Well first off the story and characters are the usual high standard we expect of Bioware. So no surprises there. Conflict doesn't come in the form of an obvious Big Bad
and in that respect succeeds in a more subtle build up to the tensions between Mages and Templars. Varric and Merrill were definitely the stand-outs for me personally but i was pleasantly surprised how much i liked the entire party as whole. The newly voiced protagonist lends itself to more engaging interactions, one particular argument with my sibling Carver had a level of emotion and intensity you just couldn't have with a silent list of replies.
Gameplay wise i enjoy the new combat, it looks great and underneath all the new flair is just origins without the awkward shuffling of feet. In particular mages being more balanced instead of unstoppable and opting to be an archer is much more rewarding this time out are very welcomed. The character models are much better, little things like better eyes, teeth and actual moving hair alongside the great animations work wonders. Kirkwall looks great with with hightown contrasting wonderfully with the shithole of lowtown and the misery of darktown. However outside of Kirkwall level design never reaches the same heights and looks decidedly poor in contrast.
It's greatest flaw for me lies in its limited environments. Easily two third of the game takes place in Kirkwall with the shameless reusing of the same three or so maps for sidemissions. Been to one mansion in hightown? Then get used to seeing it again and again. With no effort to cover up the fact it's identical to the dozen or so before it. Same color scheme, decoration and layout. It makes exploring a cavern constant deja vu and by the end of the game your tired of of seeing the same damn places with the odd door blocked off.
In my mind the game was undercut by its deadline of just under 18 months. It has alot to offer in terms of reply value but having to look at copy and paste environments all over again will likely mean a couple of playthroughs will be all most can handle. And what do you expect when you release a sequel so soon after Origins? A fall release along side Mass Effect 3 could have made so much difference and might have given this game the extra time to be more than it is.
Overall Dragon Age II
is a good game that many will enjoy despite its obvious drawbacks. 7.5/10