When Dragon Age II Fell Apart

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Bleh. It didn't even take that long for me to dislike DA2. I played a mage. There is one quest where a Templar Captain is being attacked by blood mage abominations. I come to the rescue by throwing electricity and ice from my hands and calling it from the sky. He didn't say anything about it.

A Templar Captain.
Seeing an apostate mage.
And not even bringing it up.

...what.

Doesn't matter if I saved his life. He needed to say something about it. He's a frigging templar captain! Even if it's just "Oh, you're an apostate...but since you saved my life, we'll just pretend I didn't see you shooting lightning from your butt". It's made out to be such a big deal (especially by Hawke's douchebag brother), and by the lore in general, but it's never ever brought up. No one seems to care despite the fact I twirl around a bloody mage staff around town! Gaaah!

Hell, and people say the narratives are good? They were crap! Varric was the only stand out character. Everyone else was, at best, unoffensive. At worst, they were completely one-dimensional.

Unimpressive visuals, re-used visuals, subpar music, pop in enemies, cookie cutter combat...and the ending...dear god. As someone said. Get the friggin town guard. Wipe out both sides. Screw them. Meredith is clearly insane. Mages are clearly corrupted. Scorched earth time. But nooooo...have to pick one side or the other. I absolutely hate when games shoehorn you into that without having the writing to back up WHY those were your only two choices. It's doubly infuriating that it's BioWare that did it.

I'm really sad that they put out such a crap game. I'm going to pick up Mass Effect 3, still. Got to see how it ends, after all. If that ends up being horrible as well, I'll wash my hands of BioWare. It'll obviously not be same company I grew up with.

Mirrorknight:
I'm really sad that they put out such a crap game. I'm going to pick up Mass Effect 3, still. Got to see how it ends, after all. If that ends up being horrible as well, I'll wash my hands of BioWare. It'll obviously not be same company I grew up with.

That's pretty much how I feel about the situation. If ME 3 turns out to be a disappointment, it'll be safe to say that EA has officially sodomized Bioware to death.

I didn't like it, Skyrim and Dark Souls were better. A lot better. I don't understand why people still talk about this piece of shit. It wasn't good then so why does anybody expect it to get better as time goes on. It's not a bottle of wine.

But you're right, narration should never takes precedence over mechanics. Ever. Mechanics are the soul of a game. It comes first.

RJ 17:

VeneratedWulfen93:
DA 2 is an example of one of the few times a will whole heartedly agree with Yahtzee. I don't know the exact quote but it goes omething like " a sequel has to be bigger than the original" Correct me if im wrong ill edit it or something.

DA 2 story was unfocused and only hinted at an overarching plot towards the end. I found the Quanari more interesting than growing tensions between Templar and Mage. Anyway back to my point. Dragon Age: origns plot was focused and always there: Defeat the arch demon and stop the blight a possible world ravaging disaster. Nearly every part of DA: O was raising an army or some other means to combat said evil invasion and an evil invasion of twisted monstrosities is a bigger deal (in my opinion) to wheter the poor mages have there ickle freedom ( I might have considered siding with them if Anders wasn't as zealous as Meridith if not more so).

All in all DA: 2 feels down graded in the story department its not as epic, sweeping or moving, its just some guy/girl piddling about in a city for awhile. The characters are still fantastic though (aside from Merrill and Anders)

I have heard that argument a number of times, that the story seemed "unfocused", "without purpose", that - as you said - "it's just some guy/girl piddling about in a city for a while". To that I remind people that that's actually what the story is /supposed/ to be like. You're not a Grey Warden, you're not out to raise an army to overthrow a tyrannical usurper to the thrown while also fighting back a world devouring evil. You're just a single person who fled The Blight. The story of DA 2 is the story of Hawke's life in Kirkwall. You arrive as a nobody who can't even enter the city, so you sign up with some thieves or mercs just to get in. After a year or so, Hawke finds himself/herself in need of money so he/she joins up with an expedition. Striking it rich on this expedition, he/she is able to catipult himself/herself up the social ladder to being an aristocrat, if not an out-right noble. Now being someone of mild importance, Hawke finds himself/herself mixed up with the Qunari threat. In the eyes of the Ari'shok, Hawke is the only worthy human in the entire city, and as such he challenges him/her to single combat to decide the City's fate. Upon defeating the Ari'shok and saving the city, Hawke officially becomes one of, if not THE most important person in the city. Given that Hawke is now essentially the #1 peace-keeper, it falls to him/her to resolve the mage/templar situation.

In short, that's what the story of DA 2 is supposed to be. It is nothing more than Hawke's life playing out in Kirkwall, the story of how a refugee goes from being a bottom feeder to the single most important person in the city (even becoming Vicount if you play your cards right). You can't fault it for being "unfocused" or "without purpose" because indeed there is no over-arching goal. Hawke never wanted to become the Champion, it just happened. Hawke never wanted to get mixed up in the mage and templar situation, it just happened. Cest la vie.

I understand the story, the point is that in DA: 2 Hawke is champion of Kirkwall...one city. DA: O you save an entire country and become the Hero of Ferelden. Impacting a country is more world changing than one city. My point still stands that DA: 2 is of a smaller scale over a longer period of time hence: sequels should go up not down

I entirely agree with this article. I'd just like to add that not only do the people you side with prove to be wrong after all, but the other side proves to be wrong as well. Side with the Templars? Well Meredith is insane, but you kill Orsino as well. Side with the Mages? Well, Orsino is insane, but you kill Meredith as well.

What the hell, it makes no sense and runs totally counter to the whole dichotomy thing the game kept nagging you about. Although there are choices in Dragon Age 2, there is only one ending, and that sucks.

Hm.

I liked Dragon Age 2 despite its oft-cited repetitive dungeons (although after 150 plus hours in Skyrim I'm starting to get mighty sick of 'hey look, another group of rogue mages/draugr/bandits/forsworn! Yay...'), and I also agree that the story did feel like it was sort of snatched out of my hands at the end. It annoyed me, as did (as someone else here has mentioned) knowing exactly what Anders was up to and not having the option to prevent it)

But then I was thinking a little more about it, and I came to the realisation that the lack of control at the end (for want of another way to put the problem), was actually pretty decent storytelling on its own. We get used, in videogames, whether playing as a good character or a bad one, to always coming out on top and having everyone listen to us. For most of Dragon Age, this happens...

..Then at the end, suddenly it's revealed that when things get down to the wire and tensions reach a head, sometimes people won't behave rationally any more, will show their true colours, will get paranoid and suspicious and turn on their friends, will do awful things in desperation, and all of a sudden, just wearing the shiny armor doesn't mean anyone is interested in actually listening to you or taking your advice.

I agree that perhaps there might have been a more elegant way to do it, but I think (whether it was intentional or not on Bioware's part!) that a sense of frustration and lack of control, of reversal and betrayal, at the end of Dragon Age 2 actually matched the stuff that was going down perfectly. Sometimes, the shit just hits the fan, and there ain't nothing you can do about it

*phew* Sorry for the wall o' text...also I see that a few people above me have kind of said a similar thing...

