on 27 August 2011
I have never been as disappointed by a video game as I was by Dragon Age 2. It's not that it's a terrible game (I'd say it's slightly below average). Rather the problem is that it's considerably worse than Dragon Age Origins in almost every respect.
Almost all of this game's faults come down to two factors. Firstly it seems incredibly rushed, as though Bioware have shipped a half finished game to cash in on the first game's success. Dragon Age Origins took five years to make, and it showed. The sequel took less than two years, and it plays like the developers just couldn't be bothered to make a better game. Secondly there have been numerous changes to try and appeal to those who didn't like the first game, but in doing so most of the things that made the original great have been lost. This means that gamers who didn't enjoy the first game might enjoy this, but anyone like me who loved Origins will feel really let down.
Dragon Age 2 is just under half the length of Origins. While this is still longer than some other games on the market the game is also much more repetitive than the first. The whole game takes place in one city and a few outlying areas. This would be OK if the city was interesting or changed over time, but it doesn't. The same people are standing in the same places years later, often saying exactly what they were years ago.The repetition is made even worse by the fact that maps are re-used again and again. One cave, one tunnel and one coast map are just recycled over and over. While previous games like Mass Effect and Origins re-used maps a little bit, I have never seen it done on such a scale as it was in this game.
The combat has also been changed to make it faster but less tactical. For the first few hours of this game I actually preferred the changes but over time it soon became dull. There are less spell combinations in this game, less abilities generally, and less variety in how enemies fight. Also you now have to constantly press the A button to attack instead of just needing to do it once. All of this I could live with if it weren't for the constantly spawning waves of enemies. When you kill some enemies, a fresh wave will just magically appear out of thin air to surround you. This makes tactical positioning of your party pointless.
Visually the game also looks at its worst in combat. Although Origins was certainly no oil painting, its combat at least looked better than in this game. Some of the animations make this game look more like a cartoonish Japanese RPG than a Western one. This would not be a problem in a new series, but why change from one game to its sequel? If gamers want a Final Fantasy game they can buy one. I bought this game as I wanted a game that would be similar to the first Dragon Age. Petite characters like Fenris swing gigantic swords with ease, while enemies explode in a spray of gore even when stabbed with a dagger.
The appearance of several major races like the elves and Qunari has also been completely altered. It's not that they now look bad; it just further serves to make the game feel unnecessarily different to the first. Weirdly the game is also set in an almost squeaky clean sci-fi like setting, even though it is meant to be a medieval fantasy.
The poor combat and graphics could have been forgiven if the game had a good plot and interesting characters, the things Bioware are famous for. It lacks either. The writing is the weakest I have ever seen in a Bioware game. At their best the main quests feel like they could be side quests in Origins, while the majority are just MMO style fetch quests that it's hard to care about.
Personally the most appealing feature of Origins and other Bioware games is the chance to make choices that alter the game world as you play through it. Dragon Age 2 gives the illusion of choice, but usually your decisions have little effect on the game. You can side with a faction throughout the game but you will still be offered the same choice to support or oppose them later on, making all previous decisions meaningless.
The characters in this game are also inferior to those in Origins. Varric is at least funny, Merrill has excellent voice acting and Isabella has her moments, but none of them has as much personality as the characters in the first game. Some of the games best moments come when Origins characters make cameos, which highlights the decline in this game's companions.
The best part of this game is the background dialogue between your party. Even if your interactions with companions are a bit lacking the way they chat to each other can be genuinely amusing. I ended up choosing my party based not on their combat abilities but on who I would rather listen to, and this feature of the game is probably the only thing that kept me going to the end. The only other positive I can think of is that your character has homosexual and well as heterosexual romance options, showing that Bioware are still one of the most progressive game makers.
In this game you now have a fully voiced character, which would be a step forward if the dialogue wasn't significantly worse. Bioware have borrowed a version of the Mass Effect dialogue wheel but it simply doesn't work in this game. Instead of getting to choose what you say you now have to choose a symbol and a few words which rarely represent what you will actually say. You can choose to 'decline quest' and end up badly insulting the quest giver.
One innovation in this game is that if you frequently choose good or evil dialogue options your character's voice will actually become more aggressive or friendly for all other dialogue. This doesn't really work in this game as the choices are usually about choosing a faction to support rather than being good or bad, but I would really like to see this feature used in Mass Effect 3 where it would work with the Paragon/Renegade system.
While I could continue listing this game's failings all day I think this is a fair summary of some of the biggest ones. If you didn't enjoy the first game and want a passable action game with some amusing background dialogue you could try this game, otherwise you are much better off just sticking with Origins.
on 19 May 2011
First of all, I did enjoy playing Dragon Age 2. The game does indeed have it's good points. These include:
The voice acting is brilliant.
