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Diamond in the Rough
All right, I'm going to hold up my flame shield here and say I liked Dragon Age II. Maybe even more than the original — at least from a creative standpoint. It's among Bio Ware's most deeply flawed games, but in many ways it's also one of the most experimental. While Origins was an intentional homage to traditional save-the-world Dungeons & Dragons PC games, DAII focuses instead on a group of friends dealing with the political, social and religious conflicts of one city. The story is less focused, but also more realistic. There isn't always a Main Bad Guy. The world's no longer being overrun by mindless hordes. Moral choices are more complex than "Be nice" or "Be an ass." Hawke isn't an invincible hero — merely a well-respected and accomplished individual with investments in local businesses and a measure of political clout. Likewise, your companions carry on their own lives when you're not with them, and with a cast of likeable and flawed supporting characters such as the well-meaning but spineless Viscount Dumar and the grim Arishok, the whole thing just feels more compelling, even as its quests and plotlines take longer to form and connect. There's a masterful sense of slow-building tension, and Kirkwall itself, with its bronze statues and graffiti, feels lived-in and real.

And there are flaws. Nearly all of them can be laid at the feet of the game's rushed development process. Caves and warehouses are reused time and again. The game freezes up with alarming regularity. Bits and pieces of the ending seem clumsy, and your choice in the central conflict has little bearing on where you go and who you end up fighting during the final few hours. Character quests sometimes occur out of order. For the most part, they're small problems that get more annoying as they become more readily apparent over time, and they could easily have been avoided if they'd been given another six months or so to finish the game.

All in all, however, it's impressive what they did manage to create, given the rush. We all remember Origins fondly, but it was hardly perfect. The story here is well-told, the characters are enjoyable, and the combat is more dynamic, with less of Origins' awkward shuffling for position.

It's a flawed game, but a fascinating one.
I'll just drop my line here and say that I agree with this review the most. It best paraphrases what I'm thinking, even while paradoxically being what many of these reviews said. I guess I'll skip right the about the only snark I have in me left.

At the end of the game...you kill damn near every person in front of you with lines. Orisino and Meredith never stood a chance without going completely batshit (a far cry from the well-composed, yet strangely militant views they presented), and when you think about it...maybe Anders had the right idea.

The ending, ultimately, made me only as for one thing.

Hero of Ferelden/Hawke Team-up next game?

We can dream.
comment #8253 ApollineAllura 23rd Jun 11
At least Hawke's a lot funnier than the Hero from the first game.
comment #8255 eveil 23rd Jun 11
I agree; I enjoy DAII more than Origins. Sure there are things I miss (such as the hurlock design; skeleton-like creatures aren't as terrifying and monsterous as something that looks like a corpse with sharp teeth), but overall I like the way it plays out.
comment #8263 LegalAssassin 24th Jun 11
I agree with you entirely. I'm glad I'm not the only one! :)
comment #8334 iamthecircle 28th Jun 11
You speak the truth.
comment #8421 McSomeguy 4th Jul 11
More or less my opnion too.
comment #8470 fakeangelbr 6th Jul 11
After playing DAO again, I'm starting to wonder why DAII is rated so much lower than DAO. Probably because most of Bioware's fanbase is made up of hardcore old-school rpg gamers. Anyone have a clue what the people who never even liked DAO are saying about this game?
comment #8471 eveil 6th Jul 11
Generally, people who aren't part of Bio Ware's Unpleasable Fanbase think DA 2 is a good game which could have benefited from additional development time. Especially when it came to level design and character development, both of which seemed very barebones.
comment #8478 CrimsonZephyr 7th Jul 11
After playing DAO again, I'm starting to wonder why DAII is rated so much lower than DAO. Probably because most of Bioware's fanbase is made up of hardcore old-school rpg gamers. Anyone have a clue what the people who never even liked DAO are saying about this game?

I'm guessing the people saying DAII is crap compared to the perfect masterpiece that was Origins ARE the same people who didn't like Origins — only back then (you know, three years ago, the good old days), it was Baldur's Gate II that was perfect and Origins that was crap in comparison. Just wait until Dragon Age III comes out; the same people will be grousing about how it's nowhere near as amazing as II.
comment #8683 gfrequency 16th Jul 11
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