Zero Punctuation: Dragon Age II

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Finally! A game critic that agrees with me! It's hard to believe how many people ignore the dungeon recycling thing. Story kinda seemed like the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie: loosely strung together plot that's purpose is to get people interested in the next game. One really expensive game hook. I'd rather have a prologue cinematic. Plus, if I want a game similar to my life, I'll play freaking Sims 3.

Thespian:
Everything he said here was true, but it was also what I liked about the game. I prefer a story that's just about some Refugee guy who's life is fucked up and gets a few lucky breaks and then makes a name for himself. Why does it have to be more? Why must the fate of EVERYTHING EVER constantly rest on THE ONE LAST HOPE OF EVERYTHING EVER? Okay, so if every story was about some random guy trying to make it in the world we'd get bored, but I thought DAII was a nice refreshing perspective. There was no good or evil, just several displaced political groups and a desperate need for some coin.

Agreed. I'm tired of all this "Chosen One" storytelling bullshit. DA:O did that quite well, and I"m actually glad they took the story telling in a new direction for the sequel.

OT: Judging my his usual level of vitriol, seems this game isn't quite as bad as so many people are saying. He hit a lot of nails on the head though, good stuff Yahtzee.

Another group of enemies spawned behind my mages while I was fighting? I'M SO SURPRISED!!! Oh wait that happens every fight.

I romanced the pirate hag (her words not mine) cause I remember her from the first game...yup that's my only reason.

I did get a bit peeved that I would start an EPIC NEW QUEST! And be in the same room I was before, it was like hey did they have someone in here to clean out all the bodies while I was gone?

Edit: If you were having trouble coming up with another name instead of Dragon Age 2, they could've closed Dragon Age: Origins with a line from Flemeth:

"Hopefully we'll all meet again in Dragon Age 2: The Search for More Money!"

Rather glad to see someone else note the camera issues.

That camera is part of the reason I even gave up playing in the middle of the demo. I got sick of fighting it to see what the hell was attacking me.

So theres no real conflict? Odd, from what I saw in the demo of Whatsherface looking for The Champion or whatever I would have assumed there would be some recruiting to go do something or rather.

Seanski:

rsvp42:

Somewhere in between. I'm playing it on PC, so I can't speak on the loading times (which have been great for me), but "storyless" is completely off base. The story drives every mission in the game, but you're basically playing through episodes of this guy's life.

I would like to know which game you played, because the plot is nearly nonexistent. Half of the time you will find yourself wandering around, doing quests for no reason other than they are the closest thing to you. It really plays out like a MMO in this way, where the story is an after thought to the grinding out quests.

I chose not to read your spoilers because I haven't finished the game (RL responsibilities limit my play time). While I agree that many of the optional or secondary quests were inconsequential, they still had story and usually related in some way to the events. If the plot suffers, it's only because it lacks a clear driving goal that connects everything. I don't feel like there are any more random optional quests here than there were in the Mass Effect games, but those had the benefit of an overarching goal that connected all the main story quests. I'm not saying that going for the more episodic, slice-of-life approach was the best choice, but it's enjoyable for what it is.

Whether you appreciate its approach or not, the game is at least fun with an enjoyable cast of characters. And my playthrough at least has had plenty of hefty story moments that affected me a lot more than I expected. But of course, I didn't come into the game with flawed expectations or presuppositions about how it would play, so I'm enjoying it and I'm interested in how everything turns out. I don't expect everyone to have the same experience, but I figure my favorable impressions are at least as valuable as some negative ones. I have one friend in particular that couldn't stand the first one, but is having a blast with DA2. To each, their own.

Yeah, pretty much sums it up really.

Both ME2 and DA2 feel like Bioware just wasting everyones time by constantly throwing hordes of crappy, stupid, monotonous enemies at the player after trapping them in their new shitty, linear environments all the while shouting their excuse of "WE IMPROOVED TEH COMBAHT!" Which happens to be debatable.

