Not exactly the sequel desired, but good for killing time ...
Bondius wrote this review on .
Don't get me wrong. Dragon Age 2 isn't bad, but not the classic you'd expect from the sequel of THE Dragon Age. I enjoyed playing the game but I'm sure as hell not going to replay it ... at all, ever, I guess.
I bet all the previous Dragon Age fans were hyped when they created Hawke and started playing through the first part of the story. The amulet, the expedition, all of the details in the first part of the game pointed me to a great adventure to unfold but, as the main story progressed, I found myself doing chores that almost every MMO games have. I am (to be) the Champion of Kirkwall! You don't send me to mop the floor with a few bandits! And why are there unnamed, unimportant NPCs attacking me every minute? Why do they have another group of NPCs attacking me AGAIN after the fight is over? Where does this all lead to? This is the game's downfall. The lack of any real, tangible final goal makes progressing through the story more of a chore than an interest. The first year you raise money, the second year you quell an uprising that was so obvious I didn't even have to listen to the whole dialogue, the third year is about quelling another uprising (or siding with it). I honestly started to think one of the main quests will include "Do the dishes". Excuse me, Bioware, but I think you forgot the great evil we are supposed to vanquish in these fantasy RPGs. Neverwinter Nights had one, Dragon Age had one, Mass Effect had one. Coming up with something new doesn't mean it's better.
Now that we got the story out of the way, let's look at the combat mechanics. Dragon Age had a tactical sense of combat, where a well-organized party could take down legions of foes with clever outflanking, timed spells and the smart use of abilities. Dragon Age 2 has none of that. Once combat starts, your party charges the first foe in their path like a dog charging to hump the leg of it's owner when he returns home. 5 seconds is all that takes for a strategic positioning to become a clusterf**k where hack-and-slash games start to look like military surgical strikes. The only time where tactics are viable are in boss fights, where you must pause the game every 3 seconds to issue new orders. No points from me here, Bioware.
As for dialogue, while the awesome writing we got used to is still there (even with the Mass Effect crossover of good / bad / sarcastic dialogue of Hawke) it doesn't seem to make up for the lack of real story. The companions are the only thing of worth, as each are unique and very interesting, each coming with their own background and quest to earn their loyalty (Mass Effect 2 more?), which can alter the not-so-grand finale of the game.
Yet more ME 2-ish is the companion management. The only things you can equip them with are weapons (and shields). Since companion armor is only upgraded (by finding them on companion side-quests or buying them), most armors you will find on side-quests will go to the "rich lifestyle fund" since the best armor is found in the main quest of the game. Not much of a motivation to pursue these side-quests apart for the extra gold, experience and maybe a better weapon.
Ok, Bioware, please listen. If I wanted to play Mass Effect: Dragons, I would have sent you a request. Just because some things work in ME doesn't mean it will work in DA too. Doing crossovers where Miranda is a pirate, Tali is an elf and Garrus is a mage won't make a great game but it was a good try.
Bottom line: story is shallow as a puddle, outcomes are predictable, combat is less tactical but visually entertaining, the great writing is in there somewhere but it's hard to dig for it. It was a nice but not interesting. Let's all hope they've learned something from all the reviews and they'll work harder to finish a game that would have had potential.
Thanks for bearing with me and reading my thoughts, until next time ...