Dragon Age II Review

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Macrobstar:
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

I have been going back to P:T, and still I see that it's writing, story, dialogs, setting and atmosphere made it the work of art (BTW, google "planescape torment work of art"), unsurpassed by any RPG that came after it.

I'd have to admit I'm biased in regard to the interactive narrative. The problem with cRPG's is their replayability, and that's a huge factor, for me, in whether I consider a game a worthwhile purchase. I just won't replay a game to see where a different dialog branch will lead me anymore, because in the end I know I'll arrive at the game's linear conclusion regardless.

It's the mechanics - the number of classes, skills/perks/feats, spell variety, loot variety, the inventory system, micromanagement, a good, exciting combat system - that directly affect it's replayability. For me. The graphics, story, and cutscenes are important, yes - on the first playthrough. After that, it's all about *gameplay*.

I played ME multiple times for the classes it offered. As for the dialog? On the replays I hit the return or escape button to fast-forward through it, because I'd already been there, done that.

Believe me, I *wanted* to love Dragon Age 1. I still greatly respect Bioware. In the end I just couldn't. From what I've read of DA2, they didn't address the problems and lack of content (again, mechanics & gameplay) of the first game.

It's my hope that my impression of DA2 is proven completely wrong (when I eventually buy it). From what I've read, and seen of the demo, however, I fear I won't be.

xqtr:

Macrobstar:
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

I have been going back to P:T, and still I see that it's writing, story, dialogs, setting and atmosphere made it the work of art (BTW, google "planescape torment work of art"), unsurpassed by any RPG that came after it.

Wow, because it totally doesn't look like every other CRPG

DracoSuave:

Just because it's a consensus doesn't change the fact it's a consensus of idiots.

I didn't say anything about customization. Are you projecting, or...?

I played the demo. I didn't like it. I don't know what more you can ask of me.

all of this nostalgia fueled hate is really annoying, i'm not denying that the BG series is a great game, but if they made a game with the same EXACT mechanics it would feel incredibly dated. It's impossible for most of you to see past the nostalgia. Ever been been new to older game and not see why everyone likes it so much? that happened to me when i played BG, I understand why everyone thinks its great, but the game hasn't aged all that gracefully. That was my big issues with DA:O, the "silent protagonist" really killed my immersion, it didn't feel like i was playing a character so much. it was a minor annoyance but one nonetheless. It wasn't game-breaking, but were not in 1998 anymore, i expected a fully voiced character. this whole "THINGS WERE SO MUCH BETTER IN THE PAST!!!" is BS, games were not any better in the past then they are today, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

I like where Bioware is taking RPGs, I think it can add a lot of depth to other genres by mixing them with RPGs, ME2 is a third person shooter with rpg mechanics and an emphasis on storytelling and characters. Which is why i got into RPGs in the first place.

Azaraxzealot:
you WANT games to go back to the days of Ninja Gaiden and Battle Toads?

I didn't say anything about difficulty. I am not even being hyperbolic when I say I just kept pressing the R button (auto-attack) and I got half way through the demo. The only strategy was when my finger cramped up and I decided to switch hands.

Seriously, try it yourselves. It works.

Ha, that was really funny.

When do we get a real review?

The praise is a little over the top here.
No criticism at all?

Thoric485:

Thoric485:
Ha, that was really funny.

When do we get a real review?

I wish this site had a reputation system, because I would give you two all of it

Talcon:

Azaraxzealot:
you WANT games to go back to the days of Ninja Gaiden and Battle Toads?

I didn't say anything about difficulty. I am not even being hyperbolic when I say I just kept pressing the R button (auto-attack) and I got half way through the demo. The only strategy was when my finger cramped up and I decided to switch hands.

Seriously, try it yourselves. It works.

im playing it on xbox. cant afford the parts to build the space-computer to run modern games

And so the love of BioWare begins anew, like the Spring season all over again, and the snow will fall in a vain attempt to cover the beauty of Spring, but lo, the sun of truth, critical and consumer applause, will banish the snow from our sights again...just like with ME2

jonyboy13:

Grey_Focks:
Christ, the internet really hates this game. Then again, they DID play a demo, and from that demo they all seem to have discovered it's a 10-hour long hack and slash dynasty warriors clone. Clearly.

Seriously though, what the hell is with you people questioning the sites integrity, just because they disagree with your views on a game? Fine, leave, the site would be a better place with people like you gone anyway.

nobody likes to admit when they're wrong. ESPECIALLY the internet.
They don't disagree with the views, they disagree with the facts.

