGs seem to have merged into a single hybrid-genre of quick cinematic moves, looting, bartering, re-equipping and leveling. And DA2 did not escape this.
Whereas DAO had lots and lots of character, its sequel appears to have clearly favored style. I am sure it tested better on the teenage (console-seasoned) target groups - but I am also sure that said target groups did not include any RPG purists.
(ALMOST) REASONABLE DRM ADDS EXTRA POINT TO FEALTY
EA dropped the ball with the recently released and over-DRMed DAO-Ultimate Edition so, hopefully, they learned a valuable lesson. Going the draconian way of UBISOFT & 2K GAMES only manages to shoot your own sales on the foot. Surprisingly, DA2, although not perfect, sports a reasonable DRM scheme.
The game requires initial activation (add half a star to the overall rating if this is not important to you) and it will re-authenticate every time it is run and it has access to internet connection - but it will not require to do so in order to run. In other words, once activated at installation you can block its internet access and it will run fine. Moreover, it contains neither disc-checks nor any form of SecuROM - at least according to the official EA/BIOWARE announcements. Let's only hope this customer-friendl(ier) trend holds when the DLCs start rolling out...
Initially I had rated the game at 3.5-stars game - and then rounded my rating up rather than down because of how much I enjoyed the series overall. However, as I progressed I realized that I could not honestly give this game more than 3-stars, pedigree or not.
DA2 is a good-looking game that relies more on its stylish hacking&slashing than any uniqueness of character and on the appeal of forging a personal story rather than following a deeper preset one.
Without any hesitation, I would choose the original game over the sequel. DA2 may not measure up but it is still a fun game on its own, one that will stay with you long after the last blade is swung and the last spell is cast.
on March 16, 2011
Let me start by saying that I play both PC and Console games so don't have a bias in that regard. I purchased the PC version with the free collector's edition upgrade. This means that I received most if not all of the DLC available at launch for no extra charge. I chose to purchase the PC version over the PS3 or Xbox360 versions simply because there are no mods for console versions and I personally like mods. Unfortunately, Bioware has announced that they have no intention of releasing any Mod tools for DA:II although they did say they would consider updating the tools from DA:O to make them compatible. We shall see if that actually happens.
The DLC really did not affect my ratings as the equipment was not enough of a factor in the game to matter, and I very rarely used the extra companion. If I had failed to preorder and actually purchased the game and the DLC separately, I would have given the overall game package 2 stars instead of 3. This is because I already feel that I overpaid, even with the bonus content I have already received.
During gameplay I experienced a 20-45 second lockup about every 20-30 minutes. This required me to alt/tab to my desktop to resume play. I also found a few quest continuity errors, graphical glitches and other random issues. I did not deduct points for the games overall somewhat buggy feel as BioWare has already acknowledged these issues and I expect them to provide a patch fairly quickly.
My goal is to explain why this game succeeded or failed on its own merits rather than comparing it to Dragon Age: Origins.
When it comes to "fun", I have given this game two stars. This game suffers greatly from a lack of variety in the questing locations, a lack of flexibility in the talent trees, generic and unfinished itemization, and an overall unfinished and unpolished feel. This all combines to make playing this game seem more like a chore I'm plodding though than an epic gameplay experience I'm participating in. Near the end I found myself actually becoming somewhat angry when I would get what seemed to be yet another pointless side quest as I just wanted the game to finally be over. I actually considered not finishing the game; but I felt that since I had already invested so much time, that I would go ahead and grind my way through to the end.
I bumped the game overall up another star for two primary reasons: 1) The sheer number of quests and 2) There were a few very engaging storyline elements where I could see this games potential trying to shine through. This is definitely not a bad game, but it's not a great game either. Unless it's fleshed out with some serious DLC, it will be relegated to the bargain bin with all of the other mediocre releases. If I were to actually compare this game with its predecessor Dragon Age: Origins, I would have probably given it a solid two stars across the board simply because of all of the things that were removed.
