Dragon Age II Review

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I've checked zabout half a dozen reviews now, and none of them have been below 8.5/10 (roughly speaking, several of them aren't on the number system).

I'm calling it, Dragon Age 2 is the Escapists new Halo.

Soviet Heavy:
Justin "Sir Pounce-a-lot" Clouse?

You've been playing with Anders too much.

Heh, maybe. I'm totally on board if Bioware makes the Adventures of Ser Pounce-a-lot, Barkspawn and Snug the Bronto.

Greg, thanks for getting me more hyped up about it. I want this game, but can't be bothered finishing the Fade in DA:O, and have plenty of assignments to do for University.... don't make me get DA2! :P

Geo Da Sponge:
I've checked zabout half a dozen reviews now, and none of them have been below 8.5/10 (roughly speaking, several of them aren't on the number system).

I'm calling it, Dragon Age 2 is the Escapists new Halo.

The German review over at Golem.com is pretty "meh, this is nice, it could have been better".

I love Golem.

Karacan:

Geo Da Sponge:
I've checked zabout half a dozen reviews now, and none of them have been below 8.5/10 (roughly speaking, several of them aren't on the number system).

I'm calling it, Dragon Age 2 is the Escapists new Halo.

The German review over at Golem.com is pretty "meh, this is nice, it could have been better".

I love Golem.

I wasn't suggesting negative reviews were literally impossible...

Anyway, if the worst review you can find is "it's nice, but it could be better" then that's not too bad.

The demo didn't convince me either. All areas I've seen so far looked bland.
And what's up with big bosomed colorful females with big swords? Is this a jRPG or what?

The marketing of the game didn't really do it for me either.

Don't get me wrong: I pre-ordered the game and look forward to it. But so far I'm a bit sceptical

the amount of flames this is getting is incredible, hopefully they patch out some of the more serious bugs like the import corrupting but man seems like it's an organised attack rather than just good old whining. still good to hear most reviewers like the game makes the waiting easier.

Am I the only one who didn't get anything out of this review at all? It's like Dragon Age 1, but with different combat... and it looks like... Dragon Age 1! And it has typical bioware-level writing!

I guess I'm just hard to please.

Geo Da Sponge:

Karacan:

Geo Da Sponge:
I've checked zabout half a dozen reviews now, and none of them have been below 8.5/10 (roughly speaking, several of them aren't on the number system).

I'm calling it, Dragon Age 2 is the Escapists new Halo.

The German review over at Golem.com is pretty "meh, this is nice, it could have been better".

I love Golem.

I wasn't suggesting negative reviews were literally impossible...

Anyway, if the worst review you can find is "it's nice, but it could be better" then that's not too bad.

That's my point. I don't think the game is bad. I will, at one point, own the game.

It's just not good enough to get me more excited than disappointed. :(

While other publishers might aim for a "meh"-result, I had pretty high hopes when DA2 was first announced - and I don't feel it delivers the (unrealistic, maybe) promise it initially made.

On the plus side, character import (for the world's background) from DA1 will maybe work by the time I decide to get the game.

My initial fears of how this game would turn out have been confirmed, and they seem to have gutted most of what I enjoyed from the first one. That, and my hero in Ferelden was a Dwarf Paladin, not some human yahoo. Guess I'll be grabbing this whenever it's suitably discounted on Steam.

Karacan:

That's my point. I don't think the game is bad. I will, at one point, own the game.

It's just not good enough to get me more excited than disappointed. :(

While other publishers might aim for a "meh"-result, I had pretty high hopes when DA2 was first announced - and I don't feel it delivers the (unrealistic, maybe) promise it initially made.

On the plus side, character import (for the world's background) from DA1 will maybe work by the time I decide to get the game.

Well that's fair enough. As for character importing it's kind of a pain in the arse that my two completed run throughs of Origins are on 360, but now I'm getting Dragon Age 2 for PC.

360.. broken...must.. play.. dragon age 2....

I agree pretty much with everyhting Baresark said on the first page and I'm feeling really sceptical about this game.

