Zero Punctuation: Dragon Age II

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I'm kinda surprised he didn't make a 'not gay' joke.

I agree 100%.
This game sucked, what was it 6 different dungeons. Ya that doesn't get old. It's so true you spend more time loading than anything else.
I loved the first one.
We all know there will be a #3, and they can keep it.
What's funny is if you go onto the offical Dragon Age II web site, the Escapist is quoted.
The Escapist
Review Score: 5/5
"Dragon Age II is the rare sequel that improves upon its already excellent predecessor."

Massively over hyped and very disappointing.
Dragon Age II was not nearly as good as DAO, and, as pointed out, recycles more than even the most environmentally aware does.

Sooo... I guess I should pick up the game, then?

ouch111:
Sooo... I guess I should pick up the game, then?

Actually, yes, yes you should. Expect terrible rehashing of the dungeons, but also expect a story that breaks from the norm, and pretty fun combat.

high_castle:
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.

Thank you for this insightful viewpoint on the game that I can readily agree with. It's nice to read that other people also enjoyed the direction Dragon Age 2 has shifted to.

grimner:

ouch111:
Sooo... I guess I should pick up the game, then?

Actually, yes, yes you should. Expect terrible rehashing of the dungeons, but also expect a story that breaks from the norm, and pretty fun combat.

Good. That's pretty much what I understood from his review.

Warning, this contains spoilers

I actually liked DA2 more than the original. Combat felt more fluid and while having multiple waves of enemies coming from the ether did hurt my suspension of disbelief it still made combat more manageable than in the original where most every battle resulted in one side ambushing the other in some way, shape or form. I did miss having my rogue lay traps, but again this was offset by having combat better balanced between the three classes in my opinion.

As for the writing I think that it's a step up from the original that pushes the narrative to a new level. In the original built a largely generic fantasy world, but it kept adding elements that made it feel unique. Mages all live in a tower, where they're watched by religious zealots who will cut them down if they think they step out of bounds. Dwarves live in caves and mine without using magic and they're empire is in the decline because of the GREAT EVIL, except for ones that live on the surface and face discrimination because of it. Elves are crazy weirdos who live in the woods, except for the ones who are slaves.

These are all tropes with a slight twist which establish the background of the world where you fought THE GREAT EVIL. Dragon Age 2 decides that rather than exploring the tropes, it was time to explore the world. The first chapter focused on the relation of the surface dwarves to the rest of the society. It also begins to explore the relationship between the Chantry and the Qunari and the Templars and the mages. The second chapter brings the Qunari to the foreground as it asks the player if they ought to be allowed to enforce their idea of justice in a foreign city ruled by the Chantry. All the while the mage question continues to boil as relations between the templars, chantry and mages continue to decline. The final chapter removes all external factors and focuses solely on human problems between the mages and the templars. This has been building for the entire game and many subquests even forced you to answer this question already on smaller scales as you must ultimately answer who should rule, and who should be ruled? Is the Imperium correct, is the Chantry correct or is there some other way?

So yes, I do think that it was very well written. While some minor elements did annoy me, the hands on characters for instance. Overall it was a worthy sequel and the fact that they used a story within a story as the setup for the game also helped solve some of my suspension of disbelief issues as all of your actions do not have to be thought to have taken place in strictly chronological order, meaning you didn't really decide to do a random quest before doing something important for shits and giggles the story teller just went off on a tangent.

Well, what can i say other than... spot on good sir.

I dont know what to say. On one hand the game looks fun. On the other hand it really does seem rushed in a lot of ways. But then again I've only seen about 20 minutes of gameplay, so what the hell do i know...

The first game was pretty bad and this sequel does nothing to help change my mind on the franchise.

OMG! Finally another accurate review of DA2 by my favourite hat-guy.
Yahtzee, everything you mentioned here is just SPOT ON!
Bought this game last week (regretted it, I knew I would), and last time I checked I was just starting Act 3 (i think it was act 3).
And now I don't even want to complete it, no interest nor enthusiasm whatsoever.
Thanks dude, now do Crysis 2 :D

Hahaha my character was named Ethan Hawke. Good times

Can't say i disagree with most of what he said, but I didn't think the controls were that bad.

Probably because I'm on the PC, and the PC plays almost exactly the same as the first one.

Great review. You did however, forget to mention the pointless cameo's. I mean seriously, i killed Sten around 7 times!!!

cpz01:
Great review. You did however, forget to mention the pointless cameo's. I mean seriously, i killed Sten around 7 times!!!

Sten is their rank, not their name.

Anyway, yeah I agree with pretty much everything said here. The only thing that didn't really suffer were the characters, everything else I felt was a step down from the first.

he should put a big ass sign at the beginning "YAHTZEE PLAYED DRAGON AGE II ON A CONSOLE".

despite bioware attempting to tailor the control scheme to the console controls, it works much better with keyboard/mouse. also the graphics have been really downgraded on consoles. so those 2 arguments are OUT.

otherwise, i kinda agree with the rest, dungeons are repeated so many times and even when you think its a new dungeon, its just the previous one, in reverse. the story isnt to bad but very restrictive. though the characters tend to be pretty good and fairly well thought out.