Macrobstar:
Wow, because it totally doesn't look like every other CRPG

Look? LOOK? So your opinion about it's quality as an RPG is based on how the game looks? These are "today's standards" that you use to judge RPGs? Then I agree with you, by "today's standards" modern RPGs are THE BEST RPGs EVER MADE.

Baby Tea:

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.

Eeehh, I'm not sure I agree with you there. While it is true that there are often fewer options in how you interact with the world (and conversely how to solve a problem)there are things about modern RPG's that are better. We have lost to a large degree what I call 'bullshit mechanics'. One thing I liked about DA:O was that hexes actually worked. I cast misdirection hex and it has the desired effect. Go play some of the old RPG's. How many times would an enemy cast a status effect on you? What % of the time did that status effect work on you? Damn near 100% for most old CRPG's. Now you try to cast the same status effects on the most basic of enemies. How often does that work? For most pre-2000 CRPG's they were a waste of time, since if you were lucky they worked 25% of the time. I'm not saying all of them did it, but enough did.

That's a bullshit mechanic.

Enemies that could drain levels, or stats, or steal items, etc. Anything that gave your character a permanent loss of power is very annoying to the player. They have their place, but they should be rare. Going through the 'Swamps of Frustration' where every. other. step. is hounded by such a creature? Bullshit mechanic. Doubly so if this place is somewhere you must go through for the plot. This plus any other mechanic that makes the game literally impossible to beat some 40 hours in, due to either a bad decision that was poorly explained, or bad luck, needed to die a swift and painful death.

These types of mechanics have largely gone away in the last decade, and I say good riddance. Yes some of the possible actions are omitted, and it is a loss for sure, but to me it's a worthwhile trade.

Now disclaimer, I have played a wide swath of CRPG's, but have never played the BG series. My criticisms are not meant to be leveled at it specifically, just some of it's contemporaries. Perhaps BG stays away from 'bullshit mechanics', if so great. I just find that when people hold up X is the greatest game of the genre ever, they often forget such complaints. To me those types of things are a huge deal, one that has soured me on many games before.I for one appreciate games where I don't need to apply metagame knowledge just to avoid getting hosed by some stupid design decision.

Just my opinion.

chainguns:
So this game is perfect, apart from a few minor annoyances which can be switched off? Nothing at all to criticize, or suggest what could have been improved? What is this, an objective review or an EA bulletin? The problem with DA2 is not that it *has* become a hack&slash, arcade adventure ..... but has taken a huge stride in that direction. There are thousands of changes, any one on its own too subtle to stand in isolation as the 'smoking gun', but when taken together, paint a clear picture. Here are some of these:

* The length of the story, where the main quest takes 12-15 hours and required DLC to fully finish.

* The dialog wheel with emoticons for those who don't want to exert themselves by reading, and instead just want broadly a good, neutral and evil option (or witty, flirty etc). The paraphrasing that this gives rise to cases where you pick "But I'm not working for Cerberus" and Shepard says "I'm just working for Cerberus right now".

* The voiced protagonist, which meant cutting out race and origins customization. Because Bioware decided people lacked the imagination to 'role play' the lines in their minds, incapable of adding their own inflection and personality to the words.

* The cartoon-like combat animations, with back flipping ninja rogues, teleporting party members and exploding darkspawn.

* The removal of equipment optimization for your allies, because clearly deciding if armor offering +1 strength, was better than armor offering +30 Mana, was too complex for the new target audience of this game. Instead there are little stars to tell you which is better.

* Optional pause and play, so that instead of thinking how you'd play an encounter, you could just rush in and "that would be cool too". Pause and play seems redundant anyway given the frantic pace of the combat. Pause for half a second and you probably missed 3 or 4 things, so you just give up and focus on Hawke.

* And finally the tactical camera - basically gone. And the snarky phrase in the review

Greg Tito:
you can micro manage the tactics *if you have OCD*

. So according to the reviewer, I have to have a *disorder* to want to get out of the scrum and get a feel of the battle?