In places the story was quite emotional.
Combat was faster.
Graphics were an improvement.
But Dragon Age 2, has it's bad points as well:
The bugs, especially the import bugs.
Exploding enemies were too much. The kill blows in Origins were far better.
The streamlining of the inventory system.
Companions not as memorable as those in Dragon Age Origins.
Not being able to change companions armour was a dissappoinment. For example I have all these different types of armour that my rogue and companion's can't use.
A clear overuse of recycled environments. It got tiresome going to the same areas; again and again.
Enemies spawning out of thin air
No auto attack on the Xbox 360. You can imagine how awesome it is to press the attack button over and over.
The Elf design is horrid.
Lack of choice in the race you can play.
Bioware, it can be argued took the wrong design path with DA 2. Instead of improving the brilliant Dragon Age Origins. The developers decided to make Dragon Age 2 more like the Mass Effect games. This was clearly a mistake and as a result, I felt that I was playing a Dragon Age version of Mass Effect.
Thus, Dragon Age 2 is a disappointment and I have little desire to replay, this game. I would advise renting this game, before purchasing.
on 3 April 2011
I played through this game and was very disappointed - in fact I have since traded it in. I had high hopes for this game but its a let down in every department compared to Dragon Age Origins. You might say its pointless comparing it to the first game, but its a sequel, therefore its always going to be compared to the original - especially when its inferior!
The gameplay really suffers from the same type of quest, time and time again, in the same locations time and time again. The lack of a decent storyline, any character development is a massive let down. You basically turn up at Kirkwall, have to make a name for yourself by beating up a few people on some pretty meaningless quests, you end up in the middle of a civil war between the mages and templars, there's barely a reference to the original game other than the odd mention of Alistar, and Zeveran showing up towards the end of the game.
The truth of the matter is that the only thing thats improved from Origins is the graphics which you would expect, the rest is a shadow its former self.
If this hadn't been called Dragon Age 2 this game might have passed as a respectable title, the fact that claims to be a sequel to one of the best RPGs out there and fails in almost every department means its hardly worth 3 stars.
on 27 July 2011
After putting nearly 30 hours into this game, I can honestly say that i am bitterly dissapointed with the sequel to one of my all-time favorite rpgs ever.
Now, the story is a bit "meh" in comparisson to Origins, and it pretty much involves a fixed-path with a few bits of freedom, but even those small parts feel a bit linear for my liking, as you are always going to the same place for the same type of quest and the places look exactly the same. when you do this for hours and hours you begin to see how similar and repetitive the quests actually are. and the main storyline only picks up at the very end to be perfectly honest with you, where you get to see a inevitable confrontation between two main parts of dragon age history. But even then, it doesnt feel "amazing" and instead it just feels "good".
The graphics are much better than Origins, but that doesn't really mean much as the games have 2 years between them, and it is now a standard for games to look good. But if you are into pretty games, then here you go.
The game-play....yeah, i'm not gonna lie to you, the game-play is repetitive and it feels more like a button-mashing game. Some might say the actual controls feel more fluid, but i for one preferred the game-play of origins. also, forget the idea of choosing dialogue and lying and persuading and such, as now, we have the Mass effect-styled choices, which can really get on peoples nerves, especially long-time fans like myself. if i had wanted a game like mass effect, i would of just got mass effect.
Overall, i'd say that this game would of been good to get, if it had not been called dragon age 2, but seeing as it is, id only suggest buying this when the price drops, as it is a disspointing sequel, but you will want to play it just for dragon age 3, when it is inevitably going to be released.
on 22 March 2011
First off, let me say that I am one of those die-hard fans of Dragon Age: Origins and, like the rest, I expected the second game to be on the same level, even if the producers decided not to continue the story of the original character, which was a letdown for many.
The first Dragon Age was one of those experiences you never forget, like a fantastic movie, but with much more personal involvement, since you get to model the fictional world according to your preferences. That game could hold you "trapped" in its magical world for hours on end, keeping you anxiously waiting for what will happen next. You would live through your character, laugh or cry with him/her and the rest of the companions.
That being said, Dragon Age II is nothing like its predecessor. At times, I felt sure I was playing a not so good DLC rather than a sequel. The general feeling I got from the game is that it was done in a BIG hurry. Which was to be expected, since the time of production was worryingly short for a Bioware game. But it's not just the short production time... I feel that this game has EA written all over it. It was made for fast profit, despite letting down so many fans. There are people out there who have been playing Bioware games since they first appeared. For them, this game is a very low blow.
In my opinion, Dragon Age II brings very few improvements upon the original. Since Origins was one of the biggest hits in RPG history, maybe the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle should have been applied for the sequel. In terms of story, which is Bioware's strong point, the game mostly feels like a chore, like a rush through tedious obstacles in order to get to the "good part". For me, that part never really came.