VeneratedWulfen93:

RJ 17:

VeneratedWulfen93:
Big Snip

Bigger Snip

I understand the story, the point is that in DA: 2 Hawke is champion of Kirkwall...one city. DA: O you save an entire country and become the Hero of Ferelden. Impacting a country is more world changing than one city. My point still stands that DA: 2 is of a smaller scale over a longer period of time hence: sequels should go up not down

If that's your logic, then apparently you didn't fully understand the ending for DA 2. The events of Kirkwall at whih Hawke was at the very center changed the course of the entire world, not just a single country. Thanks to what happened in Kirkwall, there is now essentially a civil war raging across Thadeas as the Mages rebel against their Templar masters. By your own logic, the story of Kirkwall has an VASTLY greater impact than the story of Fereldin.

That said, it's entirely possible that you just didn't like the story, which I can understand fully. As I pointed out, DA 2 is nothing but "Days in the life of Hawke", what shinanigans will he/she get up to now? I'm just saying that if your biggest complaint is that the story just seemed much smaller (which, in the context of the game itself as you play it, I can understand), that's simply an incorrect notion seeing as how the entire reason that Varric is being interogated by the inquisitor (or whoever that lesbian is) during the narrative portions of the story is because what happened in Kirkwall caused all hell to break loose across the entire world. :P

But like I said, purely in the context of game-play story, you are 100% correct. Hawke's rise to Champion is much less grand a story than The Grey Warden's rise to commander of an army (which can potentially enlist Golems and Werewolves, hellz yeah!) that marches in an epic battle against Sauron's orcs....I mean The Darkspawn. But in terms of the story's over-all impact on the fantasy world of Thadeas, Hawke's story had a VASTLY greater impact.

TwistedEllipses:

1. Fight no-one. Hawke would just walk away and leave them to it. This would be a massive anti-climax. Good in a narrative sense, but awful in a gameplay sense.

You know, The Bard's Tale (2000s version) let you do just that. Side with uptight bigot druids or evil world-destroying goddess? Stuff that! I'm going to walk away and go get drunk with my new undead friends while the world goes to hell!

I did like that.

A problem with RPGs, and it's a hard problem to avoid, is when you're "in the role", whenever something comes up that gives a limit to your choices and none of those choices are the choices you'd make, the roleplaying illusion is shattered.

My Hawke would not side with the Templars OR the Mages. She was neutral. She choice the good of the whole city over any faction. Yet I got pigeon-holed into making a choice that, if I was REALLY making Hawke's decisions, I would have picked a third, differing option that sided with neither.

DA2, as a whole, was not a bad game, but it was vastly "unsatisfying" in many regards. It was clutter without clarity and busyness without purpose. You were less a champion, hero, or influential leader as you were just an under-appreciated janitor cleaning up Kirkwall's mess.

The game ended with little resolution, nothing felt finished, nothing felt satisfying, and everything was left in a state of ambiguity for very little reason. It was NOT "my journey", as Bioware games tend to be, but rather it was the journey they forced upon me that I endured, including a conclusion that was entirely divorced from my actions and philosophies.

It was the same problem Deus Ex: Human Revolution had with its boss fights; they broke the flow, they didn't fit my character's mold, and they forced me down a path my roleplaying choices would never have gone down. DA2 only did it on a much larger scale.

RJ 17:

VeneratedWulfen93:

RJ 17:
Bigger Snip

I understand the story, the point is that in DA: 2 Hawke is champion of Kirkwall...one city. DA: O you save an entire country and become the Hero of Ferelden. Impacting a country is more world changing than one city. My point still stands that DA: 2 is of a smaller scale over a longer period of time hence: sequels should go up not down

If that's your logic, then apparently you didn't fully understand the ending for DA 2. The events of Kirkwall at whih Hawke was at the very center changed the course of the entire world, not just a single country. Thanks to what happened in Kirkwall, there is now essentially a civil war raging across Thadeas as the Mages rebel against their Templar masters. By your own logic, the story of Kirkwall has an VASTLY greater impact than the story of Fereldin.

That said, it's entirely possible that you just didn't like the story, which I can understand fully. As I pointed out, DA 2 is nothing but "Days in the life of Hawke", what shinanigans will he/she get up to now? I'm just saying that if your biggest complaint is that the story just seemed much smaller (which, in the context of the game itself as you play it, I can understand), that's simply an incorrect notion seeing as how the entire reason that Varric is being interogated by the inquisitor (or whoever that lesbian is) during the narrative portions of the story is because what happened in Kirkwall caused all hell to break loose across the entire world. :P

But like I said, purely in the context of game-play story, you are 100% correct. Hawke's rise to Champion is much less grand a story than The Grey Warden's rise to commander of an army (which can potentially enlist Golems and Werewolves, hellz yeah!) that marches in an epic battle against Sauron's orcs....I mean The Darkspawn. But in terms of the story's over-all impact on the fantasy world of Thadeas, Hawke's story had a VASTLY greater impact.

I think I understand what both of you are trying to say, but what VeneratedWulfen93 is trying to say is that it should be in chronological order. Sure the events in Kirkwall triggered something huge, so that is the start of a chain reaction, but by calling the game Dragon Age 2 and having it like a prequel to other bigger events it seems kind of the wrong way round. People I guess are just more expecting things to get bigger as we go along, more in the Batman and Mass Effect type of things, without writing yourself into a corner.

I also enjoyed the more personal and character-centric story in the little town of Kirkwall, but I also think this could have come before the epic events that went down in Ferelden. It is a bit of a convention I'll admit, like many other big trilogies in movies (Star Wars, LOTR, etc)

Wilhelm Figge:

ImSkeletor:
[quote="bjj hero" post="6.338796.13710153"]

He was not complaining about it not being black and white. He was mad that if he choses the mages they are evil and the templars are good. If he picks the templars they are evil and the mages are good. The mages should either become abominations neither way or both ways or else it doesn't make any sense.

But that isn't even the case. Whichever side you pick, Orsino becomes an Abomination (Harvester, actually) and in both cases Meredith is insane and you have to kill her. You only encounter blood mages in the gallows (aside from Orsino) if you sided with the templars.

Sorry then. Must have miss read the article or something. Feel a little stupid now.

JohnnyDelRay:

RJ 17:

VeneratedWulfen93:

I understand the story, the point is that in DA: 2 Hawke is champion of Kirkwall...one city. DA: O you save an entire country and become the Hero of Ferelden. Impacting a country is more world changing than one city. My point still stands that DA: 2 is of a smaller scale over a longer period of time hence: sequels should go up not down

If that's your logic, then apparently you didn't fully understand the ending for DA 2. The events of Kirkwall at whih Hawke was at the very center changed the course of the entire world, not just a single country. Thanks to what happened in Kirkwall, there is now essentially a civil war raging across Thadeas as the Mages rebel against their Templar masters. By your own logic, the story of Kirkwall has an VASTLY greater impact than the story of Fereldin.