Brent Knowles, the lead designer of Dragon Age Origins, calls this game a sad inevitability of today's times. He resigned when he saw the direction DA2 was going: lots of cinematics, simplified and shorter gameplay. RPG fans should also read the editorial on hookedgamers.com. So whose opinion is more interesting, Greg's or Brent's? You decide with your dollar today.

so... a fanboy elitist quit his job when he realized his game was getting muddled up with "style"? wow, that's a REALLY stupid reason to quit a paying, stable job which would allow him to create more games and realize his artistic vision in the future.

besides that, you practically DO have to have OCD to do all that micro-management. and besides, the easier a game is, the more immersive the experience can be because there will be less "You died" screens breaking up the flow of the narrative and gameplay for more people.

you seem to REALLY hate the fact that people are doing acrobatics and pulling off impossible feats. so... what? you want typical MMORPG combat where you shuffle on over to an enemy, wait for a second for your character to respond, and then hope to god for good dice rolls? it's called "style", you add it to your game when you want it to really have an impact on people. believe me, years on down the line people will talk better about that time they ripped that ogre in half as he exploded than that time their character got a critical hit on a hurlock mage that knocked him down.

xqtr:

Macrobstar:
Wow, because it totally doesn't look like every other CRPG

Look? LOOK? So your opinion about it's quality as an RPG is based on how the game looks? These are "today's standards" that you use to judge RPGs? Then I agree with you, by "today's standards" modern RPGs are THE BEST RPGs EVER MADE.

Iv' never played it but from the screenshots the gameplay looks incredibly similar to CRPG's like baldurs gate

Have I accidentally stumbled into a youtube comments page here? With all the trolls here trumpeting their hate of this game in an ultimately futile manner, forgive me having to check if I'm browsing what I thought to be a forum full of sensible discussion and not the breeding ground for a baying horde on rambling troglodytes.

As for those stating they are leaving this site over this article. Well, goodbye then. It's unlikely we'll miss you.

That and of course, as usual, the arrival of a new Bioware game gives a chance for all the vermin to come writhing out of the woodwork to show how informed and wise they are by telling us they don't like Bioware, something that must of course be 100% correct because they're so bold to actually disagree with this review. So courageous!

*cough*

PurpleSky:

chinangel:

manythings:
I hate you DA2 playing guy... three more fucking days.

Did you have the High-res texture packs or just the regular copy?

I get my pre-order tomorrow morning :3

quoting you so you will read this post

"Game looks absolutely gorgeous"
"advancements in rpg mechanics"

I am leaving this site forever.Because of this article.
This review is ridiculous.Advancements? 3 choices instead of 5 or more like in old rpg games?
Have you even played rpg games or just the ones since the xbox360 was released?I think it's the later.

for shame

I like video games, but I don't want to throw my money away.Or waste my time reading articles here praising shitty products.

cry, cry, cry. they praised a game you think is bad, a game that you haven't even played that you think is bad. Go ahead and leave the site forever, no ones going to miss someone who is so childish that they can't even take it when SOMEONE ELSE likes a video game! *GASP*

no one is forcing you to buy it or even like it, least you could do is respect someone else opinion, even if you disagree.

Macrobstar:

xqtr:

Macrobstar:
Wow, because it totally doesn't look like every other CRPG

Look? LOOK? So your opinion about it's quality as an RPG is based on how the game looks? These are "today's standards" that you use to judge RPGs? Then I agree with you, by "today's standards" modern RPGs are THE BEST RPGs EVER MADE.

Iv' never played it but from the screenshots the gameplay looks incredibly similar to CRPG's like baldurs gate

I KNOW that you haven't played it :). It was obvious from the beginning (BTW great review for anyone who thinks that this game is worse, because it is dated (written by someone who thought so) http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/planescapetorment/player_review.html?id=724995&tag=player-reviews%3Bcontinue%3B3).

MarsProbe:
Have I accidentally stumbled into a youtube comments page here? With all the trolls here trumpeting their hate of this game in an ultimately futile manner, forgive me having to check if I'm browsing what I thought to be a forum full of sensible discussion and not the breeding ground for a baying horde on rambling troglodytes.

As for those stating they are leaving this site over this article. Well, goodbye then. It's unlikely we'll miss you.

That and of course, as usual, the arrival of a new Bioware game gives a chance for all the vermin to come writhing out of the woodwork to show how informed and wise they are by telling us they don't like Bioware, something that must of course be 100% correct because they're so bold to actually disagree with this review. So courageous!

*cough*

no kidding, this looks more like a thread on 4chan than an actual forum.

I don't know what's more fun to read, the comment section or the review itself. So much anger over such small trifling things in the comments...it's making me hungry.

