135 of 155 people found the following review helpful
They Fixed Everything... That Was Never Broken,
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This review is from: Dragon Age 2 - Playstation 3 (Video Game)
My girlfriend and I were huge fans of DA: O. We played through each class and race from beginning to end so it was only natural to anticipate part two with baited breath. After all, Bioware games almost never take a step backward, but it seems there's a first time for everything!
If you've played Mass Effect 2, you will quickly see where they were trying to go with DA2. Tried but failed. Mass Effect 2 was a fantastic game. Similarly, DA: O was a great game that didn't need to be "fixed" in order to be more like Mass Effect! If they'd only built upon the original game's rock solid foundation, this could have been a spectacular follow up. So what went wrong you ask?
DA: O gripped us from the very onset with the different origin stories, an epic plot, and fascinating characters. It kept the overarching mission clear throughout while offering tons of diversions. Decisions felt like they mattered. Side with the werewolves or Dalish? That's who helps in the final battle. DA2 on the other hand had a decent plot, but even when I could keep track of it, it never swept me away. While on the surface decisions seemed to matter, in the end it felt very linear. The story ultimately seemed like little more than a device to move the game along from one quest to the next.
Never thought I'd be writing this about a Bioware game, but the companions in DA2 are straight up boring and of all the ones to bring over from DA: O they chose Anders from Awakening? While some of the inter-party dialogue was amusing, it didn't have me laughing like DA: O. Dog is an activated power and not a companion. The relationship building system was kind of interesting. If you're nice you build friendships and if you're not, rivalries. Both can have benefits. They added in a third "in-between" option of being clever -- something I'd not be surprised if they added into Mass Effect III coming out at the end of the year. Once you get 100% friendship or rivalry it locks in for the rest of game, whereas in DA:O relationships could keep changing right up until the end.
Combat has been sped way up to be less tactical and more hack n slash. Half the time I couldn't even tell what all was going on within the menagerie of power effects and blood splattering everywhere. As they said in Anchorman, "Loud Noises!" It's widely held that PC gamers got the better combat experience in DA: O, but I really enjoyed combat on the PS3. DA2 is supposed to be much more "console friendly". If that by that they mean a button mash then job well done. Setting up tactics for the NPCs is still there, but again the turbo speed of combat never lets you appreciate your decisions because of the rain of arrows / exploding magic / blood splashing / swiping blades / chaotic blur on the battlefield.
Equipment has been vastly simplified in a very unsatisfying way. First of all, only Hawke can be fully customized. All the other companions have a single "armor item" that can receive upgrades. Boring upgrades like "under quilting". (Oh, mighty! No rash. Sweet.) The equipment artwork on the character screens is minimal to the point of being dis-interesting. The items are often named things like "ring". Ring can have wildly different stats but it's still called ring. Many items are "Hawke only" (because only his armor can be customized), and limited by stat requirements so you'll get tons of cool gear that you have to sell. In DA: O there was always someone that could wear the cool new item.
Much like the rest of DA2, the interface has been simplified too, from merchants to the skill trees. Much like other attempts to fix something, they seem to have broken it in the process. They split buying and selling into separate screens and each skill tree onto its own screen. The net effect of which is that I couldn't get a high level view of either. While the interface in DA: O had it flaws, overall it was more informative and useful.
Bottom line: Don't fix what ain't broke! So why did I give DA2 3 stars? It's really not a terrible game. If I'd never played DA:O I may even have even liked it, but compared to its predecessor it's a watered down pale comparison.
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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 15, 2011 12:01:38 PM PDT
Totally agree about the combat, tactics, and armor upgrades. The first I saw "Hawk only" I wanted to cry. If I want a mage to wear a helmet that's my choice bioware!!
Posted on Mar 28, 2011 12:56:47 PM PDT
I agree with just about everything you said here.
Posted on Mar 31, 2011 6:44:45 PM PDT
Fat Old Sun says:
I disagree with just about everything that was said here...
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2011 8:43:13 PM PDT
Matthew Arieta says:
I knew when I wrote this review there'd be people that totally couldn't level with it. There are those that like all the changes, I'm just not one of them.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2011 10:43:57 AM PDT
I agree with you - it wasn't broken! My fiance is finishing his playthrough of DA2, and I still find myself so disappointed that Bioware tried to fix DAO. The only thing I really wanted from DA2 was a freer world, like being able to walk into towns and explore the countryside (I know, more typically a Bethesda quality). Otherwise, DAO set up a spectacular formula IMHO for a franchise.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2011 1:03:21 PM PDT
This review seems biased. Although origins fans may find displeasure with the sequel, there are those out there that may have never played origins and decide to pick up dragon age 2. I find that if you forget dragon age origins and play dragon age 2 for what it is, you'll find it satisfying. Sure sure, da2 might be different and changed, but this isn't an origins vs. part 2 review, its a dragon age 2 review and should be described as such.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2011 9:32:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2012 8:24:31 PM PST
It's a sequel. It's common sense that it's compared to its predecessor. If it weren't part of a series, it would be judged as a standalone game. (Check out book reviews especially... take a shot for every time you see "not as good as the previous book in the series.")
Besides that, it's perfectly valid to review something using comparisons. If DA2's story/mechanics/characters aren't as good as DAO's, what's wrong in saying so? Is "DA2's skill tree system is confusing" really much better than "DA2's skill tree system is confusing... In comparison, DAO had a much simpler system that would have worked for this game, too"? The comparison is a useful point of reference for most customers purchasing this game, who have likely already played the first installment or plan to.
And by the way, all reviews are biased. We are people, not robots, and opinions are subjective. Criticism, by nature, is not objective and thus is biased.
Edit, re: next comment:
Fat Old Sun, I think you failed a reading check. ;) The reviewer is Matthew, and I'm just a commenter. Learn to read, please. :)
And to your point, "bias" has become the typical red herring that many immature individuals use to end arguments.
For example, A: "I didn't enjoy this game." B: "You're biased." The end.
The truth is, someone who throws out the "bias" argument doesn't want to open himself to a different perspective but just wants to agree with opinions mirroring his own and dismiss any that are different by using this convenient little phrase. I'll try to explain this to you, for what it's worth, but this CBS commentary on political opinion probably explains it better: "Every person's perspective is relative, determined by history, conditioning, social context, biology and scores of other influences. When someone clings to this insight, when they think it explains everything, man, we call them sophomoric. Most people who are interested in news and ideas, at some point realize that everyone - even themselves - is biased. To be a human who makes judgments and uses words is to be a biased person. Objectivity is a goal of many human activities but not an achievable and sustainable description of any individual's reality." (It's a nifty little piece, actually: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500159_162-67
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2011 3:21:08 AM PDT
Fat Old Sun says:
Posted on Apr 28, 2011 4:39:44 AM PDT
Ted Riggs says:
This is really disappointing. I recently finished DA: O and all of the expansions and would LOVE to play more. Truly one of the best experiences of my life. But from what I've heard and read I feel like I should pass on DA 2. =/