That said, it's entirely possible that you just didn't like the story, which I can understand fully. As I pointed out, DA 2 is nothing but "Days in the life of Hawke", what shinanigans will he/she get up to now? I'm just saying that if your biggest complaint is that the story just seemed much smaller (which, in the context of the game itself as you play it, I can understand), that's simply an incorrect notion seeing as how the entire reason that Varric is being interogated by the inquisitor (or whoever that lesbian is) during the narrative portions of the story is because what happened in Kirkwall caused all hell to break loose across the entire world. :P

But like I said, purely in the context of game-play story, you are 100% correct. Hawke's rise to Champion is much less grand a story than The Grey Warden's rise to commander of an army (which can potentially enlist Golems and Werewolves, hellz yeah!) that marches in an epic battle against Sauron's orcs....I mean The Darkspawn. But in terms of the story's over-all impact on the fantasy world of Thadeas, Hawke's story had a VASTLY greater impact.

It is a bit of a convention I'll admit, like many other big trilogies in movies (Star Wars, LOTR, etc)

That's actually what I was going to say in response to the first part of your statement, so I'll just expand on it a little. In many trilogies these days, the 2nd installment is used as a bit of a transition. It is used as a device to move the story along to the final climactic chapter. That's how it was in Empire Strikes Back, that's how it was in Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, that's actually how it was in Halo 2 and Gears of War 2. All of the above have some sort of epic ending (well, except Halo 2, but that game still serves the purpose of moving the story along :P) in their own right, but lead to a much grander conflict just around the corner. Hawke's battle with Meredith and subsequent disappearance can easily be equated to Jack Sparrow getting eaten by the kraken. Now a lot of people didn't like Dead Man's Chest, so that might not be the best example for me to use in trying to justify the ending of DA 2. :P

As for the chronology of the games, Hawke's story takes place half during the events of DAO and half after. Hawke would never have had to go to Kirkwall in the first place if The Blight hadn't chased him/her there.

It feel apart somewhere in DA 1.....

I'm going to wholeheartedly disagree.

Unlike games with moral choice systems which boil down to "you're either a decent guy, or the pure incarnation of evil", DAII gave you two equally valid choices: support the mages, generally, or support the templars, generally. It was possible to try to walk a middle path, but events eventually force you to "leap" off of your comfortable ledge (as Flemeth described it). Is it entirely illogical to believe that someone who is investigating a rebellion is working for the person against whom they are rebelling? Probably not, especially in the context of a rebellion in a repressive city. And Ander's choice at the end forces that choice even more directly.

The objection by the author seems to be that both sides are filled with jackasses. But, that's how it goes pretty often. When you play Knights of the Old Republic, and the only way to actually be Sith is to be a gigantic dick, that's not good storytelling, especially compared to the "just don't be a douchebag" light side path. Nor is it really valid for both sides to be perfectly noble from top to bottom.

Instead, you were offered two choices, neither of which were "right" because both were wrong. Mages, when backed into a corner, really were willing to use blood magic. Meredith really was dictatorial and a bit crazy.

Incidentally, that's what tragedy actually is. It's not in making the answer easy (jedi good, sith evil), nor in making it immaterial because both sides are fundamentally good. It's about forcing someone to choose between two bad options.

And, not for nothing, but for everyone saying "I'd have picked a third option" please remember two things: no video game can offer you every possible option, and in life sometimes thhere is no third option.

Susan Arendt:

ccdohl:
Also there's the addition of the craptastic dialogue wheel, lack of race choice, lack of aesthetic customization in companions, reused areas, those quests where you would find an item and bring it to some random person for some reason, and the goofy departure from the aesthetic of the first game. All of which make the game a huge step backwards from its predecessor.

Let's not forget those problems.

The reused areas and piddly little fetch quests were fairly lame, but the lack of changes to the companions didn't bother me a bit. I thought it was actually an interesting departure from the norm, really.

Okay. It bothered me. I do see the point of it though. Unique looks for companions mean that we aren't stuck with a single body type that fits all the armor and, instead, we get a unique looking set of dudes to have our back. A good alternative would have been to have a few sets of gear that fit the the companions' gear slots that, while keeping them unique looking, allows us to vary their outfit some. Bonus points if there is different gear for different builds.

I'd prefer to be able to put any gear on my companions personally, but the unique looks for them is okay too. Except for Isabela, she just looked silly.

RJ 17:
Great article filled with perfectly valid points.

Another that I would bring up is how hard it is to have any sympathy for the Mages at all. You're supposed to feel sorry for the as they're locked up like prisoners in a building that actually used to be a prison. Meredith enacts the harshest of all punishments, Tranquilization, a fate that would be considered infinitely worse than death itself for even the slights of infractions. Annnnnnnnnnnnd yet every - single - mage you encounter is a blood mage. Even the quest where you're trying to find a young mage boy who has apparently been kidnapped by slavers, you go to a werehouse out in the docks and find the slavers ganging up on a poor mage girl who's begging for help....then just up and turns into an abomination. It's really hard to say "Yeah, the Templars are definitely being too harsh on these poor mages" when it certainly seems that everything the Templars say is true. Orsino is the only level-headed mage you encounter in the entire game, and even HE turns out to be a blood mage/abomination in the end. True, the Lyrium Idol that Meredith had forged into her great sword clearly drove her insane the way it drove Varric's brother insane...people said "Meredith has gone mad! She sees blood magic everywhere!" Well maybe that's because Kirkwall is filled with blood mages! I mean hell, you yourself have the option of becoming a blood mage, and yet NO ONE EVER CALLS YOU ON IT! Everyone in your party knows that blood magic is a terrible, evil thing, and yet every time you slit your own throat or impale yourself on your staff to draw blood for the blood magic, everyone just kinda....looks the other way. I mean hell, you can put on a full show of blood magic in front of every noble in the city when you have the duel against the Ari'shok (spelling), but apparently you're the Champion so using magic that is absolutely 10,000% forbidden by Templars AND Mages is alright.

There's that quest where a mage-sympathizing Templar calls you out to a cave and says "A bunch of escaped mages are hiding in here. If I go in they'll think I'm there to arrest them, but I want you to go in and help them escape before the rest of the Templars get here." Once you reach the end, the mages beg for their lives at which point you can either turn them over to the Templars or indeed let them all go. The thing is it makes absolutely no difference which choice you make because you see those same mages again in the next act. If you turned them over to the Templars, they're understandably pissed off at you. If you let them go, apparently within a couple days they were captured again and they immediately blame you for it...which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And, sure enough, they all turn out to be blood mages anyways and they all end up dying by your hand on the Wounded Coast. That being the case, why couldn't you have the choice to kill them all in the cave to begin with? "Oh because those are the mages that end up kidnapping your sibling in the final act." Yeah, well I took Anders with me to the Deep Roads so my sibling neither died nor joined the circle/templars, he/she got to live on as a member of the Grey Wardens.