Anyway, seeing as I am skint and thinking about getting this when I'm not so skint, this review has swayed me slightly. However, I'll have to see what other reviews think of it, before buying it regardless as I do want game NOW AND I HATE BEING POOR! ...*Ahem*

Azaraxzealot:
so... a fanboy elitist quit his job when he realized his game was getting muddled up with "style"? wow, that's a REALLY stupid reason to quit a paying, stable job which would allow him to create more games and realize his artistic vision in the future.

besides that, you practically DO have to have OCD to do all that micro-management. and besides, the easier a game is, the more immersive the experience can be because there will be less "You died" screens breaking up the flow of the narrative and gameplay for more people.

He was actually Lead Designer/Creative Director on Dragon Age, not a "fanboy elitist", he was also one of the more prominent designers for Baldur's Gate 2 and Jade Empire, he was Co-Lead Designer for Neverwinter Nights and Lead Designer for its Expansions and also somewhat worked on KOTOR... He worked for Bioware for 10 years: http://blog.brentknowles.com/2010/08/15/bioware-brent-year-10-fall-2008-summer-2009/ and he left the studio because the newest games turned out in a way he did not like and the company changed...

He should be nothing but admired for standing up for what he believes in imo...

Also if you want less "you died" screens and an "immersive experience" over actual gameplay or some challenge try watching a movie?

*sigh* People, a review is an opinion. Just like yours. If you have played the game and have such a strong opinion on it then sell it and don't recommend it to anyone. Go make a review yourself, there's a section for that. You have played the game, right? Right?

Yes, some RPGs nowadays seem dumbed down, with more emphasis on the action part than on the RP part. However, I'd rather have a streamlined inventory, than a hard to navigate mess, like in the first Mass Effect. Or cutting down on skills that do marginally different things. Yes, sometimes I wish for a game with deeper RPG elements. Do you know what I do then? I play a deeper RPG. If you like them so much, just play them.

Also, kindly stop complaining about Greg reviewing the 360 version. I don't think Bioware would send all three versions for a review. All the Escapist's review that I've read say what version they're based on, which is good for the sake of transparency. If he had reviewed the PC version there'd be people complaining that he was a PC elitist or something.

Oh, and finally:

Do you find yourself stating your opinion as fact?

Do you imply that news outlets were bought to say something that goes against your opinion?

Can't hold down that burning desire to voice your disagreement with other's opinions?

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esin:
Sure is one of the 'best looking games of this generation'!

This review reads like there was some money changing hands.

It looks like I'll be skipping DA2. From everything I've seen,pretty much every complaint that people had when it was first announced has turned out to be valid.

Ehm, that hack'n'slash game with a few basic RPG elements "A pinnacle of role-playing games"!!?
LoL, sorry but i'm lost for words...just as you just lost all the credibility that you had left as a reviewer. How many real RPGs did you actually play if any at all?

http://i.imgur.com/Ap7HR.jpg

The game looks like shit even on the highest settings and with the high-texture pack. But it runs like a one legged dog on my computer ( Intel i7 920, 6 gig 1600mhz ram, Win7, HD5850)
The combat is dumbed down, and I really dislike the fact that Hard has no FF. Nightmare is a bit to much for me sometimes, but NO FF on hard just seems silly.

The character, well, I'm only an hour into the game, so they are good so far. But the fucking dialog holy shit it's bad sometimes. "I want to be a dragon".

The facial animations suck. HL2 did them way better six years ago. Overall it feels rushed and like a quick cash-in. (Probably to make up money for the HUGE failure that will be their mmo)

It is worse then the first in every single aspect in my opinion, and is everything that is wrong with RPG's nowdays. Worse combat that feels less rpg and more hack nī slash,( Also, it looks silly with swinging a 2h sword like a stick. But at lest mages aren't demigods anymore), worse characters, worse dialog, and worse graphics. Also no isometric view.

It is still fun at some times, but yeah. I want a series to improve. Hope they make a DA:O 2 or something, more like the original, because this might be the biggest dissapointment of a game in recent years for me.

Ah well, at least shogun 2 looks promising.

Sorry for doubles.

neojam:
Ehm, that hack'n'slash game with a few basic RPG elements "A pinnacle of role-playing games"!!?
LoL, sorry but i'm lost for words...just as you just lost all the credibility that you had left as a reviewer. How many real RPGs did you actually play if any at all?

http://i.imgur.com/Ap7HR.jpg

OMG I laughed so hard.
You sir, are epic.