I would say it is spot on, but for someone as brutal as Yahtzee and for a game as awful and incomplete as this, that was way too tame and generous. Dragon Age 2 isn't a game. It is an extended teaser demo for a game that has yet to be conceived. It has no purpose for existing and less content than a $10 dlc add-on pack from Bethesda. When Dragon Age 3 is inevitably made and released, there will be a 1 paragraph summary before the game that explains the existence of a Champion in Kirkwall who kicked Quonari arse and blah blah blah mages. That's it. That's what Dragon Age 2 will come down to; the introduction to a Star Wars movie. It is a complete waste of time with no purpose, terrible game mechanics, and nothing to add to the universe. I can't believe I bought this POS new. Sigh.

Gosh darn it Yatzee you played it on a console didn't you?

That's like reviewing original Starcraft on Nintendo 64.

Play Bioware games on the PC.

Andothul:

What lore? DA2 has you in Kirkwall the entire freaking game. Exploration and DA2 in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

I never mentioned exploration or experiencing more of the world. By fleshing out more of the conflict between mages and the chantry, showing unique powers like Anders and Justice or Fenris' markings, and learning more about the Free Marches and Kirkwall in particular, you're getting more lore. All I'm saying is that if you dig the Dragon Age world, you'll appreciate the extra pieces of it you get from DA2. It's not as expansive as DA:O, but then again, DA:O was laying the foundation, while DA2 is simply exploring some facets of it in different ways.

DA2 has a much smaller scope than the first one, you'll hear no argument from me on that, but what it provides within that scope is fun and entertaining.

Loading screens, camera issues, and combat: that's what you get for playing the console version, instead of the far superior PC version. Which you should have known about going in, since DAO had the same issues, and this is BioWare we're talking about, after all. So you only have yourself to blame.

The story was great; it's refreshing to have the plot not revolve around saving the world, and to be unable to solve everything "perfectly".

The characters were well designed and their personal storylines and banter were well written. Things got a little disjointed with some of the cutscenes (Why are you welcoming me to your home and saying you didn't expect to see me again? We've just been adventuring together for the past hour!) but that's forgivable. And it's nice that this time the companions actually do seem to have a life beyond standing around in the camp until called on for combat duty (there's quite a few references to things they're doing in their off-hours when they're not in Hawke's party, and a few scenes where you see one companion talking to another one).

The gameplay is fun (since I didn't make the mistake of getting it for console), although the waves of enemies do get a bit silly.

The only real thing I don't like too much are the recycled environments; sure, they're dressed a bit differently each time, with loot and enemies in different places and different pathways open, but more variety in the actual locations would have been nice. It's strongly reminiscent of Mass Effect 1's generic warehouse missions, and that's not a good thing. I imagine this was some kind of budget or time constraint, but that's not much of an excuse.

Overall, though: good game. Thoroughly addicted.

The part I most liked about the game was the absence of any GIANT EVIL ENTITY THAT WE MUST GO ON A 40 HOUR RECRUITMENT ADVENTURE IN ORDER TO EVENTUALLY SAVE THE WORLD FROM. Ahem. It was nice to see an RPG get over that old hangup.

There was no mention of the boobs either. I am disappoint. But then Yahtzee apparently hated Demons Souls too, the greatest game of the last 5 years, so I am suspicious. Perhaps he's really just a KotoR/ME/DA:O-era Bioware fanboy with a mic. Durr.

Deshin:
I'm having an issue with the video, is it making an odd buzzing sound every now and then (noticed around 3:20 til 4:00) or is it my speakers?

I kept having to pause thinking my fan was clogged

Same here, really weird.

Ah, this review reminds me of some of the older reviews Yahtzee made. Yeah, we have differences of opinion about this game, but I can't fault a single flaw you pointed out. They were all more or less right on the money, ESPECIALLY the part about the game always respawning bad guys when you thought you were done.