Which brings up the subject of Anders himself. Clearly he is an extremist, as crazy of a mage as Meredith is crazy as a templar. Why in god's name do you trust a person who is clearly possessed? Granted, you're given the option to either not take him or kick him out of the party any time you wish, but it makes no difference. He still flips out and blows up the church. If you side with the Templars, you should immediately see that he is an abomination and either turn him in or kill him on sight. If you side with the Mages, you should see that he is clearly a danger to everyone around him and to the Mage's cause and either turn him in or kill him on sight. The blame for the church getting kerploded in what is apparently the fantasy equivalent of a magical nuclear bomb lies at the feet of Hawke for not doing something about Anders sooner. Just because I hate extremism in any form, Anders was my least favorite character and thus least used character (which kinda sucks since he's supposed to be your healer :P), but that said I did like how if you bring him to the Deep Roads with you your sibling gets to join the Grey Wardens rather than dying of the Blight or, if you left them back at home, joining the Circle or Templars. Also I liked how if you take him with you on that quest where you enter the Dreamwalker's dream, he actually turns into Justice.

There were numerous other problems with the story, but all in all I thought it was pulled off well. I really liked how the story was actually told as a story, one of Varric's legends and tales. It makes the games narrative an actual narrative. To be honest, I had my own problems and nit-picks with the story (such as what I mentioned about it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere when there IS blood magic everywhere) and this article has added some new ones to the list. But in the end I still liked the story. Though another reason the ending sucked was that it really didn't matter which side you chose, you still end up killing all the mages and Meredith, so that kinda blows.

But hey, at least Bioware managed to 1-up themselves as far as creating a character that was sexier than Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins. Mmmmmmmmm.....Isabella...the dirty pirate hooker..... :3

For all the tl-dr losers out there, here's the short version: It's hard to sympathize with the mages, it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere since there is blood magic everywhere, another couple exmaples of choices that make no difference which one you choose, no matter how you look at it Anders should have been killed or imprisoned the moment you met him, and Isabella is a sexy, dirty little pirate hooker. :P

I actually find it quite easy to to sympathize with the Mages. First of all not all of the Mages you run into are Blood Mages. Second, I'm under the impression that not all the mages who do turn to blood magic to so out of of some evil intention to enslave the world around them. Some turn to blood magic as a means of obtaining freedom or even as a means of defending themselves against the Templars, some of which don't even view mages as human beings and causally perform the tranquil rite (remember that one templar who wanted to make all mages tranquil. Now regardless of how you feel about the Circle of magi in general, you have to admit that the one in Kirkwall is the worst example of how one should be run. IMO, the circle of magi should be more like a boarding school not a prison camp. Now this doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the Templars at all, because there are those who abuse magic, but its also hard to sympathize when some of their actions are pushing the Mages towards drastic measures.

Now I feel that there is something else that I should point out and it might make my previous argument a bit moot. You may not recall, but in the game there is an achievement I believe is called the "Scholar" and it involves searching for these journal entries left behind by a group called the "Band of Three". Now while I don't believe that every mage in Kirkwall is a blood mage I do have to admit that you do seem to run into a lot of blood mages/abominations. In one of the journal entries the "Band of Three" mention that the veil (the barrier separating the real world from the fade) in Kirkwall is unusually thin which would make it easy for demons to enter the real would and posses people without any help from mages. This mean that some of the mages you run into (like the one in the warehouse at the dock) may not even be blood mages or at least not by their own free will. What's even more surprising is that there is a strong chance that some in the Chantry do know about how thin the veil is. If there is one fault I have with the game it's that they did not make the "Band of Three" part of the main quest, because it actually has some very interesting details to add to the story as a whole.

Zetatrain:

RJ 17:
Snip

I actually find it quite easy to to sympathize with the Mages. First of all not all of the Mages you run into are Blood Mages. Second, I'm under the impression that not all the mages who do turn to blood magic to so out of of some evil intention to enslave the world around them. Some turn to blood magic as a means of obtaining freedom or even as a means of defending themselves against the Templars, some of which don't even view mages as human beings and causally perform the tranquil rite (remember that one templar who wanted to make all mages tranquil. Now regardless of how you feel about the Circle of magi in general, you have to admit that the one in Kirkwall is the worst example of how one should be run. IMO, the circle of magi should be more like a boarding school not a prison camp. Now this doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the Templars at all, because there are those who abuse magic, but its also hard to sympathize when some of their actions are pushing the Mages towards drastic measures.

Fair enough, perhaps it would be better if I said "the vast majority" of mages you encounter are blood mages. Here's the thing, though, I'm not one who believes that the ends justify the means. Due to Meredith's tyranny, a mage uprising was sure to come. However according to Dragon Age lore: mages can only be taught blood magic my bargaining with demons. It's not like you can open a book and learn the spell Hemorage, you have to be taught it by a demon. That's how it was in DA 1, that's how Merill learned her blood magic, so it's safe to assume that every blood mage you encounter (and by the end of the game I'm pretty sure there are blood mages running around with the common street gangs). This is why blood magic is absolutely forbidden. Judging by your opinion, I'm guessing you think that Anders was right and well justified in blowing up the Chantry, right? Mages turn to blood magic not specifically so they can control the world or have evil plots, they do it because they want more power. In this case they want the power to fight against the Templars, fair enough, but they're still using magic that is - according to DA lore - fundamentally evil and demonic.

Like I said, I fully understand the plight of the mages. The Circle of Kirkwall is a horrible, horrible place that is governed by a mad-woman who has been enthralled by the Lyrium Idol. I'm just saying that her madness is no justification for damn near every mage turning to demonic magic. In the end her madness proves to be her undoing, as even the Templars turn against her. Had Anders not gone full-blown terrorist and blew up the Chantry, there is a good chance that the Grand Mother (or whatever the head priestess' title is) would have seen that Meredith was going too far and put an end to her reign as Knight Commander. This, of course, is just hypothetical speculation, but of the three most important people in Kirkwall: herself, Meredith, and Orsino, she seemed to be the most level headed about things.

In short, I don't think it's wise for mages to break free of the shackles of the templars by shackling themselves to demons.

As for your second point about the Veil being thin in Kirkwall, yes, I remember that detail. Which brings me to the point that from the beginning of my first playthrough, I never thought it made sense to keep the mages within the city to begin with. I thought the entire point was to completely isolate mages in a Tower set out by itself and away from everyone else so that if the shit ever did hit the fan it could be easily contained and quarentined in the tower, as seen in DA 1. :P

You shouldn't be expecting much from a game that took a year to develop. Everything is a mess.

bjj hero:

Dennis Scimeca:

Dragon Age 2's story is just plain broken.

I loved DA:O but never got around to playing DA2. I hope to at some point. The complaints Ive heard havent put me off I just always have other things to play.