First the good:
1) There is a LOT of quests. Each time I thought I was coming to the end, an entirely new line up of quests would open up.
2) Some of the quests were actually pretty fun to complete. The quest line involving Varric's house actually made me laugh out loud at one point.
3) Normally when I get a new game, one of the first things I do is turn off the music. I never turned off the music in this game. It's not amazingly awesome, but it does enhance rather than detract and that's all I ask.
4) The banter between characters is pretty good. Nowhere near as good as in the original game but good enough to be called an asset rather than a liability.
Now the bad. Unfortunately there is more bad than good in my opinion. I am going to break this down into sections for readability.
Gameplay Mechanics and Combat
After each fight, your party regains full health and mana and everyone who died is brought back to life.
This makes things such as healing and mana potions almost irrelevant unless you are playing on hard or nightmare. When I finished the game as a mage on normal, I used a grand total of 3 mana potions and 6 health potions start to finish. The only other potion I used was a couple of "fix injury" potions because someone happened to die early on. Those become irrelevant as soon as your healer is able to resurrect people without injury.
There is no combat strategy required.
Every fight consisted of me sending the tank(s) to the middle of the room and letting the first wave of mobs swarm him/her. Once they were nicely grouped, the mage would cast some combination of fireball/firestorm/electrical storm which would take out all but the one or two higher level mobs which everyone else could then gang up on. By the time the next wave of mobs spawned all the AoE's were off cool down so I could do it again. Yes, there were two or 3 "boss" type fights but they just took a little longer to tank and spank. It didn't matter whether or not I was fighting a group of blood mages, Templars, or poisonous spiders, the same tactic worked every time. If someone died it was because I wasn't paying attention, not because the fight was too difficult. I also really didn't care whether or not anyone died as they would just self rez with full health at the end of each fight.
This brings us to enemy variety...or actually the lack thereof.
There are "Guys in Armor", "Guys in Cloth", "Demons", "Spiders", "Dragons" and "Other." "Other" consisted of a Rock Golem model, a Wild Dog model, and an undead corpse. Even the main boss mobs were some sort of "Big Dragon", "Big Stone Golem", or "Big Spider." 6 enemy categories may sound like a lot of variety but when you find yourself running through the same cave, killing the same spiders which spawned in the same places, using the same tactics, for the 30th time, it begins to get old.
Most of the items and quest rewards are only wearable by the main character and the stat requirements make them class specific. This means that if your main character is a mage, that awesome piece of tank armor becomes vendor trash instead of another party members needed upgrade.
Because most of the armor is unusable by your companions, they look pretty much the same throughout the entire game. I'm not usually one to complain about in-game fashion but it did get somewhat annoying watching my main character get clean clothes while everyone else kept wearing the same stuff for 6 or 7 levels. This issue is purely cosmetic as the stats on your equipment really don't make much of a difference.
Other than the DLC and one or two quest rewards, items aren't even really named. Everything is just something along the lines of "cracked staff" or "fancy dagger." This makes it difficult to remember which you actually wanted to equip when you have a full inventory of crap you are trying to decide whether to keep or sell.
You are not able to see the equipment of anyone who is not in your party. If the game had a "camp" feature similar to the one in Dragon Age: Origins, this would be a minor issue. Since It doesnt, it becames a major annoyance to swap out all of the various characters to see if they need a certain piece before I sold it. This was made especially frustrating when you take into account that most of the equipment pieces have the same generic name.
The voice acting got annoying after a while.
While not terrible, the voice acting was far from top notch. After a couple of hours I ended up turning on subtitles and pressing escape rather than listening to the voices during cut scenes
You can only play one race as your main character...Human.
A fantasy RPG that only allows one race feels very limiting. Yes, you are able to get companions of other races but they seem like nothing more than short humans with pointy ears. There are no racial bonuses, penalties, or abilities. It also limits replay ability. Since the entire game takes place in one city, the lack of different starting areas absolutely kills any hope of replay ability.
The companions seem to be poorly thought out.
