From a TRUE DAO/AW fan...
Yes, well just about everytime you have that thought during DAO, just remember....no. Every single time you'll think that in Origins is another thing they failed to improve on in DA2. On top of that, the things they did change are just...mind blowingly pointless. Seriously, it baffles me why you would take out/limit the top down view, one of the best parts about PC DAO. The menus are slow to load and, instead of being a simple book that appears in the center of the screen, making everything else around it transparent, these are ugly, slow to appear, empty looking menus that open up a whole new screen. Tragic.
The codex entries have lost their epic fantasy book feel and are much more difficult to navigate through. Now, having read a vast majority of codex entries in DAO/AW, and I thought the writing was superb, there were some side or flashback stories in DA2 that were VERY well written and kept me genuinely interested in what happened to this pile of bones and armor who has been locked in an underground dungeon for a hundred years.
But, this brings me to the level design, possibly DA2's biggest downfall. One word...pathetic. This was a word I honestly thought I'd never have to use in a Bioware game. I tried so hard to convince myself things would change or it would get better but no...never. The whole game takes place in cramped city streets or repetitive basements/dungeons. The closest you get to outside is the beginning (first 20 minutes or so), which is easily the best part of the game. WOW did they drop the ball on this one! How do you go from being a very path driven RPG which excelled in varied level design to being a dumbed down single path hallway? I thought if anything this is the one area that would be improved upon, just making the levels slightly more open, maybe along the lines of Witcher 2 (doesn't have to be THAT open, but at least let me jump off a 2 foot rock). Quite the opposite, they made them smaller and easier. Just pathetic.
Now as I said the level design is possibly the biggest downfall OVERALL, including consoles. However, when it comes to the PC and my personal opinion, the dumbest, worst, most horrible choice they could've made is removing any hope for community modding. That's what enabled me to play through DAO entirely 4 times, and Awakening 2, almost 275 hours worth of gameplay. Even with mods (most of them at least, some are made to be OP), set on Nightmare difficulty the game was still a challenge. Why, oh WHY sweet Bioware would you create one of the most convenient, most detailed mod sets ever to rival the champion Elder Scrolls (even had its own Nexus page! Says a lot..) and then totally take it from us with your direct "sequel?" It's almost as if they were TRYING to drive off their devoted fans and get an entirely new 10-15 year old fan base. Yet they kept the M rating....wtf?
As most reviews say, this isn't necessarily a bad game. However it is a DISGRACE of a game when you proclaim it as the sequel to one of the greatest RPGs ever made. Dragon Age Origins changed fantasy RPGs with its level design, group tactics, convo choices and varied 3rd person/top down camera. You didn't necessarily have to like it, but if you don't see the innovations it brought in these categories you did something wrong. DA2 however managed to set back pretty much every single one of those plus some. The tiny, boring square picture frames and their inconvenient placement (will actually get in the way of enemies in your bottom left) are just a joke.
I give this game a 6. Now, had it been named "Dragon Age: Hawke's Adventure" or "Hawke's Adventure" or "The Adventure of Hawke" or even just "Hawke," I'd probably give it a 7.5, MAYBE an 8. But, because it is a sequel (meaning the second in a series, not a whole new game), it is a joke. My heart wants to give it a 3, but my unbias journalist said will offer it a 6. DAO is one of my all time favorite games and I promise you I'm not letting such a bias influence my decision. For being a sequel, this is truly disappointing. Had it been a different game or even DLC or something, I might have actually enjoyed it. I honestly could keep going but this is already too long.
So, for those who are lazy and don't like to read, I'll break it down...
1. Decent team based combat.
2. Well written codex entries rival DAO and Elder Scrolls.
3. Much cooler combat animations.
4. Oghren is back.
5. Decent costume/character design.
6. Dwarves voices aren't as misplaced sounding.
1. Sequel fail
2. UI fail, clunky/slow/boring/unoriginal/repetitive/less customization
3. No more customizing armor.
4. Nauseating, repetitive level design.
5. Very slow start after intro segment, not nearly as engaging as DAO.
6. Storyline choices are MUCH more cookie cut. No longer is it "wow I agree with this but what will happen?" It's "so this is the bad option, this is the sarcastic option, this is the good option, gee I wonder what the outcome will be."
7. Top down combat is much more limited.
8. Blood is just stupid ridiculous now, not nearly as epic looking and deserved as in DAO, clearly just appealing to people who like overdone blood.
9. The potential. Breaks my heart...
10. NO MOD COMMUNITY SUPPORT!!
Any questions, feel free to ask.