Why did this have to come out right before bioware goes up against mojang... the timing is awful -_-"

You know, watching Yahtzee's game taste disintegrate is actually sort of interesting.
Yes, Dragon Age 2 has some really, really big flaws. Yes the plot is unfocused, but at least it's not the ridiculous, narcissistic re-telling of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that ever single RPG seems to be. What Dragon Age 2 did was change the generic plot of "There's an evil hoard of monsters and you're the only one that can stop it!". It's really a shame that people can't see that removing this hideous cliche is a step for the better.

It's always fascinating to watch the sheer scale of the love it/hate it controversy of this game. I liked it. I didn't really feel the plot was disjointed at all. If you pay attention, you can see the tension growing and it blowing up at the end is the logical conclusion. Plus the characters were interesting and the dialogue was good. So, hey, if I'm the base their pandering to with simplifications, I'm ok with that. And no I'm not some Bioware fanboy, I actually didn't care for Mass Effect 1 (combat was clunky and the inventory was needlessly complex) and I have no faith whatsoever in The Old Republic.

Even when taking Yahtzee's charming exaggerations into account, this game sounds truly awful. The hope for a next-gen Baldur's Gate grows ever more dim...

animehermit:

JayDeth:
THANK YOU, Yahtzee. Even though I almost certainly could have predicted how this review would have turned out, it's nice to see a review where the reviewer isn't throwing out an 8 or 9 score simply because they're mystified by the complex combat i.e.: mashing the A button until it breaks.

congratulations!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDajqW561KM

you just criticized a game that you haven't played. feel special now?

I haven't? But why would Gamestop sell me a game that comes in a Dragon Age 2 case and says Dragon Age 2 on the disc and the title screen declares it to be Dragon Age 2 and it credits everyone who worked on Dragon Age 2 after you beat the game, when it's not really Dragon Age 2?

Something's fishy here... I'd better call Gamestop and find out what's up. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Ayjona:
Even when taking Yahtzee's charming exaggerations into account, this game sounds truly awful. The hope for a next-gen Baldur's Gate grows ever more dim...

Wasn't this what Dragon Age: Origins was supposed to be? Once I noticed it, it was pretty hard not to see it everywhere. It's too serious and brown for Minsc though.

One thing he didn't notice that I thought he would is that there are a lot of things presented as choices, but you actually have no power to say no to. For everyone who has a copy of Dragon Age 2, see how many of the quests at the first part of the game actually let you say "No, I'm not doing it" out of all the ones that give you a red X option.

ScorpSt:

A Curious Fellow:
You're limited to a human?

How could you not know that?

A Curious Fellow:
Anders is GAY?

He's not gay, he's bi. All the LIs are. Again, I find it odd that you do not know this already.

A Curious Fellow:
wtf. Now I don't want this game. I'll just replay Origins.

If these two reasons alone dissuade you from playing the game, then I guess it just wasn't for you, and neither are most games out there.

I think you have the wrong idea. Or you're dim. Either way.

My points are, 1 why is the sequel more limiting, 2 Anders wasn't into men in Awakening and it seems unnecessary to rewrite his character in such a way now, and 3 I already sank so much money into the apparently far superior Origins so I'm gonna ignore this one.

New point: you don't think its really weird that every single love interest in the game is happy to have sex with either gender and they really don't care? That there isn't a single non-asexual character that doesn't have a preference? Seriously?

The game sounded like fun in a sense, but I busted up laughing with the mages dieing off because they were "to kind", rejecting to accept any potions from you Haha. Also, am delighted about being able to have more then one sex interest in the game (homosexual, ect.) which I am ok with :), makes the game more realistic rather then trying to please people who are being insecure you know? (no offense)

Besides that, the game sounds a bit awful to me really. Not being able to choose your species? The plot doesn't even sound fulfilling, rather it is just about making yourself equiped with luxury and wealth. I like games where you face a bad guy for a good cause or least the plot makes the story itself designed well. No matter, just hope that Dragon Age III shall be different whenever that comes out, or if it does.