There are 2 Rogue companions (3 if you bought the DLC) , 3 Mage companions (4 if you don't start as a mage), and 3 tank companions (two if you start as anything other than a mage.) This sounds somewhat balanced until you realize that, depending on your main class choice and a few early story choices, you may end up losing 2 of the three tanks, the only dagger rogue(the other two can only use bows) and your only healing mage.
The companion skill trees are also lacking.
If your tank is a two handed fighter, learning sword and shield is not an option nor is any form of ranged weapon. On the other hand, a rogue who uses daggers cannot use a bow and vice versa. I could understand a proficiency penalty, but completely locking every companion into a single weapon choice seems like lazy design. This can be especially frustrating if an unexpected story fork removes a companion and takes with it a skill that you had come to rely on.
I listed the large number of quests as a positive above. The sheer number of quests is a positive, the way they are implemented is an overall negative. Because the entire game takes place in a single city with basically a single outdoor area with a few caves, everything seemed to blur together. All of the outside quests used the same cave maps and most of the quests in the city involved me running back and forth between the same one or two buildings with what seemed like a few randomly spaced fights sprinkled in for variety. Eventually I found myself not even reading the quest text. I would just open my map, look for the area with the most quest icons, and then run around that zone killing whatever attacked me. When my map was about empty, it was time to read my mail and talk to my companions to refill my quest log.
I also realized about halfway through that most of the quests really serve no purpose other than to stretch out the game. For example, at one point I was offered half interest in a working mine in exchange for protecting the workers. Fast forward 2 years later in game time and I realize that my mine is giving me absolutely no benefit. Why did I waste my time clearing out the monsters if I'm not drawing a cut of the profits? Another example is that after one quest I supposedly found enough wealth to fix my family estate and support my mother. If that's the case, why am I still broke when I look at my inventory? Shouldn't I have ended up with at least a little walking around money?
These particular examples are really not major issues though since money is useless. I think I bought a grand total of 3 items throughout the entire game and that was only because I wanted the achievements for equipping my companions.
Somewhat convulated story line.
In most RPG's, there is some sort of main story arc tying things together. In this game, I had no idea where things were headed until right near the end. I felt like I was just working a bunch of part time jobs in different parts of the city until all of a sudden the story kicks in near the end of the game. Granted a big part of this might be because I quit actually reading the quests about halfway through.
I tried to like this title. I really, really did. Unfortunately this game feels like a late beta product rather than a production title. There is just too much "stuff" missing for it to be anything other than a below average title from a usually above average developer. If BioWare were willing to develop some decent DLC to flesh out the world and distribute it for free this could be a great game. Until that happens I will consider this simply a mediocre game that I paid way too much for.
on May 23, 2013
Just like many other reviews, I agree that this game might not have lived up to the anticipation from the success of its predecessors, but is this really a bad game? Absolutely not.
For you to read this review, i'll go ahead and assume that you have played or at least experienced some part of Dragon Age Origins, so I think it would be easier to review this game as a comparison between the two.
Graphics: This game took a slightly different approach to graphics, making the characters and environment look a bit watercolor-ish. Visually it really isn't any improvement over the first one, and you don't really get better texture or detail or anything that would create an eye candy. Overall i say the two are tied.
Story: Dragon Age Origin painted an epic scale world adventure, with a humongous amount of background story and locations for you to explore and get to know the world, a truly satisfying experience. Dragon Age 2 is completely different. Instead of trying to save the world, you more or less experience the growth of a character as he climbs up the rank in society with his heroic adventures and meet companions along the way. Both games have really great stories, but overall in terms of main story, Dragon Age 1 comes out a bit ahead.
Gameplay/Combat: Dragon Age Origin was more of an RPG, where you give command to a character and then just watch him execute his moves. It was fun, but kind of bland in a sense. Dragon Age 2's combat became a blend of action and RPG, while keeping the old pause-and-command feature, the controls of the characters also became a lot more dynamic, where in order to survive, you will have to run across the battlefield, find cover, and strike enemy at where it hurts the most. The combat in Dragon Age 2 feels a lot more fast paced, intense, and engaging. Also friendly fire is pretty much removed from Dragon Age 2, whether if that's a good thing or not is for you to decide, but for me it was a welcoming change since I prefer raining fireballs everywhere.........everywhere........