The environment is perhaps the worst part of the game. The entire action takes place in one city (which feels smaller and smaller after running on errands for a couple of hours) and the surrounding area (also very limited). But that's not the worst part. You get to run around in the same caves and mansions over and over and not because you revisit old places, but because the "new" places are actually old ones copied and pasted. Yes, recycled maps, what JOY!
The characters are... interesting. The voice acting is amazing, but their personalities are very unilateral. X is totally against this, Y is totally for that, Z is completely obsessed with that... It gets boring and frustrating. Plus, you can't communicate with them whenever you want, like in Origins, but only at specific times, when the game tells you that you can. I love Mass Effect, but the dialogue wheel had no place in the Dragon Age world. And the fact that the main character is voiced doesn't make up for that.
I can't say much about the graphics, because I don't really care about that in a game, I much prefer a deep and engaging story. Some say it looks better than Origins, I say that the redesigning of certain races is not only bad looking, but also a bit of a disappointment. You can't create a universe that everyone knows and loves and completely change it in the sequel, because you think it looks cooler. What's up with that? Apples look like oranges now?
The combat is interesting, but I think they went from one extreme to the other. In Origins, combat was slow-paced and very tactical, in Dragon Age II it's ninja-style. You literally glide towards your chosen target and whack it with lightning speed. Also, you never really know how many guys you're fighting, since, when you think you've killed them all, a new batch falls LITERALLY from the sky (or, at times, magically appears behind you).
The inventory and leveling were completely redone and simplified. Well, simpler is not necessarily better. While the leveling feels somewhat better, since you don't have to go through numerous abilities you don't want in order to get to the ones you do, the inventory is awful. You get a new category of "junk" which is literally that, JUNK. You can only sell it (for very little coin, as well). The rings, belts and amulets have generic names, except for very few. You can't dress your companions, which is kinda cool, because their clothes are part of who they are, but that means that every single piece of armor you find that is outside of your class is useless.
To sum up this very long and incoherent review, I have to say that Dragon Age II is kind of bleah. It's an ok game with some interesting parts, but for Bioware's standards it's a joke. It's boring at times, repetitive, linear and you often feel like you have no idea what you are doing there, why you became a champion, what your ultimate goal actually is. You can't really relate to the other characters, since you get scheduled times with them, the NPCs are pretty bland, the quests all feel the same and nothing ever seems to change until the very end. It sometimes reminds me of MMOs where your goal is to do some identical missions in order to level up.
I was and still am very disappointed and I doubt I'll give it another go (I replayed Origins until my fingers bled). Some may like it, some do like it, but it's not my cup of tea. I had high hopes for this game and now I'm terribly worried about Mass Effect 3 and the future of this company in general.
on 24 March 2011
Like most reviewers, I found DA: Origins to be a great game - even with the below par graphics. However you want to describe DA 2, whether as a proper sequel, a spin-off or a game in its own right, its pretty average. Disappointingly so.
The combat has been tweaked so much that it nearly becomes a non issue. Aim for the nearest enemy, hit the relevant buttons and then move to the next. I've seen other reviews suggest not levelling up as a solution which sort of takes away part of the essence of an RPG. Its moved more towards a button masher and away from any tactical battle. This said, I found Origins fairly similiar from half way through the game as most foes dropped easily.
The game is pretty much in one city which makes it feel even more linear than it already is. Most the time I had no idea what the actual story was supposed to be or what/who my character was or aspired to or what was the ultimate goal I was striving towards.
The characters themselves lack any depth or paticular interest, conversations are significantly limited and it soon becomes annoying that you must go to their home location before they will converse with you despite being in your party at the time.
Gear is fairly pointless, I usually ran around opening chests and looting corpses with very little attention paid to what I was receiving. Only looking at my bags every half hour or so to see if there was anything worth upgrading to. The star system seemed good at first but when it started to give 2 stars for one item and 5 for another that was exactly the same it soon became another annoyance.
Possibly one of the worst things about the game is the quests. Run around to the quest marker, get the quest, go to the quest target, complete, return for reward. Thats about it, every time. No need to hear what the quest is or search around for what you need to do. The quest is laid out for you with every waypoint, area or location pointed out for you. Simply go anywhere that has a quest marker, kill everything and you can knock another thing off your quest list.
The re-using of maps for warehouses, housing etc is simply an embarassment to Bioware/EA. That they could think this was a good way to develop a game and would not receive criticism is hard to believe.
