I was thinking of doing a review of Dragon Age 2, but unfortunately, I haven’t finished the game yet and I don’t want to review it before I’m finished with it. But what I have read online about the game is really pissing me off, so I’m still going to write my opinions about the game. I’ve seen it coming for month now (considering the level of negativity in certain “circles”) and I’m not surprised, but really is it worth it to smear a game company and a game just because it’s the cool thing to do? Most of the “hate” about DA2 is biased and, in some cases, lies.
It’s Dragon Effect 2 or a console port
I have been playing Mass Effect 2 non-stop since December (LotSB is just too awesome) and really, I don’t see the similarities between the two games. I’m not playing a pseudo-shooter or a toned-down RPG. I still have a true inventory. I can still gather loot. I can still give weapons and trinkets to my companions (no armor; I’ll explain that one later). The game allows for a lot more role-playing moment than any of the Mass Effect games or Dragon Age: Origins; I can be more than a jerk or a nice guy, which is refreshing. Also, the game isn’t about being a God Damn Hero, it’s just Hawke getting dragged into local politics. It’s a different kind of epic. Anybody who claims the game is Dragon Effect is probably still pissed off that they can’t play as an elf. As for the console part, I’m playing on the PC and really, besides the “press a key” window at the beginning (mouse button works) the rest is a PC interface (consoles have their own interface, too). I really don’t feel like I’m playing a port here.
It’s linear like FFXIII or not as free form as Dragon Age: Origins.
Really? Looks like some people just played the demo or just love to lie. FFXIII is a corridor game. Dragon Age: Origins is not free form, all the maps are linear and the only non-linear part is in which order you do the main quest. Dragon Age 2 is a lot more free form than Origins, maps are usually larger; the different city maps all being larger than Denerim in Origins. The maps still limit what you can explore, but since BioWare left the 2D world, all their games have been designed like that. You also need to explore, with your finger always on the tab key, to find most of the side quests … when I say explore, I mean explore all the little nook and crannies; some stuff is well hidden. Also the main quest is composed of chained events (a story is always linear once completed, duh), but you can complete most stuff in the other that you want.
Yes, Dragon Age 2 reuse area layouts for some quests. It also use the same places for different quests, but there is only one Chantry in the whole game, so. Now, it took me 10 hours until I got my first repeated area, but unlike Dragon Age: Origins (yeah, some people seems to have forgotten that DA:O used repeated areas as well … like every damn random encounter and houses), the DA2 repeated areas don’t always make you enter on the same spot and some parts of the map are inaccessible depending on the quest. So you don’t explore the whole layout every time you get it and don’t always explore it the same way, which makes it look different. Personally, either I was lucky in my quest order or it’s not as bad as some people claim, because I get a repeated layout about once every 2 hours.
Fewer RPG elements
Really? Depending on what you call RPG elements, DA2 is above anything that Dragon Age: Origins had (or any other BioWare games for that matter). It’s BioWare’s best character class customization to date and you get a lot more freedom to roleplay in the dialogues. The little dialogue symbol helps a lot to realize you can be a lot more than just a jerk or nice guy. Yeah, you lose persuasion skills, but you gain persuasive companions and sometimes you get special dialogue choices only available if you did something else or asked the right question previously that give you more “dialogue power”.
Anybody who claims that DA2 has worse combat then Origins is lying. The combat is actually an improved version of DA:O: faster in execution, more responsive and it has a lot fewer filler encounters. You still need to use tactics and the rest of the mechanics are relatively the same. Anybody who claim that you can play DA2 by “button smashing” is lying. I’m playing on Casual and some encounters need to be micro-managed (and I do this a lot more often then I did on Easy in Origins). Although, I’m on the PC, maybe the consoles are easier.
Not as replayable as Origins
Ok, let me get this straight, the only replayable part of Origins was the origins section, after that, everything was the same, until the recap text. So far, I have already seen reasons to replay DA2:
- Playing mage or non-mage change a lot to the story.
- Some quests choices affect the main story.
- Friendship/rivalry with companions (I will need to try this one to see how much it change).
Somebody hasn’t bothered talking to his companions, I think, or is just pissed he can’t change his armor. They are the most well-integrated companions done by BioWare. They actually talk to each other, for god’s sake, and they all live in their own damn houses. Beats any of BioWare’s previous companions, who never talk to one another despite all living together and who have all the same quest comments (minus main quest companions events, which never change). It also beats Dragon Age: Origins companions who always seems to only acknowledge one companion in banter and who only have a “past.” Yeah, there are a few three-way banters and sometime Hawke adds himself into the conversation. Also, you learn a lot of stuff about the companions through the banter and you get to learn about what they want to accomplish and not just their past. They actually feel like complete characters and not just romance traps or stereotypes fillers. Also, bringing companions on specific quests gives you the chance to have more dialogue options or have them comment on events, usually in relation to their “jobs/position” in Kirkwall. And the job/position is really why you can’t change their armor look. These companions aren’t Hawke’s servant or little army: they have lives of their own.
And finally, the icing on the top of the cake. Dragon Age 2 is uglier then Origins … really? I can understand not liking the art style, which, by the way, isn’t that much different beside the Darkspawn redesign. But saying the game is ugly is really just hating for the sake of hating (or only liking Crisis-like graphics, which really means that person isn’t into RPGs). DA2 is BioWare’s best-looking game, along with Mass Effect 2. Environments are really well-designed, textures are sharp with the high texture pack and the lighting is moody when necessary.
I can understand people who didn’t like Origins not liking DA2, but people who keep comparing the game to Origins saying it’s worse really should go back, replay Origins, and realize it’s the same damn gameplay, the only difference is the story and so far, it’s BioWare most interesting story since Jade Empire … well, if you like politics. The game isn’t perfect, but it’s quite entertaining. Also, I find it extremely interesting that online digital retailers that require you to purchase the game to review/rate it, show close to or perfect scores right now.