Side Quests: The side quests of Origin tends to be bland and carries very little weight, and feels detached from the main story. Dragon Age 2's side quests are much better in my opinion. The side quests in Dragon Age 2 is closely connected with the main story and carries way more impact. The side quests in 2 is filled with options, moral choices, cinematic and dialogues, making you feel a lot more engaged and interested, and not just something that you do to get a few coins or a better pair of gloves.
Customization: Dragon Age 2 is a disaster............you have pretty much no control over your companions armor, and some of them even have a permanent weapon that you won't be able to change. The skill customization is also toned down with less available skills in the form of a skill tree, but one thing that i really enjoyed was the ability to learn and upgrade your spells, making them significantly better for combat.
Content: Without playing most of the side quests, Dragon Age Origin clocked in about 55 hours total for the main quests. While playing almost all of the side quests and looking for the best weapons/armor/runes, Dragon Age 2 clocked in at about 32. Quite significantly shorter.
Overall: Yes, this game is a bit less than it's predecessor. If Dragon Age Origin is a 9, then Dragon Age 2 is around an 8. But please, give this game a chance before giving up simply because of some of the negative reviews, if you really have a doubt, wait for it to go on sale and grab it for a try.
on March 14, 2011
First and foremost, I played the first Dragon Age on the PS3 and thought it was a great game. But 2 days before DA2 was released, my PS3 died (red light of death). And I am still not sure if I'm going to replace it or not.
So I got the PC version of DA2. And I must admit that the keyboard / mouse combo is not my favorite and I enjoyed the PS3 gamepad controller better.
I also don't have the graphics card to run DA2 in DirectX 11. But my quad core with 4 gb of ram (32 bit) ran the game just fine and very smooth. I had no problems with lockups or bugs.
But, for me, this game lacked the integrated story of the first one and seemed to be just more menial shorter tasks of running errands for other people instead of an epic adventure like the first Dragon Age. It didn't seem to have the big build up to a grand finale like the first one had. It just seemed much more segmented without any cohesiveness to it. Personally, I think Bioware could have done a better job wit it.
So from that stand point, it felt flat. And I agree wih the other reviews, I was suprised to see the same maps and terrain used over and over. There seemed to be little variety and was just kind of there instead of inspired.
I played straight through for the most part and while it was a decent game overall, I wouldn't put in the great category like I would the first Dragon Age.
on January 26, 2014
I had already owned the xbox version and most of the DLC. In preparation for the next one in the series, which I will be buying on the PC, I needed to replay through the PC versions. Got this one on sale for 5 bucks at Xmas 13.
The game does however use origin, which is ugly and bad compared to Steam. I wish it had used steam also but EA had to use their own system when steam was already doing it right.
This did come with the bonus DLC if I remember right, as in the DLC for the extra store called the emporium is included along with the mabari hound I believe but I think thats it.
I loaded the game to make sure it worked and everything seems fine. I have to play through the PC version but with the ability to use mods and more to improve graphics etc it is much better then the console versions.
The gameplay itself compared to the first in the series is drastically different.
1. The actual fights are faster and much easier even on higher difficulties.
2. The default attacks for each person are much better then the first and you feel as if non ability attacks actually do some damage.
3. The level design is much simpler in this version, places are constantly reused, the same texture gets used hundreds of times for level designs.
4. The ability to use mods is a huge improvement. I am able to use a texture mod to make everything in the game use 4k resolution textures.
5. The gameplay itself much the same as the first in the series.
6. Conversations are now much more limited. This is where I start taking points off. I loved having 6 or sometimes even more choices in a conversation with anyone, there were many outcomes for each choice and it branched off in huge ways. Now the conversations use the Mass Effect style of choice and give you 6 options and tells you which ones are good or bad for companion talking.