Ultimately, they've moved away from everything that made Origins good in order to chase the money signs. Somewhat expected of EA these days but I had grown to expect better of Bioware after a long line of quality games. Mass Effect 2 gave the warning signs, DA2 has just emphasised them and leaves me with a great deal of concern as to where the market is going.
on 25 December 2012
I enjoyed the story in this game but I found the action to be too repetitive to recommend it. The fight with the dragon in the pit was just one long painful slog for me.
I loved the first game (Dragon Age Origin) so much that I had it on Xbox and then later on PS3 when I changed consoles. I bought this game when it came out hoping for more of the same with a new storyline. However, the gameplay couldn't be more different. This game is purely a hack-n-slash, where you are just swamped by enemies who fall from the sky during the fight so you can't strategically position your team.
If you like hack-n-slash then this may suit you and the story is enjoyable.
I'd you liked Origin, then don't expect this game to be similar.
on 5 September 2014
By this time you probably already read everywhere that this game is worse than DA:Origins. Now, while the game was clearly rushed and has some obvious flaws (constant recycling of scenarios and enemies randomly spawning behind you being the worst ones, in my opinion), I think many Origins fans have been unfair. There are some improvements that make DA2 a fun game. For example:
- Combat improvement: more tactic slots. This allows you to pre-program your companions' strategy before the combats more efficiently, so you don't have to control them constantly during the actual fight. This improves the combat speed significantly.
- Better graphics.
- More efficient inventory management. For example: items that don't influence the action or plot will automatically go to "junk", so you know from the very first moment that you can sell them without any problems. Because of this and some other reasons (no traps, for example, which I didn't like in Origins in the first place), managing the inventory doesn't steal so much gameplay time.
- Your character has a voice.
- Combat improvement: cross-class combos. This adds a new and fun element to the combat strategy.
- A more original story: while the narrative in this game was rather clumsy (especially in the third act), we have to admit that the world-saving hero story is getting a bit repetitive. Here you play the rise of a family from poor refugees to the richest and most important people of the city. It's a refreshing change.
- Companions have a "rivalry" bonus. So the game mechanics don't force you to be friends with all of them, as it happened in Origins (I mean, you could argue with them, but the game would "punish" you by losing bonuses or making them leave). Here you can challenge their opinions and still get a combat bonus in the end. It makes the interaction with them much more interesting.
- Combat improvements: mages are not as OP as they were in Origins.
Overall, this game is really different from Origins, and I think that change can impact a lot. It's shorter, yes, and the fact that you play all the game through pretty much the same maps clearly shows that it was rushed. But it's not such a bad game as some people are saying. I personally enjoyed it a lot.
on 14 February 2014
I played Origins and that was amazing. No. 2 you would have thought would have followed on. The fact is it does a little and you only really hear briefly about your choice in origins.
You play as Hawke (who can either be a rogue, warrior, or mage), who starts off escaping from The Blight from her town Lothering, which if you spotted in Origins got decimated and you could no longer visit there. Your family decide to go to Kirkwall which is where practically the whole game will take place with a few exceptions where you go out of the city. You face a constant battle between keeping either the Mages or Templars in kirkwall happy (I myself always side with the Mages)
Again like in Origins you gain a party with respective classes (warrior, rogue, mage), sadly you cannot interact with them like you did in Origins which is something I really miss, especially when you have your love interest in your party.
The combat is more action based with you having to press the A button all the time to attack an opponent. The radial menu in the bottom right is much smaller and I would have liked that to be like it was in Origins so you easily tell what it was you were using.
Shopping is a necessity as your equipment that was good at one part of the game will eventually worsen as the game goes on, so it's important to keep in touch with the shops.
The continuing story and shaky balance between the Mages and Templars keep you most certainly interested. Only main hindrance is the continued use of the same map over and over again. Despite this it's still 5/5
on 20 April 2011
I was'nt the biggest fan of Dragon Age Origins, Purely because I had just put down Mass Effect 1 (after my 5th playthrough) and DA:O felt like a step backwards. Saying that, at least DA:O was an rpg, DA2 is so simple it feels like a childs game let alone an 18 rated mature adventure game. The only fun to be had here is trying to hit on as many female characters as possible and even then it fails to deliver.
Fans will recall a similar dumbing down in Mass Effect 2 (the first one published by EA). DA2 does an incredible job of making an "open city" full of quests feel infantile and linear, almost like a poor MMO where you just run around flagging NPC's with big markers above their heads then zoning and killing a mob or 2. There is literally one city to explore and a bit of outer map so for your £40 you dont get a lot. If there was a big world map you could explore with at least another city state then there may have been hope but as-is it sucks.
All in all this is a poor effort, I recall watching an interview with the lead designer and him saying the team worked really hard on the new art style which is fine but it seems at the detrement of the game itself. Avoid if possible.
EA need to stop turning their mature games into childish romps, First Dead Space 2, now DA2 (Mass Effect looks like it got off light compared with these 2)