I'm especially sceptical due to the praise the graphics got. DA2 among the best looking games of this gen? Not even close. I'd say, even after playing the DA2 demo that DA:O looked much nicer overall and even had pretty good visuals at the time of it's launch.

Also what concerns me is the fact that in the demo, only the comedic answers are any good.

Somehow I'v lost all trust in this game even tho' I was totally hyped for it, when the Cinematic trailer hit the web a long time ago, and I can't honestly say what could bring that trust back.

Interesting I'll have to get it and see how bad the combat mechanics are, DA:O was unimpressive. I also hope they made the skill trees a bit deeper I hated how wonky it was.

animehermit: I don't mean to rain on your parade, but there is no such thing as an "unbiased review" . A review is bias, its completely subjective to the reviewer, what you want is a summery of the games parts, not any ACTUAL opinion.

Then let me substitute "balanced" for "biased", although I'm sure most understood what I meant; a review free of the glossy hyperbole bought-and-paid-for reviewers lavish on new titles. A balanced review that compliments what deserves complimented, and condemns the game's shortcomings. Dragon Age had plenty of the latter.

A genuine critique and not a PR-job.

As for any parade, I'm not the one throwing it, the Escapist is ;)

Damn this game looks so amazing. It's just the fact I live in Finland and we get the game three days later...WHOOOOOOO!!!! Seriously though I kinda grew tired of all the hate towards this game before it was even released. It seems most of those accusations were wrong.

And for the complaints about the demo. Of course it was sucky. You can't get a good picture from an RPG from the demo that was that short. Even though the demo jumped in time to show us a scene from Kirkwall. Another thing is with the convo wheel. I personally haven't had any problems with it in ME2. I knew exactly what I was going to say. And yes the wheel has fewer options than the old system but, the options in both were basically the same: the good answer, the bad answer, the neutral answer and ask more option. The convo wheel is better imo but it is a personal preference.

BioWare writing with combat that doesn't make me want to remove my teeth using a brick wall (like Origins) sounds excellent to me. Being centered on on a single city could probably make for some interesting social encounters rather than the "Hello, goodbye" of Origins. The city does look a bit empty though, which is a shame. Suppose it took too much power making the place crowded, but would be really nice if there's a varying number of people out and about depending on the day or what you've done (more people going out into the streets after you take care of a gang, for instance).

Looks to be improved in every area I disliked of Origins, though I'm a bit hesitant about the inventory. I kinda like equipping my teammates - though it works, this seems to be more main-character focused than Origins was after all.

I pre-ordered the Steam version which unlocked a bit late, a few minutes after midnight for some reason instead of 12:01 PST. Played for a a few hours last night and it was great fun.

At first I was disappointed that the opening portion is identical to the content of the demo, but I soon got over that with the excellent dialogue and voice acting and noticing some of tiny details that were different from the demo. It was also cool to play around with some of the perk trees that were locked in the demo. Here are a few first impressions:

BALANCE:
Excellent work by the Bioware devs on the gameplay balance - completely blown away by this. Nightmare mode kicks your ass! I died many times and since I only had a few hours I gave up and switched to Very Hard, which in DAO was a total joke. In DA2, Very Hard is also challenging and fun - died several times as well.

I noticed one strategy that seemed to work in both very hard and nightmare (at least if there were no enemy archers left) was after all the other characters died and only a mage remained, I could run around the enemies in circles while waiting for my cooldowns to expire and keep pausing once in a while to hit someone with a fireball, spirit bolt or winter's grasp.

Due to the complexity of micromanaging 4 characters at once, I think it would be practically impossible to do this with the rest of the party still alive without using tactics. It doesn't seem like it would be feasible to make a character run in a circle by highlighting destination points. (A big part of the fun for me is disabling all tactics and micromanaging every single action by every character, pausing each time.)

I hope we can expect this level of balance throughout the entire game. So far, it is perfect and I imagine it must be extremely difficult for devs to get just right, since I've played so few RPGs with good balance.

STORY:
I have only started the game, but so far I'm immensely enjoying the story of the "Champion of Kirkwall," and really weighing carefully even the tiniest decision, as I have no idea what will be important later on.