All in all I enjoyed this game MUCH more then the first in the series because I could replay this one faster and easier and see all the endings/achievement hunt. Now I need to prepare for the next in the series with a new save to continue from.
on December 2, 2011
To preface I have beaten Dragon Age on the computer. They took almost everything about Dragon Age I and ruined it in this game. Character dialogue is rehashed almost as much as the terrain and environment, you will see the same dungeon multiple times and it truly is game breaking, do not let anyone fool you. There are only so many times you can go on a fetch quest in the same dungeon. Yes the combat is still for the most part interesting but void of almost any difficulty unless you forget to click. Liking the art is subjective so im not going to go into it but for the most part the game looks decent on high graphic settings aside from the occasional graphic hiccups. Quests are tedious and forgettable with few moments that actually stand out. Game lacks any variety and is forgettable compared to the first DA.
on October 21, 2013
***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***
I originally came into contact with the Dragon Age games due to my friend. She went on and on about a certain elf named Fenris and I was dying to know what she was talking about. And, so, I sat down and watched her play...and thus my addiction began.
Very differently than most other people, I enjoy Dragon Age 2 more than Dragon Age: Origins. Origins felt slow and when I played it, I felt like I was stuck in the castle forever. I wasn't very keen on the looks of the characters or of how hard it was to use a mage. As a result, by the time I got to the second game, I was not fond of mages in the least and still sucked at playing as them. I am a rogue through and through. But that is an opinion and preference and I'm talking about DA2, not Origins. So, I suppose it is best to simply dive right in.
Plot/Story Line: 10/10
I greatly enjoy the storyline of DA2. It isn't as in depth as some would like and I even find it falling short in some areas in comparison to others.
Dragon Age 2 takes place about a fifth of the way through Origins, give or take. In the beginning of Act 1, Hawke (you) and your family are fleeing the destruction of Lothering during the fifth Blight (this is after the beginning cut scene with Varric and Cassandra). After you flee your home and make it to Kirkwall, you spend a year working off your debt to get into the city. When the year is complete, you are looking to make some coin and that is basically the whole goal of Act 1. This act is where you find all of your party members (save Aveline and either your mage-sister, Bethany, or your warrior-brother, Carver) and begin your journey. Act 1 is focused mostly on the Deep Roads Expedition. There are various side quests (like "Bait and Switch," "Tranquility," and "Fools Rush In") that gather who is to be in your party along with simple fighting or find-and-deliver quests that both save up money for the Deep Roads and help to level up Hawke. To cut down on spoilers and save time, you basically save up 50 Sovereigns, complete several quests and then go to Bartrand (Varric's brother) and insert yourself into the Expedition. Who you take in can also affect several outcomes so it is wise to plan your party carefully.
I won't delve anymore into the story to keep from spoiling excessively. As a general overview, there is much time that passes and it all syncs relatively well with its predecessor.
Various Tasks (Quests): 9/10
I know most people find the Quests annoying but, again, I seem to be different. Yes, I will admit that some of the quests are pure Hell. (DO NOT ACCEPT ANY QUESTS FROM THE HERBALIST!! It is just awful!!) There are a lot of quests, however, that can be really entertaining depending on who you take along. For instance, "The Long Road" quest centers around Aveline trying to court Guardsmen Donnic and, though monotonous and a bit tedious, it is very entertaining to see such a woman as Aveline falling over herself and flailing about like a fish. The flirting options are also very entertaining with Aveline, though she refuses your advances. The end result is worth the work and, if you're an Aveline-loving fan, be sarcastic when she says "I don't know how I can every repay you..." (or something to the affect) and she kisses you. I shocked prior-stated friend by disproving her theories of Aveline. Back to the important part--most of the time, who you have on your team can bore or entertain you. With "The Long Road," Isabella is a must-have. Her witty comments are just amazing and her argument with Aveline is priceless. I take Isabella everywhere just to hear how funny she is.
