Most helpful positive review
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Better than you've heard.
on 31 May 2013
This game has been out for some time and consequently has been reviewed extensively. Most of the flaws other people have mentioned are real and annoying, BUT there are many things which I think make this a terrific game, especially for female gamers. Many people will disagree with me I'm sure, but I'm going to write the review I'd like to have read when I was considering buying this game.
I'm a female gamer and I love RPGs. For me an RPG is something I like to bury myself in, like a great book where you get to see an aspect of yourself in the protagonist, make friends/build relationships, AND have a great story, fun levelling, killing monsters and looking cool in amazing gear. The problem with so many RPGs is that they get the last four things right and completely ignore the the first two. Dragon Age II does not do that. Red Dead Whatever might be the most amazing cowboy experience ever, but why do I have to play as a hairy-arsed bloke I can't relate to? For me that's not roleplaying, it's adventuring and the difference is important.
Dragon Age II allows you to build a female character (which should not be a rare optional extra) and the NPCs you collect for your team as you try to stop Kirkwall from imploding have well written if sometimes annoying personalities. Another aspect which really improves immersion for me is that my character actually speaks, instead of the mute staring person I controlled in DA Origins (which is also a fantastic RPG for female gamers - just a little more dated).
Now that I've tried to outline where I'm coming from, here's my list of pros and cons for anyone who has a similar attitude to RPGs.
1. You can play as a female protagonist.
2. Good voice acting, especially for Hawke. Lots of English accents with gravitas.
3. Immersive storyline, especially if you play as a mage. Although personally I felt the climax was the end of Act 2. Act 3 felt a bit (just a little bit) like a DLC they bundled in when they realised the main game was too short. (FO3:Broken Steel? - good but not as good as the main game).
4. Reasonably well written NPCs.
5. Your dialogue choices affect your personality (like ME's paragon/renegade system). My wisecracking Hawke had me in stitches on many occasions.
6. Dynamic and fluid combat (much improved from Origins)
7. Some, but not the best, replay value. I've had most fun with mages and rogues. Warriors are a bit dull in that they have no special talents (lockpicking, traps,etc) and do not have the same involvement in the story line as a mage.
1. Dungeon maps get reused relentlessly to the point where it's almost funny.
2. Loot is a joke (e.g. 'moth-eaten scarf' or from one of the DLCs, 'mouldy biscuit' - seriously?), a lot of the usable stuff is generic and when you collect it you can't see its attributes without opening the inventory. That gets old very fast.
3. Less sense of being an epic hero and more of a problem solver for people hell bent on fighting with each other. You're a referee who is forced to enter the fray basically.
4. You can only have conversations with your companions when you get a quest to go to their house to do so. Talk to them at any other time and you'll only get a stock phrase. No party camp like in DAO. I'm baffled as to how Bioware thought this was a good idea.
5. Invisible walls, doors that you can't open if you stand too close, minor stuff like that but ultimately this isn't trying to be a sandbox game.
6. No crafting, no smithing, no decorating your house, etc.
7. Silly gameplay which defies the laws of the game world. e.g. spawning waves of humanoid non-magical enemies (how?), teleporting mage enemies, etc.
In spite of all the criticisms, this game has given me several enjoyable play-throughs and in a few months time, I'll probably have another go. What keeps my interest is probably the emotional depth and my sense of involvement in the character I've created. The same reason I keep going back to the Mass Effect series.