Great story hooks with the family on arriving in Kirkwall. Since I've already seen the sibling character croak many times while playing the demo, that part didn't have as much emotional impact, but no matter how many times I watch Flemeth and the FemHawke voice actress interact, they are both riveting performances.

TEXTURES:
I was also dazzled by the high res texture pack. Although it seemed that a few of the textures were not as high res as others, it was certainly vastly improved over the demo and some of the textures were incredibly detailed.

For example, you could see very faint freckles and detailed musculature on Avelline's chest that was not visible in the demo, some of the clothing and armor were much crisper than the demo, and this was all visible in the cutscenes as well. In general these textures seemed to be far beyond any "high res" textures included in the vanilla versions of DAO, FNV, FO3, or Oblivion on the highest detail settings.

The bronze statues on the mountains near Kirkwall and in the Gallows area were radiant and gorgeous, however, the texture of the rocks supporting the statues were not as impressive. The stone textures of the walls inside the Kirkwall gallows area were gorgeous, more striking than the best wall textures that I have seen of Oblivion HD texture mods, for example.

OVERALL GRAPHICS:
I was also impressed and surprised that I was able to play at a decent frame rate on my laptop at 1920x1080, all settings at Very High, SSAO, DX11, high res texture pack enabled, 4x AA, 4x Anisotropic filtering, high quality blur, Diffusion depth of field. Laptop Specs: Envy 15, i7-820QM, Dual Intel X18M G2 SSDs in Raid0, 16GB RAM, AMD 5830M video card overclocked to 540MHz core / 1100MHz memory.

With these settings, everything looked gorgeous projected on the wall from a 1080p projector, especially cutscenes with smoke, fire or something happening far off in the distance.the only area where the frame rate dropped a bit was the cutscene after Flemeth changes into human form where there is lots of fire on the ground, but even that seemed to be about the same fps or perhaps better than in the demo, and the demo did not have "Very High" detail settings available to select, or any high res textures.

Buldur's Gate 1+2 is still the pinnicle of RPG's and the reviewer knows not what they speak of. Obviously they've never played D&D table top and is stuck in the console generation (it was an X-Box review afterall).

I agree with Madkipz. What makes a truly awesome RPG is storyline AND micro-management. I miss the good old days when Black Isles was independent and before the stupid NWN ruleset.

DA:O was great for one play through, the second time was boring, not to mention being forced to sign up online and buy points to spend on additional content. I still break out BG1+2 and play that through and it never gets boring.

Oh but DA:O looks pretty! Jeeze what a selling point for an RPG.

It is such a shame that RPG's are being designed for the short-attention span console generation.

Dustpan:
Buldur's Gate 1+2 is still the pinnicle of RPG's and the reviewer knows not what they speak of. Obviously they've never played D&D table top and is stuck in the console generation (it was an X-Box review afterall).

Having played D&D 2 and 3.5 I really have to disagree with you. I don't think tabletop has ever been translated into a game well and I doubt it ever will. Baldur's Gate while a good game did have it's short comings and treating it like a masterpiece is pretty ridiculous.

Ok, but it is okay for the reviewer to treat DA:O2 as a MP when it falls flat on its face when it comes to micro-management.

WH40K RTS comes pretty dang close to a well converted table top -> video game. And I have been playing 40K and Fantasy for close to 20 years.

That is true, but 40K isn't an RPG. Strategy games are probably the easiest to convert from tabletop to video game. They have well defined rules that don't conflict with the medium. That being the PC, on consoles they tend to suck. And while I agree that playing a tabletop rpg-like game would be awesome. I think we have to be realistic in our views about how the times are changing. Look at the newest Final Fantasy for instance. You couldn't even control your characters in that game.

I can understand being disappointed, but the leap from good game to worst thing ever is a bit ridiculous. Having started playing DA2 I have to say I'm having a good time on Nightmare which is basically DA:O's hard. I'm having to pause quite a bit, more so when there are stealth characters and mages attacking.

