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Dragon Age II back to reviews
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A Dangerous Balance
Being an obviously rushed and unfinished game, Dragon Age II nonetheless has a lot of things going for it. The action-oriented combat did feel much more engaged and involved than the first game to me, but that came at a certain price: because the pace of battle moved so much faster and because enemies spawn at random mid-battle, it's very difficult to reliably react or be prepared for anything, which was perhaps exacerbated by my decision to play as a melee Rogue, forcing me to do double duty between making sure I didn't die and dealing the highest damage in the party. Overall, this makes the game much less tactical and team-oriented than Origins, though there still is a degree of basic tactics you can use. Treading between hack and slash and traditional Bioware fare won't work long, and much like Hawke, Bioware probably should choose one for Inquisition.

The same could be said for the narrative, the game going back and forth on whether you should decide the outcome or whether you're railroaded in one direction for the purposes of better developed characters several times. Several times, the outcomes are predetermined, but at least you can decide why they're happening or why you as Hawke are involved if not what happens. Unfortunately, since Hawke is probably the closest thing to a character of all of Bioware's cyphers, there were a few times I didn't get options I wanted to be there (such as open support of the Qunari), but Hawke does bring an element of humanity lacking in other Bioware games as do the most important aspect: the companions.

I'll be brief: Varric is my new favorite Bioware character, Isabela's a close second, Aveline had her moments, I could take or leave Merril and Sebastian, and Fenris and Anders were equally tiresome, especially grating as they had almost the same personality, just as applied to different sides. They do feel like they have lives outside Hawke but only Varric, Isabela Aveline, and occasionally Anders ever sounded like they did anything particularly interesting while not with me. In terms of gameplay I applaud the new approval system and improved AI, but question the lack of customization as applies to companions. It both streamlines things and prevents us from building the best party we could.

This is a game walking between two extremes in most aspects. If you can deal with that, you'll enjoy it.

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