AHHAHAHAHHAHAHH
I ROFLED BAD at the ending animation :D :D
Im playing D.A:Origins and im lovign it so far. But now im scared to play 2 X_X

Sten is a rank and not a name. There's hundreds of them out there. I liked the Alistair cameo, but Zevran and Leliana seemed a bit shoe-horned in.

Thanks Yahtzee. I was suspicious of this game for a while and, while I like Bioware as a company, my faith has started to dwindle with the tripe they have been releasing recently.
OT: just completed "The Arrival" DLC for Mass Effect 2. Was a big dissapointment...

Oro44:
Sten is a rank and not a name. There's hundreds of them out there. I liked the Alistair cameo, but Zevran and Leliana seemed a bit shoe-horned in.

Actually at the end of DA1 it mentions Leliana going off to join that organization. So that one makes sense to me. If anything the Alistair cameo was a shoe horn in my opinion as nothing really came of it. That said I loved it for the last line, "he has a name you know."

heh heh, exactly right. the lack of any real story really bugged me. also, my guy was named chokeonc hawke.

grimner:

ouch111:
Sooo... I guess I should pick up the game, then?

Actually, yes, yes you should. Expect terrible rehashing of the dungeons, but also expect a story that breaks from the norm, and pretty fun combat.

It breaks the bioware norm atleast which is going from extremely good to kinda shit.

Wow, for once Yahtzee reviewed a game I enjoy and I completely agree with him. Huh.

chimeracreator:

Oro44:
Sten is a rank and not a name. There's hundreds of them out there. I liked the Alistair cameo, but Zevran and Leliana seemed a bit shoe-horned in.

Actually at the end of DA1 it mentions Leliana going off to join that organization. So that one makes sense to me. If anything the Alistair cameo was a shoe horn in my opinion as nothing really came of it. That said I loved it for the last line, "he has a name you know."

I can understand that. For me, he's king, he makes official visits to places so it makes sense. But yeah, Leliana, Zevran and (SPOILER) sad, drunk Alistair just happening to be in Kirkwall one after the other was a bit much for me.

At least Yahtzee will give an honest opinion on a game that buys lots of advertising from the Escapist.

Oro44:

chimeracreator:

Oro44:
Sten is a rank and not a name. There's hundreds of them out there. I liked the Alistair cameo, but Zevran and Leliana seemed a bit shoe-horned in.

Actually at the end of DA1 it mentions Leliana going off to join that organization. So that one makes sense to me. If anything the Alistair cameo was a shoe horn in my opinion as nothing really came of it. That said I loved it for the last line, "he has a name you know."

I can understand that. For me, he's king, he makes official visits to places so it makes sense. But yeah, Leliana, Zevran and (SPOILER) sad, drunk Alistair just happening to be in Kirkwall one after the other was a bit much for me.

I don't remember Leliana ever being there and I missed drunk Alistair (I looked for him too on my first play through as I recalled that the first game's credits said that he traveled across the sea where he sold off his equipment and turned into a drunken bum). Zev was definitely shoe horned in, but you have to admit that he was pretty funny. It reminded me of a D&D campaign when as a DM I throw in a former followed or ally that the party had from a previous game and the players all go, "Oh yeah, we did act like that."

Like a champ

chimeracreator:

Oro44:

chimeracreator:

Actually at the end of DA1 it mentions Leliana going off to join that organization. So that one makes sense to me. If anything the Alistair cameo was a shoe horn in my opinion as nothing really came of it. That said I loved it for the last line, "he has a name you know."

I can understand that. For me, he's king, he makes official visits to places so it makes sense. But yeah, Leliana, Zevran and (SPOILER) sad, drunk Alistair just happening to be in Kirkwall one after the other was a bit much for me.

I don't remember Leliana ever being there and I missed drunk Alistair (I looked for him too on my first play through as I recalled that the first game's credits said that he traveled across the sea where he sold off his equipment and turned into a drunken bum). Zev was definitely shoe horned in, but you have to admit that he was pretty funny. It reminded me of a D&D campaign when as a DM I throw in a former followed or ally that the party had from a previous game and the players all go, "Oh yeah, we did act like that."

The dialogue was pretty funny, especially if you have Isabela there. But the entire time I was talking to Zevran, I was thinking "WHATS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!" Bonus points if you talk to king Alistair, have Isabela in the party AND had the foursome at the Pearl in DA:O. Say what you will about the game, the writing is what really sells it for me. Leliana is there at the end talking to Cassandra, and if you have Sebastian she shows up early to spout some exposition. Drunky shows up at the Hanged Man at some point but I don't remember when.

harvz:
he should put a big ass sign at the beginning "YAHTZEE PLAYED DRAGON AGE II ON A CONSOLE".

despite bioware attempting to tailor the control scheme to the console controls, it works much better with keyboard/mouse. also the graphics have been really downgraded on consoles. so those 2 arguments are OUT.

otherwise, i kinda agree with the rest, dungeons are repeated so many times and even when you think its a new dungeon, its just the previous one, in reverse. the story isnt to bad but very restrictive. though the characters tend to be pretty good and fairly well thought out.