I agree that he just lost his credibility and it's a shame.
Before people start fanboying on my ass please read the next sentence first even though I said it and others said it too before:
Having his own opinion is fine, but the problem in these review is that he disagrees with facts. About the graphics, gameplay, skills and much much more. If he said that they were crappy yet he likes it then good for him, that just means he got a bad/weird taste. But presenting the game as an epic RPG and calling it "best looking" is just being a bad reviewer.
Sorry Greg but -these- are the facts.

Observations so far:

-Unless there's an option I missed, it looks like this only properly supports widescreen. Everything looks perpetually scrunched on my ancient bastard of a TV. That says more about my equipment than the game design, though.

-The background mechanics seem to work a lot differently than they did in the demo, or at least the numbers add up differently. Don't know how much practical effect that will have yet.

-There's a warrior talent that says "Enemy damage reduction 90% vs. regular attacks, 50% vs. critical attacks". I know what they're trying to say, but seeing as how other talents word it more like "enemy damage reduction -25%", I'm not touching that damn thing until I have some kind of verification that it isn't going to screw me. Bioware does have an unfortunate history when it comes to those kinds of glitches...

Looking solid, otherwise.

Dexter111:

Azaraxzealot:
so... a fanboy elitist quit his job when he realized his game was getting muddled up with "style"? wow, that's a REALLY stupid reason to quit a paying, stable job which would allow him to create more games and realize his artistic vision in the future.

besides that, you practically DO have to have OCD to do all that micro-management. and besides, the easier a game is, the more immersive the experience can be because there will be less "You died" screens breaking up the flow of the narrative and gameplay for more people.

He was actually Lead Designer/Creative Director on Dragon Age, not a "fanboy elitist", he was also one of the more prominent designers for Baldur's Gate 2 and Jade Empire, he was Co-Lead Designer for Neverwinter Nights and Lead Designer for its Expansions and also somewhat worked on KOTOR... He worked for Bioware for 10 years: http://blog.brentknowles.com/2010/08/15/bioware-brent-year-10-fall-2008-summer-2009/ and he left the studio because the newest games turned out in a way he did not like and the company changed...

He should be nothing but admired for standing up for what he believes in imo...

Also if you want less "you died" screens and an "immersive experience" over actual gameplay or some challenge try watching a movie?

i want an INTERACTIVE immersive experience that puts me into the protagonist's shoes and allows me to feel the story by interacting with it. movies and books can't do that. and besides that, the gameplay is improved (as most reviewers will point out, and these people are paid professionals on judging whether or not something is improved in a game) so as to allow for a BETTER interactive experience that DRAWS YOU INTO the game.

and all i saw in that letter was "WAAAAAH! THINGS ARE DIFFERENT AND I CAN'T MAKE MY INACCESSIBLE GAMES ANYMORE! WAAAAAH!"

so really? he seemed like he was being reasonable about it up until he said "Party control/tactical combat are huge factors in my enjoyment of a role-playing game as is adopting the role of the hero (i.e., customizing my character)." which is simply an opinion. who said that party control/tactical combat HAS to be in a game to make it good? that's an elitist point of view right there, and it does nothing but make gaming seem like inaccessible nerd-space the more it perverts our culture.

Good lord. I have never seen so much hate over an opinion about a game. Its a game, people. Its not like one opinion will cause the universe to collapse in on itself. From some of the comments you'd think the Escapist gave Big Rigs Over the Road Racing a perfect score or something.

Why can't there be a single person in these damn games that talks like a normal person? Does it always have to be this "haha, I'm so witty" tone? All this talk about classic and "modern" or "streamlined" is one thing, but the dialog is SOO bad. Why do people not notice?

God dammit, the utter fanwank over Planescape: Torment begins anew. Okay guys, we know, PS:T was a damn good game, and a classic. But do we REALLY need to keep singing its praises in opposition to every single new RPG? Every RPG player worth his salt knows that game is the best, or at least, has had a hundred raging RPG fans (who might not have even experienced the game) slamming that view down his throat if he dares express his opinion that he likes modern RPGs.

As for the review... I'll wait until I've played it, I guess. I've heard good things and bad things, so yeah. Hope it wasn't a bad preorder.

Azaraxzealot:
i want an INTERACTIVE immersive experience that puts me into the protagonist's shoes and allows me to feel the story by interacting with it.

Then maybe you should become a LARPer. You rather won't die during LARPing...

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