Overall, there are several quests that are very entertaining and some you just wish would end. That's how it goes and every game has those love-hate moments.
Development of Characters/Character Profiles: 10/10
The characters in this are amazing. I love them so much. However, you can tell that this game is geared more towards men than females because of how farther the female story lines are.
The "main" characters (excluding yourself) consist of Varric, Aveline, Fenris, Anders, Isabella, Bethany/Carver and Merrill. "Varric" is a rogue-dwarf and the storyteller of Dragon Age 2 who is always seen with his trusty Bianca. He makes his wonderful reappearance in DA2 by being drug in at the beginning to be questioned about the Champion (i.e. You). You cannot romance Varric. "Aveline" is a woman Hawke meets when running at the beginning of the game. She is a complete warrior type woman and you are there when she loses her husband to the Dark Spawn. You are relatively close to her which is good because she eventually becomes Captain of the Guard in Kirkwall making her a huge asset. You can flirt with Aveline but I don't believe you can be with her. "Fenris" is a former slave and an elf. He escaped his captor Danarius but, as time goes on, you learn that Danrius is still searching for him. He is the quiet one that, being a warrior, is very strong. His story doesn't really evolve until the Second Act in the quest "A Bitter Pill." You can romance Fenris and there are two sexual scenes with him (that I know of). "Anders" is a mage housing an entity known as Justice. He makes his reappearance as the "Grey Warden" in the quest "Tranquility." Anders is the softer type and is VERY easy to romance. You can romance with him often and the results bear fruit very early on in Act 2. He does deceive you so, unless you ask the right questions, you'll never known. "Isabella" is definitely one of the stronger, female characters with an absolutely amazing story line. She is a rogue-pirate who makes her reappearance in "Fools Rush In" at the Hanged Man. Her dealings with the Qun are interesting to say the least. She is very flirtatious and loves to tease others. Out of everyone, her in-game banter is the funniest. But her more feminine side is sad and she has a lot of inner turmoil. "Bethany"/"Carver" is various. If you are a mage, your sister dies but your brother lives. If you are, say, a rogue then the opposite occurs. Overall, Carver has a more defined story addition but neither really matter since you lose them for some time after the Deep Roads. So there isn't much to tell about them. "Merrill" is arguably my least favorite character makes her reappearance early on in DA2. She is a Danish Elf who does use blood magic on occasion. There are two or three quests specific to Merrill and you meet her when executing a task given to you by the Witch of the Waste, Flemeth (who is MUCH prettier in DA2 than in Origins!).
Overall, the characters are interesting and they develop and grow nicely through the prolonged time of DA2.
Cut Scenes (Both Clean as well as Sexual): 10/10
There are many cut scenes in the game which play important roles in the overall point of the game. Cut scenes are mostly used in this as important places and highlight interesting options. As strange as that sounded, basically...they are one of the best parts and what makes DA2 my second favorite game of all time.
The graphics are very nice. But what else would you expect of a PS3? On the PC, the graphics can be set to look more like the PS3's but even unadjusted, they are still very nice. The fluidity of the characters could be a bit improved but it isn't awful. Overall, they heighten the game more than cause problems.
The weapons are nice but I wouldn't say great. With how hard it is to level your character, if you don't put specific attributes is certain places, adding weaponry for some characters can be really hard. They weapons function effectively enough but I just wish they would ease up a bit. Then again, this could just be a person view compared to how it actually is.
There are so many abilities! That is my main thing when I first started the games. I was surprised at how much there was...and then I read into them and learned and pointless some of them were. I won't list any because everyone has their own preferences but there are some that are just not worth adapting--that's not to say that there aren't any amazing ones. There are some abilities that function wonderfully and can make/break a duel. The attribute system is much easier in DA2 than in Origins, in my opinion. Overall, there is more good than bad in this area.
Voice Overs: 10/10
I love them! The actors portray their characters well and some of them are familiar voices that many of us know and have come to love. This is one of the better voice acting-work I've seen. Each character is very distinct and they don't lump together. You know when you see Merrill you'll have a high-pitched panicking voice coming your way versus Isabella's expecting deep, seductive sarcasm. It's very nice to see the lines cut so neatly.