That repetition just kills it for me right there, didn't even need the combat or the bugs. No, not ever, no excuse, not for a full price game.

I have not played DA 2 and dont intend to buy it because I didnt like Origins or the demo however the story seems to be the least of the game's issues. The slow paced story, and the departure from save the world crap along with the serial killer hunt seems real cool to me.

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.

Yeah I can agree with the change of pace being nice, but people come to expect that a sequel should be somewhat similar to its predecessor unless told otherwise by the development teams. So people were expecting a story where the "fate of EVERYTHING EVER constantly rested on THE ONE LAST HOPE OF EVERYTHING EVER." I mean for example if someone made a game where you had to save the planet from [insert subjectively evil force], it became a big hit and they built up a huge fan base, then decided to make a sequel. One might expect that sequel game to follow the similar story arc line of a the first where the main character has to do something "epic" as oppose to say following the main character write reports and deal with insurance companies after said attack from the first.

Oro44:
[quote="chimeracreator" post="6.274071.10603765"]
The dialogue was pretty funny, especially if you have Isabela there. But the entire time I was talking to Zevran, I was thinking "WHATS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!" Bonus points if you talk to king Alistair, have Isabela in the party AND had the foursome at the Pearl in DA:O. Say what you will about the game, the writing is what really sells it for me. Leliana is there at the end talking to Cassandra, and if you have Sebastian she shows up early to spout some exposition. Drunky shows up at the Hanged Man at some point but I don't remember when.

Ah, I must have missed him. I had Isabela there for all of occasions along with Alister in the first game which made both of those cameos priceless. Once I head assassin camped out in a cave I knew had I had to bring her... actually that play through (my second time beating it) I brought her on virtually every mission as her dialog is priceless. Honestly Sandal's shop near the end of the game irked me more than anything else because it made no sense. In the first game I could kind of wave it off, but in the second it just seemed out of place. I am looking forward to the next game taking place either in Orlay, the Imperium or Antiva because all of them have been really fleshed out at this point. I'm hoping for the Imperium so we can see some awesome Mage vs Qunari action... plus it's the only place where the actions of this game wouldn't profoundly reshape politics.

ShenCS:
Does every fantasy story need to be about saving the world from some great evil? Can't it be about some guy/girl trying to survive in a hostile town throughout the years? Now I haven't played the game (mixed reviews and obscene price tag) so I don't know how they handle it, but the premise itself certainly has potential. I understand it can seem a bit disjointed if you're not working towards something overall but doesn't mean it can't work right?
Besides, western RPG world-threatening horrors are nearly always really, really boring. If where they succeed is the dialogue, characters and execution then is there anything wrong with putting the focus on that?
Not sure where I'm going with this, looks like I've just wasted your time. Sucker.

I agree with you on liking the concept. I'd defended the game for it in the early days. I was glad to hear Bioware breaking its own cliche plot. Where were they gonna take it I wondered?

Sadly, I got to play the game and I was let down. Its a big go nowhere plot that keeps you stuck in a boring box city with about 10 people living in it.
The main problem is Hawke has no motivation to stay, beyond "MONEH AND POWWA!!!!" so my good guy Hawke kinda wanted to go do something else but couldnt.
Fereldan need help recovering from a disaster! Lets go help them!
But Dragon age 2 says NO! Deal with our side quests! GET 30 ELF ROOTS!
*sigh*
Dont buy it. There is no thought, love or care in this game.

Onyx Oblivion:
Not much of a story...

But I liked how the rogue actually did flips and shit. I can't recall another RPG that had rogues that actually felt nimble.

I thought I'd hate the new combat. It's actually the only reason I keep playing...

I preferred the days when rogues were...rogues - rather than dexterity-based fighters. Baldurs Gate series, Planescape: Torment - heck, even FO1-2 with a stealth build. You had your 'nimble melee' characters as well, because you had multiple builds for different classes, and so you could make a dagger-based dual-wielding fighter with high dexterity instead of high strength. But rogues were always stealth-based characters, with some form of invis/hidden skill, backstabs, trap-finding, lock-picking etc. They were great fun in BG2 for mage-killing, stealthing them to scout ahead of your party and act as a spotter for your mages to open up with a fireball before the enemy could close the gap (friendly fire + ability to scout up ahead of the group without everyone automatically walking their unstealthed asses up behind you + AoE spells = great use for scouting/stealth characters) and opening the combat with a 5x damage backstab to kill the enemy group's mage before they can react. Felt a LOT more 'rogue' than being another fighter with different animations - I blame MMOs for killing the class.

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