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Dragon Age II back to reviews
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Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
As a sequel, this game adds some welcome and interesting changes to the DA setting, along with some pretty severe drawbacks. I found the story and pacing of the game to be overall superior to DA:O; while there is no large, overarching threat, there are a number of antagonists that are both colorful and well characterized that I found to be a welcome change from the faceless, voiceless monsters of Origins. The companions are also a bit more nuanced this time around— mainly due to the extended time period in which the game takes place. This leads to some noticable issues, however, and while its nice to see them develop more long-term relationships with the main character, it also tends to be a bit confusing that they'd take so long to bother getting to know each other. Not to mention that, after each of the time skips, a character is given the token phrase "Remember what happened X years ago? That sure was something," or, at least, something to that effect.

Combat is over-the-top and bloody, which hardly seems appropriate with the setting. Enemies bursting into chunky bits is something I'd expect to see in Team Fortress 2, not so much an RPG that takes itself seriously. It seems inevitable that boredom with combat sets in after your fifth or sixth time plowing through a dozen more angry gang members, not to mention trying to whittle down the health of one of the game's bosses. They tend to be immune to most negative effects, meaning most fights will consist of pouring on damage and healing party members, making it seem a bit like a mini-raid for (insert-mmo-here). That said, the final boss is a rather tense conflict that plays out very well, and when taken in smaller doses it is sometimes fun to squash bandits into paste.

In the end, however, what will ultimately make-or-break this game for most people is whether or not they're willing to put up with the liberties taken with the lore from the original. If you're like me, say, and describe that sort of thing as "Liberties" rather than "Total lore rape," then you'll probably like this game. If not, then we'll see what's to come in terms of DLC, Expansions, and patches.

And, in one final note: There are bugs. Not glaring, but they're there, and a few can be very disruptive. We can only hope they'll be fixed soon.
I definitely agree about the gore, especially considering that getting sliced in half with a greatsword or pulverized by a maul should not have the same effect as getting hit with a rocket launcher.

The fights dragged on for longer than the first game, and sometimes felt overly long, such as when I was whittling down the penultimate boss's three health bars. Still, that fight and the final confrontation were fun encounters.

The companions got more development over time, but on the other hand, they seemed more one-note in what they liked and disliked, especially the mages and Fenris. Dragon Age had some moments in which characters would react in ways that were not what you would expect, but not out of character (such as Oghren disapproving of killing Connor, or Alistair being surprisingly ruthless regarding accepting help from foes). Dragon Age II's characters tend to be steadfast in their convictions to the point of being hypocritical at times (Anders approves if you sell Fenris back into slavery, apparently despising him too much to see the similarity between Fenris' struggles and his own.)

Other than that, and my preference for the narrative in Origins (the Final Boss, the Archdemon, is the evil you've been preparing to fight since you became a Gray Warden, and it feels as though your choices have consequence), good review.
comment #13598 Valiona 1st Apr 12
I don't know why, but I really liked your title :D
comment #13603 Tomwithnonumbers 2nd Apr 12
I hate how so many bosses from rpgs are immune to so many of the negative status effects. It discourages you from using an entire playstyle, since half your repertoire is useless for them.

As an example, in Skyrim, being an Alchemist Dragon Slayer is boring as hell because Frenzy, Fear, and Paralysis are all useless against high level opponents, so you have to rely only on buff potions and damage health potions (Which, to be fair, are pretty damn useful if you don't mind menu browsing).
comment #13608 Scardoll 2nd Apr 12 (edited by: Scardoll)
I agree with what you say here. Personally I think what it is in particular is that the 'content' aspects like story(particularly the stories believability), characters, setting, fighting are all, on the whole at least, better in Dragon Age II.

However, the 'presentation' is a good deal worse, things like overly cartoon-gorey death animations, how blatantly obvious it is that there are only about 4 maps they designed, undermining the big choice you made ten minutes previously with some event, etc. etc. etc.

I had some problems myself with Dragon Age: Origins' content, combat was finicky, most non-party characters were rather one note, and while the Darkspawn are a great enemy, it is never explained why they are in the process of invading Denerem, but don't end up anywhere important while you wander around the kingdom doing odd jobs for people so they'll join with you. However the presentation of DA:O was really polished and spot on, I really only noticed some of the plot holes and weak characters because I took my time on the first playthrough and even so I was still pretty sucked into the story.

So, long story short, I very much agree that DAII definitely improved some things but had some glaring problems. It is my hope that when they do Dragon Age III that they will combined the more intricate and realistic content from DAII with the much more polished presentation from DA:O.
comment #13621 doorofnight 3rd Apr 12
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