Character Banter (Background, specifically): 15/10
The score goes over for the banter. It is absolutely wonderful! You can find out so much about each character just from the banter or you can have fun little voices making jokes in the background as the time goes by. For instance, if you have Bethany and Isabella on your team, you can eventually hear them talking about Isabella and how she was once married. This is a fact that you don't really know for sure until the background banter. Another example of a more entertaining one is of Isabella and Fenris when Isabella speaks of how slavers sometimes covered the slaves in oil to make them glisten before asking if Fenris used to glisten. The result is strange, disturbing and truly a laugh-out-loud moment. The banter moments are completely worth stopping and listening to.
PC versus PS3: XX/XX
The PS3 version is very nice and I love it's controls much more than the PC--for the most part. The Abilities are easier to access in the PC version rather than the PS3 and it is easier to pause the game in the PC version. I'm not very fond of how the camera and attack units work on the PC at all. You use the right-click of the mouse to both move as well as attack. If you are a mage/archer, you can be attacking an enemy before suddenly running off to that area and into the midst of a fight. They should have had the movement on the left-click and the attack on the right. One of the better features is the loading time. The PC occasionally lags and stops responding on the loading screen but that's only for a few minutes and it isn't a problem with the game play. Meanwhile, the PS3 takes forever it seems to load from place to place! I hate waiting so, on that instance, I prefer the PC.
Overall, they both have their pros and cons. I prefer some things on the PS3 version in comparison to the PC. That's just how it goes. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. For those wondering what this review was about--it was simply my own little snippet on Dragon Age 2 and what I enjoy/do not enjoy about the game. :)
Best Story Line: Isabella
Best Quests: Fenris
Best Graphics: Varric
Best Weapons: Varric
Best Attributes/Abilities: Hawke (Warrior)
Best Banter: Isabella
Best Voice Over: TIE--Fenris/Isabella
Best Cut Scenes: Fenris
Best Romance (Male): Isabella
Best Romance (Female): Fenris
Best Sex Scene (Male:) Merrill
Best Sex Scene (Female): Anders
Best Line Final Act Line: Fenris
(All of the Best Categories are purely opinionated. They are by no means official and strictly my own views.)
on February 22, 2014
I debated buying this because of everything I'd heard about the game. It went on sale for $5 and I figured, why not. I went in knowing the common complaints about this game and with expectations set accordingly.
- So, yes, there are endlessly recycled dungeons. It's cheap and lazy -- I can understand having multiple quests in the same location to maximize reuse, but it would be nice if different cave systems had different layouts.
- I miss the camp system from DAO, where you could talk your companions as much as you wanted -- now each romance path has fairly few scenes and development before it jumps into the relationship.
- the battle system is faster and not as slow and tactical as DAO.
- not as epic or heroic as DAO -- in DAO I felt like I made an actual difference, in DA2 it felt like everything went to hell regardless of your choices
So, that's quite a list of cons. But I went into the game knowing all of these things in advance, and with the right expectations I managed to enjoy the game. I love Hawke's voice acting and personality development -- sarcastic Hawke is very fun to play. I loved Varric and Fenris, and the party banter was still as funny as DAO. I connected to my Hawke's struggles, even though they played out on a less epic scale. I think that Hawke having a more defined background and personality helped with the writing -- I like being able to pick a gender, and that's about as much self-insertion as I need. And I got used to the battle system and started enjoying the cross-class combos.
Ultimately, I play RPGs to experience a story and be immersed in another world, and DA2 managed to achieve that. Just lower your expectations and don't expect anything as good as DAO.
on December 18, 2014
This game is not only one of the most disappointing sequels ever made but a terrible RPG overall, to boot. It feels like a rush job EA ordered Bioware to put on the market to fill the void in their schedule before Mass Effect 3 came out. If you did not play the first Dragon Age game, you might think this is okay, at best. If you loved the first game, however, you’ll most likely find Dragon Age 2 an abomination worthy of being hunted down by Templars.