Carne:

Dustpan:
Buldur's Gate 1+2 is still the pinnicle of RPG's and the reviewer knows not what they speak of. Obviously they've never played D&D table top and is stuck in the console generation (it was an X-Box review afterall).

Having played D&D 2 and 3.5 I really have to disagree with you. I don't think tabletop has ever been translated into a game well and I doubt it ever will. Baldur's Gate while a good game did have it's short comings and treating it like a masterpiece is pretty ridiculous.

Your opinion's in the minority. Baldur's Gate and Planescape:Torment are still considered by most to be the "top of the heap" as far as cRPG's go. Where those of us who loved those games (and Black Isle's offerings, like Icewind Dale) lament is the trend of Bioware towards more cutscenes and pretty graphics, and less gameplay mechanics, like extensive skill trees, classes, and a good inventory system.

Dragon Age (and probably it's sequel) is still far better than a lot of offerings out there. Maybe it's because, personally, I've come to expect a great deal out of Bioware, give their past performance and excellence. I do feel they're heading in a direction I don't like; give me gameplay over gloss.

As far as tabletop RPG versus cRPG, they're apples and oranges, and shouldn't be compared.

Am i right in thinking this is a more "Console Focused" game? How does the PC version stack up against the glorious PC version of Origins?

Dustpan:
Buldur's Gate 1+2 is still the pinnicle of RPG's and the reviewer knows not what they speak of. Obviously they've never played D&D table top and is stuck in the console generation (it was an X-Box review afterall).

That must have been another Greg Tito that's in our Classic B/X D&D campaign last night, runs two 4th edition D&D lunch time campaigns, has written about tabletop games in our Check for Traps column and has written for WoTC.

You might not agree with his review, but there is a long standing love for tabletop games across almost all the staff here.

PopcornAvenger:
Given that it's predecessor was far from "excellent", another glowing-with-the-hyperbole Escapist review to view with suspicion. This is becoming a trend that is leading me to try to find an unbiased site, if they exist.

Dragon Age is far, far from the "heir apparent to Baldur's Gate" they touted it to be. It now sounds like more of a fantasy clone of Mass Effect, with gameplay suffering at the expense of cutscenes and endless dialog trees that, thank you, no, does not impel me to play the game again and again just to hear a NPC say something different.

I suppose I'll know for sure if/when I find some level headed reviews -or even more certain, when I buy it at a discounted price (sometime) in the future when sales have died down.

sp basically you want to find a review that agrees with you? instead of people telling the truth that its a great game

Dustpan:

Oh but DA:O looks pretty! Jeeze what a selling point for an RPG.
.

umm one of the main criticisms of DA:O was its ppor graphics, the reason it got loads of good reviews is most likely because its just better than most RPG's

Karacan:

Give me back Baldur's Gate and PlaneScape Torment, damnit.

They haven't gone anywhere, you go back and see that those games just aren't as good by todays standards and leave the newer BETTER games for us

So I was thinking, is the dwarfs name Varric a refrence to the dwarf actor Warwick Davis?

Maybe Im just overthinking it.

P47R1CK:
Just lost what little respect I had for the Escapist Reviews.

Well surely you knew how good people think it is and how popular it is, why would you expect him to think any differant?

Macrobstar:

Karacan:

Give me back Baldur's Gate and PlaneScape Torment, damnit.

They haven't gone anywhere, you go back and see that those games just aren't as good by todays standards and leave the newer BETTER games for us

Well that's just false.
While I agree that modern games are great, no modern RPG has close to the depth, charm, or just plain awesomeness that the BG series has. And that's not nostalgia talking, I was playing BG not two days ago. It's just fantastic, balanced, crazy long, incredibly deep, and overwhelmingly memorable.

And I love my modern games.
Especially anything by Bioware.

The only thing the BG series might 'fail' at by today's standards is the graphics.
But I use the qualifier 'might', because, quite frankly, the graphics are fine in it.
Especially with the custom resolution MOD.

That all being said, I'm picking up DA2 tonight! Can't wait to play through it!
Loved DA1, and expect great story-telling in the sequel.

