Enjoyed this more than DA1, but scoring is a bit less!

User Rating: 8.5 | Dragon Age II PC
Excellent review from Kevin as always. And although I agree with a lot of his points, I disagree with the opinion that none of the characters are as memorable as Alistair or Morrigan from Dragon Age I, and with the part about the over-simplification.

First, I felt that Varric is a darn memorable character that I'll remember for a long time to come; his name is just a little forgettable, but that's all. Merrill was also an interesting character right off the bat, and she remained interesting and will be very memorable for me for a long time to come. All the other characters were also special in their own ways. All the characters were written and acted superbly; the issue is that they're just not as "charming" as Alistair or Morrigan were, but when you think of it, does the strength of [every] character in a story has to be charm? Or can characters have other strengths & be memorable for other traits. Charm gave Alistair & Morrigan an advantage, but some of us can certainly appreciate DA2's characters for traits other than charm.

The romance mechanics in DA2 also did not allow you to be "close" enough often enough to your chosen character; the ability to interact more regularly and also exchange conversation any time with the love-partner you chose for your alter ego in DA1 certainly strengthened your emotional attachment to those characters, and that gave Alistair and Morrigan a significant edge, while putting DA2's characters at a disadvantage.

Secondly, the simplification of DA2 was actually very welcome for me personally. I totally understand that a chunk of the RP community likes to fuss over armor and even the type of arrows and collect things over & over again to craft traps and such, but frankly, that's not why I play a game; I personally play a game mainly for the story and for fun combat, and would much rather have all armor upgrades and potions, or traps and so, simply automated for me. Of course I don't speak for all gamers, but I like to think that Bioware simplified DA2 from feedback that they received from the gameplay of DA1. Maybe the folks who like to fuss over armor & arrow types are louder on the forums, but I don't think they're a majority; otherwise, Bioware would've seen more profit in keeping things the same. If DA2 was changed that way, I believe it was because of what they learnt about the "majority" of those who played DA1. I personally enjoyed DA2 more, and welcome the changes made to it. With that said, I would give DA1 a score of 9, and would give DA2 a score of 8.5, because DA1 had more variety in locations, and was generally "richer" than DA2; I'd also change DA2's interface to be more medieval & less Mass Effect-ish or futuristic. Other than that, I still uphold my testimony that I enjoyed DA2 more.

So just differences of opinion here, and the majority opinions usually determine the direction of sequels...usually!

If you enjoyed Mass Effect 2 more than Mass Effect 1 (like I did) and liked ME2's changes, then I bet you'll agree with most of what I wrote in this review and Dragon Age II should definitely be in your collection of favorite games!