Laura Parkinson (stormfeather) wrote,
Laura Parkinson

Dragon Age II end thoughts, not generally spoily

I should maybe do this as a Monday fun review, but I want to throw around probably too many spoilers for that (in a follow-up post it turns out), so... you'll have this review/discussion, and like it!

Or not. Your choice. Or not even an active choice really. (I mean really. Whenever someone says "you'll have such and such and LIKE it!" it's pretty much a guarantee that no, really, you won't. Although I hope that's not the case here.)

So, if anyone's trying to decide if they want the game...? Okay, first off, there are a few annoying bugs here and there (surprise surprise), but nothing I ran into that was game-breaking, even to the level of Awakening. So I wouldn't put it off out of worry that bugs will make it unfinishable, at any rate. Especially since EA's idea of killing bugs after the fact involves a fly-swatter made out of chicken wire.

And how was it...? Well, overall I probably disliked the direction they took it after the first one more than I liked it, it most things. So in that sense it wasn't quite the sequel I was hoping for - I was hoping they would take three strides forward, not a step forward here, two steps back there.

Or since this isn't really as spoily, unless you don't want specifics of how the game background/style changed....

To be more specific, I liked the graphic improvements, except for the glitches that made characters jump around, float in air, lights detach from their sources, etc. I also liked the character/race designs in general... except for the fact that it's completely divorced in some cases from how the first game was. Way to break the illusion of a continuing story, dudes.

I didn't much like the fact that they made combat less... tactical, and faster and more button-mashy really, although semi-ironically that at least made the tactics for your party members even more important to set up right. Also, the new action style is just jarring and, well, action-movie-ish, which I don't like when I'm trying to get immersed in a story-heavy video game, damnit. Although I do approve of the fact that mages no longer stand around and go *pew pew pew* in a totally boring way with their BIG HONKING STAVES.

I liked that they made the inventory/journal/etc sections separate and more, well, sensible, but I didn't like the way they cut so much out to simplify them. No non-combat character skills? Really? No ability to choose my companions' armor? Only three specializations for each class (and no chance for companions to choose them)? *le sigh*

I'm also not... completely in love with the general framework of the game, which I guess will mostly go under the spoiler space. I didn't hate everything about it but... well. I'll discuss it more down there.

The characters, generally, I liked once I got to know them, although it would have made it better if each character didn't have pretty much a given combat role (see the simplified menu complaints above), so that you couldn't slot a non-standard character into a certain role if you would rather use them. I mean, your choices for a standard, good tank are between one certain character, or your main character if you happened to play a sword-and-board warrior. And while you can somewhat tweak other party members to fill that gap if you choose to go without, it's a lot harder and less effective than it should be.

It was also... weirder in various ways trying to get close to these characters. The lack of gifts was a real downside, as well as the lack of one home base to go and talk to the characters, and a lack of dialogues. I mean, you did have a few unique discussions with each, but they're a lot more limited, and frankly don't tend to be as involved. Romances are also...weird, and mesh with the friendship/rivalry system in a weird way.

At least though they kept the party discussions as you're running around, which in some cases are just awesome. XD The belt buckle discussion especially stands out in my mind as just something that made me laugh out loud.

The story? Well, as I said, I wasn't as fond of various devices, but once you got past that, it was intriguing, and definitely made my protagonist at least a poster-child for the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is nice. I mean, I love that it's not just a matter of "be Polly Pureheart, make all the sweet good and kind choices, try to be the mediator all the time, and everything will work out for the best!" Obviously no elaboration on that point though, before the heavier spoiler cut.

Possibly the thing I hated MOST though, other than the annoying bugs here and there, was the total and complete laziness on area/dungeon design. Seriously, dudes, WTF? There are a small handful of unique areas in the game (which given the framing device you see again and again and again and again anyhow), and then everything else is Modular McDungeonland. It's almost like the caves in the game are a subset of L-Space in Discworld - all libraries are one library. All caves are one cave. Just with different sections really badly walled off. And no effort to even change the mini-map to pretend that the areas beyond the walls don't exist. AAUGH! SO BAD.

Anyhow, more stuff will have to go into the next section. After plaything through to the end though, it's an epic game, and worthwhile definitely... I just wish they'd also kept some more of the elements that made the first game so great.

So in short, to sum up, if you're just looking for the tl;dr version: The game's some good, some bad compared to the first one, but still a worthy sequel in general, and a worthwhile playthrough!
Tags: reviews, video games
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