Copy paste dungeons? Well there are plenty of similar buildings thrown up on housing estates etc so is it so far fetched?

You have no idea (How could you you haven't played the game) Everything is copied, the lighting, the furniture, the fish cooking over the fire: its downright bizarre.

Strangely enough the game forgets one dungeon is supposed to be the basement of your own house so it is quite the shock when in act three it turns into the set of the Temple of Doom (One would think your character would notice the 60 foot ceilings and lava pits being installed below his living room.)

bjj hero:

Copy paste dungeons? Well there are plenty of similar buildings thrown up on housing estates etc so is it so far fetched?

It wouldn't be if the dungeons were just similar, as many people who throw around the "copy-paste" term actually mean.

In DA2, though, we're talking about the same 3 or 4 dungeons copy-pasted, exactly. The only variations being walls that suddenly appear out of nowhere in doorways, blocking access to areas you can reach in other dungeons.

RJ 17:

Zetatrain:

RJ 17:
Snip

I actually find it quite easy to to sympathize with the Mages. First of all not all of the Mages you run into are Blood Mages. Second, I'm under the impression that not all the mages who do turn to blood magic to so out of of some evil intention to enslave the world around them. Some turn to blood magic as a means of obtaining freedom or even as a means of defending themselves against the Templars, some of which don't even view mages as human beings and causally perform the tranquil rite (remember that one templar who wanted to make all mages tranquil. Now regardless of how you feel about the Circle of magi in general, you have to admit that the one in Kirkwall is the worst example of how one should be run. IMO, the circle of magi should be more like a boarding school not a prison camp. Now this doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the Templars at all, because there are those who abuse magic, but its also hard to sympathize when some of their actions are pushing the Mages towards drastic measures.

Fair enough, perhaps it would be better if I said "the vast majority" of mages you encounter are blood mages. Here's the thing, though, I'm not one who believes that the ends justify the means. Due to Meredith's tyranny, a mage uprising was sure to come. However according to Dragon Age lore: mages can only be taught blood magic my bargaining with demons. It's not like you can open a book and learn the spell Hemorage, you have to be taught it by a demon. That's how it was in DA 1, that's how Merill learned her blood magic, so it's safe to assume that every blood mage you encounter (and by the end of the game I'm pretty sure there are blood mages running around with the common street gangs). This is why blood magic is absolutely forbidden. Judging by your opinion, I'm guessing you think that Anders was right and well justified in blowing up the Chantry, right? Mages turn to blood magic not specifically so they can control the world or have evil plots, they do it because they want more power. In this case they want the power to fight against the Templars, fair enough, but they're still using magic that is - according to DA lore - fundamentally evil and demonic.

Like I said, I fully understand the plight of the mages. The Circle of Kirkwall is a horrible, horrible place that is governed by a mad-woman who has been enthralled by the Lyrium Idol. I'm just saying that her madness is no justification for damn near every mage turning to demonic magic. In the end her madness proves to be her undoing, as even the Templars turn against her. Had Anders not gone full-blown terrorist and blew up the Chantry, there is a good chance that the Grand Mother (or whatever the head priestess' title is) would have seen that Meredith was going too far and put an end to her reign as Knight Commander. This, of course, is just hypothetical speculation, but of the three most important people in Kirkwall: herself, Meredith, and Orsino, she seemed to be the most level headed about things.

In short, I don't think it's wise for mages to break free of the shackles of the templars by shackling themselves to demons.

As for your second point about the Veil being thin in Kirkwall, yes, I remember that detail. Which brings me to the point that from the beginning of my first playthrough, I never thought it made sense to keep the mages within the city to begin with. I thought the entire point was to completely isolate mages in a Tower set out by itself and away from everyone else so that if the shit ever did hit the fan it could be easily contained and quarentined in the tower, as seen in DA 1. :P

RJ 17:

Zetatrain:

RJ 17:
Snip

I actually find it quite easy to to sympathize with the Mages. First of all not all of the Mages you run into are Blood Mages. Second, I'm under the impression that not all the mages who do turn to blood magic to so out of of some evil intention to enslave the world around them. Some turn to blood magic as a means of obtaining freedom or even as a means of defending themselves against the Templars, some of which don't even view mages as human beings and causally perform the tranquil rite (remember that one templar who wanted to make all mages tranquil. Now regardless of how you feel about the Circle of magi in general, you have to admit that the one in Kirkwall is the worst example of how one should be run. IMO, the circle of magi should be more like a boarding school not a prison camp. Now this doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the Templars at all, because there are those who abuse magic, but its also hard to sympathize when some of their actions are pushing the Mages towards drastic measures.

Fair enough, perhaps it would be better if I said "the vast majority" of mages you encounter are blood mages. Here's the thing, though, I'm not one who believes that the ends justify the means. Due to Meredith's tyranny, a mage uprising was sure to come. However according to Dragon Age lore: mages can only be taught blood magic my bargaining with demons. It's not like you can open a book and learn the spell Hemorage, you have to be taught it by a demon. That's how it was in DA 1, that's how Merill learned her blood magic, so it's safe to assume that every blood mage you encounter (and by the end of the game I'm pretty sure there are blood mages running around with the common street gangs). This is why blood magic is absolutely forbidden. Judging by your opinion, I'm guessing you think that Anders was right and well justified in blowing up the Chantry, right? Mages turn to blood magic not specifically so they can control the world or have evil plots, they do it because they want more power. In this case they want the power to fight against the Templars, fair enough, but they're still using magic that is - according to DA lore - fundamentally evil and demonic.

Like I said, I fully understand the plight of the mages. The Circle of Kirkwall is a horrible, horrible place that is governed by a mad-woman who has been enthralled by the Lyrium Idol. I'm just saying that her madness is no justification for damn near every mage turning to demonic magic. In the end her madness proves to be her undoing, as even the Templars turn against her. Had Anders not gone full-blown terrorist and blew up the Chantry, there is a good chance that the Grand Mother (or whatever the head priestess' title is) would have seen that Meredith was going too far and put an end to her reign as Knight Commander. This, of course, is just hypothetical speculation, but of the three most important people in Kirkwall: herself, Meredith, and Orsino, she seemed to be the most level headed about things.

In short, I don't think it's wise for mages to break free of the shackles of the templars by shackling themselves to demons.

As for your second point about the Veil being thin in Kirkwall, yes, I remember that detail. Which brings me to the point that from the beginning of my first playthrough, I never thought it made sense to keep the mages within the city to begin with. I thought the entire point was to completely isolate mages in a Tower set out by itself and away from everyone else so that if the shit ever did hit the fan it could be easily contained and quarentined in the tower, as seen in DA 1. :P

Actually, I believe that Anders blowing up the Chantry was very very wrong, because the Grand Cleric, despite her lack of action, was the only one preventing a full blown war from breaking out. I also hate the fact the Anders did it just so that he could get a war. Despite my support for the mages, I believe that the Circle of Magi should be reformed, not abolished like Anders believes. I usually end up siding with the mages in the end, because I don't believe every mage should be killed for the actions of one rogue mage who isn't even part of the Circle. However, I also usually kill Anders, because I can't condone his actions.