Every change from the first I read about seems to be changing exactly the things I like into things I don't like. I still told myself I'd play it, until I tried out the demo and realized things were worse than I had expected. Pass.

rankfx:
Wasn't this what Dragon Age: Origins was supposed to be?

Yah, and for a short while, it seemed to fill those pixelated and outdated but somehow still magically sated shoes. But it didn't take me many hours to start wishing I was back in the Friendly Arms Inn. Perhaps the brown seriousness and serious brownness had something to do with it.

rankfx:
Once I noticed it, it was pretty hard not to see it everywhere. It's too serious and brown for Minsc though.

Normally, I wouldn't argue that comic relief was an asset to any good game, but yeah, the Minsc needs deep, lush green forests and open, blue, endless skies. What space hamster would ever choose to touch down in Dragon Age's bleak landscape?

rankfx:
One thing he didn't notice that I thought he would is that there are a lot of things presented as choices, but you actually have no power to say no to. For everyone who has a copy of Dragon Age 2, see how many of the quests at the first part of the game actually let you say "No, I'm not doing it" out of all the ones that give you a red X option.

Bleh. I used to enjoy arguing against those who would say that the games of the past are somehow better than those of today, but many of the past three years' AAA titles is making that sentiment more appealing. I'm off to Avadon: the Black Fortress to remind myself why I still (albeit rarely) game...

Dungeon recycling was also mentioned in a ton of gamespot player reviews. Love the first one, no way I'm getting this one. Also with the combat system seems to be made for console and ported to PC instead of the other way around. That's fine, good for them, but I don't want button mashing combat.

Even Dragons Age was simplifed from their earlier games (BG etc.). I missed the tactical magic fights. All the magic shield levels, anti magic spells, shield piercing spells, time stop, hung spells etc. Those magic battles were EPIC, just hammering on the big guys, breaking the fabric of space stuff ;). Now another level even more simple, I'm not interested.

If it's due to EA and their usual 'faster and cheaper' approach to game making, I hope BW can throw off the influence and get back to their old selves and not end up like so many other developers. Being forced to make worse and worse games and then having the poor sales used as an excuse to break up the group and get spread all over the EA machine. RIP Bullfrog etc.

I think enemies should surrender more often in video game battles. In this and many other games I find that after murdering fifty evil dudes the final low ranking grunt is still trash-talking with only half a health bar. Goody-Two-Shoes Hawke would happily take them to prison or give them a stern talking to...

Come to think of it, I recall shooting a lot of 'fleeing' bandits in the back during Fallout 3, and I was being RPing as 'good'.

The Gentleman:
If the backlash is any indication, "knobbing off" would not have been the most popular subtitle for this game...

They could of gone with
"Dragon Age: Bent You Over 2". Because I know I'm not the only one who was jilted by the game, and by jilted I mean payed for something, only to get the game with none of said "Signature Edition" things being included because EA and Biowhore didn't feel like printing out enough slips of papers with codes on them. I guess they paper-cutting arm got tired from all the copies they had to make, and decided to just say "f*** it" and make us deal with tech support for several days without warning.

And yes, I just called them Biowhore. Both this game, and from what I've heard of Arrival for ME 2, are both bloody dull and not quite worth it. They'll have their chance to earn back "ware" when ME 3 comes out and impresses me moreso than the pathetic showing they had for the Spike TV reveal trailer, or SW:TOR blows WoW out of the water.

Hell, apparently the DLC for the Exiled Prince is still glitched out. And they managed to introduce new bugs to an old engine, that the first Dragon Age game had. Equipping, then unequipping a shield doesn't remove the added armor it provides, equipping the shield again then ADDS to that already high number! And if you go to turn in a sidequest, if you click A faster than a one-armed, one-finger guy could while also moving around the character, you start up a second glitch that gets you an infinite amount of EXP and whatnot. Which shows there was zero testing done to the game.

All Dragon Age had was the dupe trick, which was relatively harmless and easy to miss, and somehow that is STILL in-game, despite everyone and their mother posting a video on youtube about it.