...But it's no Baldur's Gate.

Macrobstar:

PopcornAvenger:
Given that it's predecessor was far from "excellent", another glowing-with-the-hyperbole Escapist review to view with suspicion. This is becoming a trend that is leading me to try to find an unbiased site, if they exist.

Dragon Age is far, far from the "heir apparent to Baldur's Gate" they touted it to be. It now sounds like more of a fantasy clone of Mass Effect, with gameplay suffering at the expense of cutscenes and endless dialog trees that, thank you, no, does not impel me to play the game again and again just to hear a NPC say something different.

I suppose I'll know for sure if/when I find some level headed reviews -or even more certain, when I buy it at a discounted price (sometime) in the future when sales have died down.

sp basically you want to find a review that agrees with you? instead of people telling the truth that its a great game

No, I don't have and can't have a definitive opinion of DA2 - I haven't played it. The only impressions I have is the demo, and descriptions of the game itself from Bioware and reviewers. From what I've seen and read that impression is not great, and Bioware is heading in a direction which is leading it to cut out or skimp on the elements of the game I find most enjoyable. Dragon Age 1 was a big disappointment, and the elements that even Bioware is touting about it's sequel don't address the first game's shortcomings.

On the whole you find a lot more reviews about any new game that are little more than PR jobs designed to sell the title; it's the honest, rubber-meets-the-road ones that are rarer, and, to me, a gamer, more valuable.

The problem with many people opinions is they feel the need to justify their purchase and defend the games as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or they are in love with the title and unwilling to see it's problems (aka "fanbois"). I can't really listen to them or give their opinions much weight. It's from reviewers, who supposedly do this for a living, that I expect a little more professionalism and a frank critique of the game, its merits as well as it's shortcomings.

Macrobstar:

Dustpan:

Oh but DA:O looks pretty! Jeeze what a selling point for an RPG.
.

umm one of the main criticisms of DA:O was its ppor graphics, the reason it got loads of good reviews is most likely because its just better than most RPG's

DO:O2 - Typo - Sorry.

PopcornAvenger:

Carne:

Dustpan:
Buldur's Gate 1+2 is still the pinnicle of RPG's and the reviewer knows not what they speak of. Obviously they've never played D&D table top and is stuck in the console generation (it was an X-Box review afterall).

Having played D&D 2 and 3.5 I really have to disagree with you. I don't think tabletop has ever been translated into a game well and I doubt it ever will. Baldur's Gate while a good game did have it's short comings and treating it like a masterpiece is pretty ridiculous.

Your opinion's in the minority. Baldur's Gate and Planescape:Torment are still considered by most to be the "top of the heap" as far as cRPG's go. Where those of us who loved those games (and Black Isle's offerings, like Icewind Dale) lament is the trend of Bioware towards more cutscenes and pretty graphics, and less gameplay mechanics, like extensive skill trees, classes, and a good inventory system.

Dragon Age (and probably it's sequel) is still far better than a lot of offerings out there. Maybe it's because, personally, I've come to expect a great deal out of Bioware, give their past performance and excellence. I do feel they're heading in a direction I don't like; give me gameplay over gloss.

As far as tabletop RPG versus cRPG, they're apples and oranges, and shouldn't be compared.

I while agree with you that Bioware making a more traditional RPG would be awesome. I think that people are mistaking changes in the genre to get their games getting dumbed down. Let's face it, the PC market for games isn't nearly as good as it used to be. Consoles are dominating the market in a lot of ways and developers need to adapt or die off, something we've seen quite a bit recently.

I think that rather than bashing this game to hell for it's features people should actually bring up it's shortcomings. I play Bioware games for the interactive narrative, the mechanics are secondary.

I personally I think your responses have at least been more reasonable. As for people defending their purchase, I think the inverse is also there. If you read this thread it's fairly obvious that a lot of the people complaining don't know what they are talking about.

Slycne:
You might not agree with his review, but there is a long standing love for tabletop games across almost all the staff here.

I know, which is what makes it so much more upsetting.

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