With regard to Blood Magic, I actually don't quite see it as inherently evil, just very dangerous. Like Merrill says, "There's nothing inherently evil about blood magic, its magic just like any other". Blood magic is just simply a means to an end and does not automatically make one evil. However, given the amount of risk involved, I agree that blood magic is extremely dangerous and should be heavily restricted if not out right banned.

Zetatrain:
Actually, I believe that Anders blowing up the Chantry was very very wrong, because the Grand Cleric, despite her lack of action, was the only one preventing a full blown war from breaking out. I also hate the fact the Anders did it just so that he could get a war. Despite my support for the mages, I believe that the Circle of Magi should be reformed, not abolished like Anders believes. I usually end up siding with the mages in the end, because I don't believe every mage should be killed for the actions of one rogue mage who isn't even part of the Circle. However, I also usually kill Anders, because I can't condone his actions.

With regard to Blood Magic, I actually don't quite see it as inherently evil, just very dangerous. Like Merrill says, "There's nothing inherently evil about blood magic, its magic just like any other". Blood magic is just simply a means to an end and does not automatically make one evil. However, given the amount of risk involved, I agree that blood magic is extremely dangerous and should be heavily restricted if not out right banned.

And that's what I was trying to say about the Grand Cleric. Given more time for Meredith's madness to fully manifest itself, soon the Grand Cleric would no longer be able to excuse her actions and that would be the final conflict. Things would have gotten worse before getting better, but everyone knew that Meredith was a zealot, and it was only a matter of time before everyone turned against her.

As for blood magic, true, the magic itself isn't inherently evil...but you skipped over the fact that I brought up mentioning that blood magic isn't learned by traditional means. According to Dragon Age lore, it can only be taught/obtained by making pacts with demons. Merill's dark secret wasn't that she's a blood mage, it was the fact that she made a pact with a demon, and look how that ended up: you end up having to kill the tribes Keeper because of Merill's mistake. She made the bargain with the noblest of intentions: wanting to restore an ancient part of her people's heritage. But what was the end result: the death of her beloved mentor and, if you don't play things right, her entire tribe. So again, there isn't anything inherently evil with blood magic, but consorting with demons NEVER ends well. More so than the fact that blood magic requires life energy to work, it is forbidden because it requires consorting with demons.

I agree with this about the ending. The Ending was horrible because its a lose lose situation. (as stated in the article) Choose to help the Mages, they go crazy, and use blood magic. Help the templars, Meredith goes crazy, and attacks you. I think had the game actually let you have an ending where your choice let you "win" the game would be alot better. I really like DA2, and didn't mind the copy paste levels. I only complaint was the ending, and the Qunari part which I thought was just stupid.

While I did begin to notice Origin's superiority after a while, I still like DA2, and felt that it should have had a middle ground.

ms_sunlight:

Undead Dragon King:

If the game had depicted that one side was clearly in the right and lorded it over the other faction whether you allied with them or not, that would be problematic storytelling. However, since the leaders of both factions are revealed to be inherently evil at the end, I think it was a refreshing look at the "no way you can come out of this smelling like a rose" ending.

This. I absolutely loved the ending - both sides are rotten, both choices are a compromise, and neither side will let you abstain from choosing.

The last act showed a city spiralling out of control into fanaticism and violence, and how can one person, even a Champion, stop that? Gamers are so used to being the Chosen One who gets to be all-powerful and decide how everything pans out. The real world isn't like that; DA2 chose to show that fantasy worlds don't have to be like that either.

Exactly. I liked that both Orsino and Meredith had reasons for their stances, and some of those reasons were justifiable. But both turned out to be evil. Not in the take-over-the-world, torture children and puppies, and cackle at the suffering others that usually represents "evil" in fantasy RPGs. But in their mutual descents into fanaticism and blindness to alternatives, culminating in an "end justifies the means" mentality. I did find the final "boss" fights with Meredith and Orsino rather silly, but attribute that more to pressure from the devs on the writers.

As for "Best Served Cold", well yeah, I thought kidnapping Bethany was the dumbest thing those conspirators could have done, but in the real world, sometimes people do the stupid thing. Especially if they're paranoid and desperate. World War I started because a driver made a wrong turn and happened to drive by the deli where Princip was eating lunch.

Did I think the story was perfect? Not at all. The framing device aspect with Varric could have been used a whole lot better. I didn't think so much time needed to pass between Acts: 12-18 months between Acts 1 and 2 and 6-12 months between Acts 2 and 3 would have been more than enough. Obviously rushing the game took its toll: the Qunari uprising in the climax of Act 2 should have left some permanent mark on the city, even having a few buildings rebuild to look different. Orsino and Meredith should have had some screen time in Act 2, to show them in a slightly more reasonable light in contrast with their zeal in Act 3. This article redeemed a lot of the overall plot for me, however.

What irks me is all the hatred for DA2's story, while you rarely hear the same level of criticism of Mass Effect 2's story, which has similar--if not worse--problems.

Shepard is killed at the very beginning, for reasons that don't really make sense. S/he is resurrected 2 years later--for reasons that also don't really make sense--by the crazy domestic terrorist Militia Movement IN SPACE that has somehow become a cross between Blackwater and COBRA. You have no choice but to work for them, you only get to decide how pissed off you are about it.

Half your crew from ME1 are still with you, having decided to quit the military and work for a terrorist organization. In the 2 years you've been dead, the Citadel is trying to pretend the Reapers aren't real even though half their fleet was destroyed by one, so your efforts in ME1 don't mean much in ME2 (it only really affects which NPCs from ME1 show up). People are angry at you for being dead for 2 years (not your fault) and for working with Cerberus (the game doesn't give you a choice). All of the main story missions in ME2 involve the Idiot Ball passing between Shepard, the Citadel, Illusive Man, Miranda, Ashley/Kaidan, and the Collectors.

(In contrast, the recruitment and loyalty missions range from pretty good to frackin' amazing. Really, anything not having to do with Cerberus is pretty awesome.)

They really play up the "suicide" mission at the end, but ultimately your success doesn't boil down to any difficult character decisions. Rather it hinges on 1) whether you played the planet-probing mini-game long enough to fully upgrade your ship, 2) whether you took the time to do loyalty missions, and 3) whether you picked reasonably competent squad members for the appropriate jobs. At the end, you make an important decision, where you're allowed to pick from the moronic choice and the idiotic choice. So at the end of Mass Effect 2, we've learned that the Reapers are coming to destroy all life--which we already knew at the end of Mass Effect 1. So what was the point?

It wasn't until act 3 that Dragon Age 2 fell apart for you?

Wow, I mean wow, this is either willing suspension of disbelief in full effect or a testament to how good your drugs were.