There is no continuation of any loose threads from the DA: Origins story other than a few characters making lame cameo appearances. This despite a cliffhanger ending where Morrigan (and possibly your Warden character, with her) disappear through a mirror portal to an unknown location. Instead of bothering with any of that stuff, Bioware thought you might enjoy playing the life of Hawke, a refugee who ends up in the city of Kirkwall and stays as far away from the plot of DAO as possible. So what does he do? Well…nothing, really. Just wanders around Kirkwall & its environs.
To give you something to compare this to, imagine that the second Lord of the Rings movie decided to take a break from all that heavy stuff about Frodo, the One Ring, Sauron, etc and instead followed the life of a guard in the village of Bree. That’s what Dragon Age 2 is like.
This is doubly disappointing since the story & characters in DA2 are completely uninteresting and silly. It’s like reading fan fiction. There are a few returning, minor characters from the first game who were pretty cool there but are ruined by Dragon Age 2’s dull-witted dialogue & stupid plot choices that cannot be changed no matter what.
The game tries to pretend like your choices make a difference but they don’t. At all. The first game explored a very complex relationship between Templars & mages. DA2 turns everything DAO spent telling you about this relationship on its head. DA2 wants to paint a portrait of Templars just being jerks while mages are poor victims who should be set free. Except that every time you side with a mage over a Templar, the mage decides to turn into an evil demon to gain more power, anyway. Which…is why the Templars are mean to them in the first place. Hm. This includes the head enchanter during the final part of the game. To me, that seems pretty conclusive proof that maybe the Templars are right. There isn’t anyone to root for and you end up killing pretty much everybody.
The atrocity doesn’t stop at the story & characters, unfortunately. Gameplay is broken as all you need to do is talent up the dwarf’s crossbow damage. I literally ran around spamming the attack button in every fight, including bosses. I barely even needed to heal myself except during a two or three of the toughest bosses. A huge letdown from DAO’s combat system that was very strategic (on PC, anyway) and required you to pay attention to what you were doing to beat many groups of enemies.
The most unforgivable sin this game makes, though, is that of its reused environments. It’s bad enough the story takes place over several decades, giving Bioware an excuse to drudge up the same old environment maps after a “10 year later” subtitle. However, they also reuse the exact same maps for supposedly different areas. One, in particular, is the “cave map” that appears whenever you go inside a cave dungeon. It’s not supposed to be the same cave every time, but IT IS the same cave. They don’t even do palette swaps or rearrange any items. The most they do will be to block off a section of the map or start you from the opposite end to try and make it feel fresh. Ditto for the “mansion map” and “underground map”. It’s the laziest thing I’ve ever seen in a game, especially for a AAA budget game.
To recap: uninteresting gameplay, terrible story, stupid characters, and walking again & again through literally the same maps for 30+ hours. If that sounds like fun, have at it. As far as I’m concerned, though, the Dragon Age franchise is dead well before its time.
on March 3, 2015
This is NOT the same kind of game as Dragon Age: Origins. Origins was a sprawling epic with a classic arc and a clear and defined "Hero" role with pretty easy-to-suss-out moral paths. Dragon Age 2 is less of the epic and more a study in the ripple effects of your character. You're the hero because it's YOUR story, not because there's some GREAT BIG BAD THAT MUST DEFEATED TO SAVE THE WORLD. The dialogue choices can be a little clunky (a lot of times the heading of the selection doesn't match the tone of the words that come out of your mouth), but the game is lovely to look at, your optional companions are as diverse a bunch as in Origins, and while the game play can be a little repetitive because of the limited number of locations to visit, the plot is WONDERFUL. This isn't usually my genre of game, but I got Origins for free and wound up hooked enough to buy the sequel...and I'm waiting with bated breath for Inquisition to stop being $60.
tl;dr? Not the same kind of story as Origins, but good characters, intriguing plot, pretty well worth $20.