And yeah, the recycling levels thing is getting to the point where people are bringing it up nearly as much as that same generic cave is seen.

No Mike Hawke jokes?????!?!?!

Mike Hawke, nuff said.

I really wish I disagreed with any of this review. But Yahtzee, you magnificent stallion, you forgot about how they all but throw out choice in the last third of the game. It goes from the player choosing to Bioware assuming direct control.

emusega:
Oh thank god. If it was good I would have to go back and play the first installment which I skipped despite all the praise I tried to ignore.

Ah, but you're missing out on the Dragon Age that's actually good if you skip on the first one.

has anyone thought how this will effect bioware's match up with mojang? I mean it seams a LOT of people are pissed or disappointed about DA2 and if there's enough of them.... who knows.

I think the criticism of repetitive environments is perfectly valid. It's also my number one problem with the game. I don't know if I would chalk it completely up to the company hoping to squeeze as much money from the franchise as possible, though. I've been fortunate to speak with the writers before, and the passion they have for this game and the story is evident. Whether that extends to upper management I can't say, but there is a soul to this game.

I also think the theme of the game is less oppression than an exploration of terrorism and whether or not it could ever be justified. Yahtzee used Nazi symbols in his review, suggesting a Holocaust allegory with the mages. You might read it that way, but I think the climax pushed it more towards current concerns over Islamic fundamentalists.

Furthermore, DA2 takes pains not to paint mages as helpless, oppressed victims. Quite often when we see mages throughout the game, they're possessed or working with demons or otherwise engaging in some not-so-wholesome acts. Meanwhile, we meet templars (the ostensible oppressors) who really are just trying to keep their charges safe. Yes, we meet characters who fit the stereotypes of both groups. But the conflict is far from black or white, which is the point.

Yahtzee and others have said the game lacks an overarching Big Bad. I agree, but that's also the point. DA2 isn't a game where you vanquish an ancient evil. It's a game where you try to survive, where you try to take care of your family. It's also a game where you fail sometimes. In fact, a case could be made for the Champion of Kirkwall himself being the Big Bad. One of the characters in the framing story certainly seems to view Hawke that way, especially initially.

The game diverges from the traditional story path of the RPG. As Yahtzee pointed out, it's less of an epic save-the-world rehash. Personally, I think that's a good thing. It's nice to see a game try something different. Here the narrative is more personal. It reminds me a bit of Red Dead Redemption in that great emphasis is placed on the main character's family. Hawke feels more three-dimensional than the Warden or even Commander Shepard. But I understand not everyone likes changes to the formula. I, on the other hand, hope BioWare continues this direction.

DTWolfwood:
ah yes the first thing i notice was how hot hawkes 40-50yo mum was too XD
All the "old" women have wrinkly faces with 20 yo bodies, its so confusing

i laughed quite a bit about the adventurers waiting about gobbing off eachother XD

I found this even funnier :P
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g59DShNtkqI
Go to 9 minutes in and watch till 13 xD

In the internets: Epic = generic

Don't get me wrong. The game it's full of problem; recycling, ANOTHER WAVE?!, AI going completely banana after resurrection

But, why there's always be an ancient evil?

Bioware should take some cues from this game. Corner cutting is one, the rushed out way we were given our special skills (I too cringed a bit over the fact that I played a very pro mage warrior and ended up using the templar skill because, let's face it, berserker did fuck all. Or the fact that you can apparently be a blood mage and still be against blood magic.) There is a sense of disconnect between two very good games, the action rpg (which is quite tactical, mind) and the story (which is, as mentioned by many, a very bold move for a videogame.)

Too many corners were cut, and Bioware should revise what to do next with the franchise. I hope they don't go back to "safe" save the world story telling. Dealing with a more personal story was the biggest payoff of the game.

In the end, Bioware could have upped the ante on production values and smoothing out those dungeons and the sterile look of the city. it requires a whole new game engine, perhaps, but I keep thinking how truly great this story would have been in say, Assassin's creed's setting.

With Tactical combat.

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