Dragon Age 2 fell apart immediately for me when I realized that the middle option on the dialog wheel wasn't "neutral"

I started off picking "good" options because I was dealing with my family then when the Templar guy shows up I don't want to be good to him because my sister's a mage so I pick the middle option and I find out that instead of Neutral it's Goofball. So there's no way to alter your responses to fit the situation. The personalities are so polarized that they might as well have had 3 different voice actors read the lines. So your first option picks your personality and then you're stuck with that unless you suffer the jarring out of character moment of your usually soft spoken Hawke either cracking a wildly inappropriate joke or being a major asshole for no reason.

Dragon Age 2 isn't just bad. To merely be a bad game would be disappointing, but then all I have to do is return the game be done with it. No Dragon Age 2 committed the grievous sin of killing it's own franchise with how awfully bad it was, and worse than that, it was a game with no soul, no charm, no substance.

DA2 was constantly sold as both your rise to power in the city of Kirkwall and a game where your choices would shape the city, and BOTH of these wound up being false. "But wait" you go "Hawke becomes the champion and, in one ending, the viscount, isn't that rising to power?" well no, no it isn't. See the rise to power indicates a struggle, something you have to fight through to achieve said power, and always more satisfying when you planned it. But Dragon Age 2?

Okay in the first act you stumble across dwarven treasure, get 6 Soverigns from it and a nice house in the Noble district. Nothing through out the chapter made any damn difference to that though, all that happened was wave after wave of trash and fetch que-HAHAHAHA no. See Dragon Age 2 can't even do fetch quests right, every quest has at least 10 waves of Dog Lords for you to kill.

Okay so you became noble, after one quest, and nothings changed. Oh wait your Siblings missing, you have the ability to slightly alter why, but never to keep them from disappearing. In act 2, again NOTHING you do has any baring on 'rising to power' you're still running murder quests for everyone.

Oh and side deviation, don't you just love it when someone approaches Hawke for a job, and then you can respond "I'll help you, for a price" NO FUCKING SHIT FOR A PRICE, HE'S OFFERING A JOB YOU ANNOYING FUCKSTICK! I have never hated my protagonist more than any time Hawke opened his stupid blathering mouth, Good, Wacky or Evil options he ALWAYS sounded like a retard.

Anyway, back to act 2, the only moment of importance is A. your mother dies, can't change this. B. The qunari attack the city then leave.

See the last one is the weird part, it's a common trope that you can not 'Thwart stage 1' which means you can't stop the conflict from beginning, because otherwise the game is too short. Except We're 2/3rds of the way through the fucking game, stage 1 should not be occurring NOW! and no matter how you settle shit with the qunari, either through diplomacy or combat, you are always made champion of the city.

Fucking AYE, I earned this how? what was my drive for doing this again? I don't care about these asshats. Kirkwall needs to burn to the ground.
image
I guarantee you are doing the planet a favor

I'm going to expound on a little love I have for a lesser known game, Way of the Samurai 3. See almost immediately after you start up the game, you're informed that if you kill every single 'save point' you can no longer save the game. The point was the game pretty much said "Do what you want" and fucked off then and there leaving me able to do anything I wanted... including TURNING AROUND AND LEAVING THE GAME. Seriously you can just walk out the province and the game ends. Everything I did in WotS3 I did for me, everything had a change on the worldscape. Hell if you continue doing the one quest of 'Find an old ladies underwear' the NPCs eventually comment that the old lady goes and hides her underwear, simply to give you something to do! BEST WRPG I've played in... oh wait WotS3 is Japanese... oh well!
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Way of the Samurai 4 is coming out in Europe this year, PS3 is region free so import it

Anyway, Act 3 is when you finally start getting some choice, and they are the best choices in the game by far. "Uh... what?" you ask, "Didn't you just get done saying this game has no choice?" yes I did, what I mean is it doesn't have any choice that does what it promised to do. There are a few choices in this game.

KILLING OFF YOUR FUCKING ASSHOLE PARTY MEMBERS! I gotta tell you after hours of this shit I was giddy beyond belief. Let me cover just how much fun it was to send Fenris the emo brooding git wasting Gideon Emerys voice off with his master, dooming him to be a slave. Stabbing Anders the terrorist traitor fuck in his stupid whinging face, Siding with the Templars, so Varric and Aveline would stick by me, while I got to kill Isabella dirty slut who likes sex (because she's a whore, that's her character) and Merrill the retarded ~KAWAII UGUU~ blood mage because they sided with the Blood Mages (There are no mages in Kirkwall, only Blood Mages)
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SPOILER ALERT: MAGES ARE RETARDS

And I REVELED in it, I hated these fuckers, every single one of them was an exercise in pain and frustration, annoying me at every turn and making me wish I could just cut them down and be done with their shit. AND THEN DA2 ACTUALLY LET ME GET RID OF MOST OF THEM! I mean sure I've still stuck with Aveline, but besides her retarded personal quest she was pretty chill, and Varric is completely unoffensive! BUT THE ANNOYING ONES WERE ALL DEAD!
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AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA

Ahem... anyway, the only other choice in the game is "Be viscount for a week and then run off" or "Run off" because siding with the templars and blood mages just leads to the exact same god damn scenario. Hell it leads to the same ENDING!

Remember in Dragon Age Origins where they did the Black Isle/Obsidian style ending where they went over how your actions would have far reaching effects for people and places, further proving that your choices, while not exactly immediate, did have an effect on the world?

Right well DA2 doesn't do that. What DA2 does is give you the SAME DAMN ENDING but throws in a "Oh and Hawke left with *Love Interest* of course" of course I killed all of them so Varric just bugged out and paired me with the brain damaged retarded elf.
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If I hadn't come to Sundermount you would still be a fucking idiot!

But worst of all, isn't just that your rise to power isn't really there, but that your existence in the plot is pointless.

Remember how Darkspawn Chronicles showed that "Well without the Warden everyone would have died after having to compromise their morals"? well DA2 is like that... except not. If you have never come along, the Lyrium Idol would never have been dug up, and maybe the Qunari would be assholes and Kirkwall would have suffered, but it would have been rebuilt. The events of the game? besides you activating the plot switch of the lyrium idol? which can be done by Varric alone mind you? they don't need you.

Kirkwall doesn't need you.

And that was why DA2 was pointless, because your choices didn't make a damn difference, because really without you, nothing changes. And the funny thing is Bioware confirms this at the end of the game! "Oh the champion was just in the wrong place at the wrong time" You were NEVER a hero, just an errand boy. It's one thing to not save the world, like I said I love Way of the Samurai 3 and I can turn around and walk out the door without a problem the game doesn't mind. But I could make my mark on that province. That is choice, that it player agency. And THAT is why DA2 failed, because ultimately you didn't matter, and if you don't matter then why the hell are you here?

And people are going to jump in "Well I personally felt connected to useless NPC etc. etc." well I didn't. I struggle to pick the evil options in games even when just to do something like unlock the Blood Mage specialization because at heart I'm someone who doesn't like to commit evil acts. And yet I didn't feel the same sort of sickness killing my party as I did in DA:O condemning a little boy to being the slave of a demon and killing his mother. I just felt giddy because they were done annoying me.

Dragon Age: Origins was not a perfect game, but it was a pretty good game, their was potential for greatness. The setting was generic but it was the harmless kind of generic the same "Okay yeah easy to understand lets jump right in" that 'generic' fantasy uses. Not very original but not making my eyes bleed.

Dragon Age 2? killed it. Stone Fucking Dead

And you want to know the most annoying part? They didn't learn from it! Those smug assholes acted like they created a work of fucking art when the player base was reeling and puking from the shame of having to have played the hunk of shit. You make the worst game of 2011 by FAR, and yet they have the gall to say "Well you're just not able to understand how DEEP it is"

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Guess which art style they decided was better

you know just a few weeks ago I replayed Medarot: Metabee Version for the gameboy advanced, a linear JRPG about 10 year olds, was still better written than this slog, hell the two romance options (yes romance options for kids) were both better choices than anyone in DA2

Well I've made it my new years resolution to stop getting pissed off at this piece of shit (and to burn it and salt the earth where it's ashes are scattered) but where else am I going to get a game that handles a small scale introspection of the self when compared to it's predecessor which was about saving the whole damn world from imminent world ending catastrophy?

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.Hack//G.U. handles the issue of Pansexuality, split personalities, suicidal depression, the basic human desire to help people, and does it all without giving you the healing penis

Oh hey.

beginning of this article almost had me stop reading, but as I read on I was enthralled

can't say the story actually bothered me that much. I kind of just, as a general policy towards the world, assume everyone's an idiot and can't actually expect people to be rational or not a complete arse to me lol

jezcentral:
@1337mokro

Sorry to be that guy but, technically, R&J is not a tragedy, just a tale of woe. :)

Tragedy requires a "fatal flaw" in the protagonist, that ends up destroying them. MacBeth, King Lear, Hamlet and Othello are tragedies. (Love for his wife, pride, indecision and jealousy, respectively).

I thought the fatal flaw in Romeo and Juliet was that they were bloody retarded?

Anyway nice written article, never played DA2 so at least now I know the gist of it.

Alexnader:

jezcentral:
@1337mokro

Sorry to be that guy but, technically, R&J is not a tragedy, just a tale of woe. :)

Tragedy requires a "fatal flaw" in the protagonist, that ends up destroying them. MacBeth, King Lear, Hamlet and Othello are tragedies. (Love for his wife, pride, indecision and jealousy, respectively).

I thought the fatal flaw in Romeo and Juliet was that they were bloody retarded?

Anyway nice written article, never played DA2 so at least now I know the gist of it.

No the fatal flaw in Romeo and Juliet is that they are stupid ass teenagers.

Self correction, Stupid ass HORNY teenagers.

Kahunaburger:

ccdohl:
Also there's the addition of the craptastic dialogue wheel, lack of race choice, lack of aesthetic customization in companions, reused areas, those quests where you would find an item and bring it to some random person for some reason, and the goofy departure from the aesthetic of the first game. All of which make the game a huge step backwards from its predecessor.

Let's not forget those problems.

Or the atrocious writing. Seriously, this thing practically needs its own Plinkett review.

Atrocious writing?
Really?
I can understand criticising DAII for its lack of polish, pointless fetch quests, rushed final act and overall lack of gameplay variation, but the writing? With the exception of Meredith and Orsino, both of whom were severely underdeveloped, I think the writing of DAII is fairly excellent. Especially the established interpersonal relationships.

I'd argue that Isabela alone was probably the single best written character of 2011. Of many a year, I'd say. The sheer amount of player prejudice she attracted only to end up subverting (assuming the player wasn't simply a misogynist prick), makes for some of the most substantial characterisation I've ever encountered in a game.
Add to that her grudging rapport with Aveline (another excellent character) growing into a strikingly intimate camraderie of mutual respect, with the same catcalls and insults they had used initially transformed into terms of endearment, and you've got two of the finest female characters in the medium in one of the finest friendships in fiction, full stop.

I'm also of the opinion that Hawke's disempowerment is one of the most interesting things about the game. Marketing utterly failed in doing this aspect justice (but then again, BioWare's marketing department seems to be run by utter berks), and a lot of player expectations were probably crushed for this reason alone. But if one looks beyond the broken promises of that misguided campaign, I think Hawke's story is a strikingly personal one, filled with more heartbreak and failure than the thoroughly uninteresting 'AN HERO' Warden could ever hope to match. Or the Courier in New Vegas or Witcher's Geralt for that matter.
Ultimately, Hawke's (and Kirkwall's) undoing is her inability to juggle the massive responsibilities laid upon her and keeping track of what her companions have wrought. The threat turns out to be something uncomfortably familiar to the player, rather than something thoroughly foreign and external.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be so arrogant as to imply DAII was flawless. It clearly isn't. And highlighting what the game failed to do is just as important, if not more so, than to illuminate what it succeeded in doing. But considering the disproportionate amount of criticism the game has received ever since its launch, I tend to be on its defense.

jezcentral:
@1337mokro

Sorry to be that guy but, technically, R&J is not a tragedy, just a tale of woe. :)

Tragedy requires a "fatal flaw" in the protagonist, that ends up destroying them. MacBeth, King Lear, Hamlet and Othello are tragedies. (Love for his wife, pride, indecision and jealousy, respectively).

Tell that to the libraries who file it under Tragedy.

I wholeheartedly (that is a fuckin strange word, is it spelled right?) agree with this article and I've felt from my first playthrough of Dragon Age 2 that it was rushed out (I blame EA, but then again, I always blame EA). Not really sure why an article such as this didn't come earlier, its been more than 10 months since the game was released, but better late than never I suppose.

Undead Dragon King:

And that's the best part. No matter whom you side with, you're allying yourself with an evil leader. It's an excellent guage in a game of which is the lesser of two evils. And that decision is why, for all its design flaws, I can't fault Dragon Age 2's story.

This would be great if the writing wasn't so heavy handed.

The mages and Meredith are just too crazy, to the point of being a caricature and that's what hurts the story and quests like the one pointed by the OP.

Orsino transformation in the end is on par with a Scooby-doo ending.

Two evil leaders, tragedy and all this stuff would be great. A rewarding ending doesn't necessarily has to be a happy ending. And I'm not asking too much here - hell, I would be glad if it made sense.

Anders: I blew everything up.
Meredith: And because of that, I will kill all the mages of the circle (which Anders is not part of), because I'm super crazy with this red thing.
Orsino: (A man that were level-minded during the game) AAAHHH, everyhting is lost (when he was winning the fight), I guess I will become a monster - it will surely make everything better.

In the end, the game is above average, with some very good moments and all, but it was obviously rushed and over simplified, throwing out the potential for a really great game.

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