The Fistbeard is prolific - we had his review of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 last week, and now he's giving us his well-formed opinion of Dragon Age II in one of the best Reader Reviews I've read in a while. Take it away Fistbeard.
Dragon Age II has hit, and with me being a fan of the first game I couldn’t wait to give this one a whirl. But how does it stand up to it’s predecessor? Time to let my beard do the talking.
Loved Everything. With an exception.
Oh boy, here it comes. But hear me out on this.
Dragon Age II is a good game. The graphics are nice, Storyline is solid, and the combat is fast, fun and bloody. It’s a good, solid RPG.
I loved the story, which is more personal than most because your main character has a family to anchor them with some kind of emotional attachment. Your party members are interesting, from the beardless dwarf Varric who exaggerates on stories and is a novelist, to Isabella, the hard-ass pirate lady.
The combat is fast and steamlined, with attacks you will actually use constantly rather than maybe once or twice just to see what it does. Setting up tactics for your party (Think Gambits from FFXII) allows you to tailor the AI to be as effective as possible, and you get a good sense of progression as you level up.
But the biggest misstep with Dragon Age II is that it’s nowhere near as good as it’s predecessor. It’s almost as if Dragon Age Origins was supposed to be the sequel to this game, because when held up to the first game, it’s a mess. Dragon Age II’s end result is a solid RPG, but the first Dragon Age was a solid RPG at it’s foundations, and had everything built around it.
The combat strips everything bare from the first game, removing unique kill animations, getting rid of spell combos for useless “cross class combos”. The blood and violence is cartoony, with one stab from a dagger causing an eneny to explode as if a grenade went off in their torso. Your party members just seem to enter the story without any sort of narrative groundwork, and the story itself is neutered from the first game’s incredible, epic scope.
Then there’s the issues of fixing something that isn’t broken. Isometric camera is gone, for reasons beyond my understanding. You can’t outfit your party members with anything other than weapons, and the class skill trees have been totally stripped bare. Even the dialogue was switched to a Mass Effect 2 style conversation wheel, which I initially had no problems with, until I realized that it boiled down to 3 separate ways of saying “yes” to someone.
The main issue I’ve found is that Dragon Age II is trying to cater to people who didn’t like the first game, or who don’t like RPG’s, and it’s ended up alienating fans of the first game.
Yes, Dragon Age 2 is a good, even great RPG. But the fact it holds the Dragon Age name is it’s biggest flaw. The first game was a love letter to old school RPG’s such as Planescape and Baldur’s gate, but the sequel just ignored everything that made the first game such a hit.
To sum it up: Dragon Age II is what Invisible War is to Deus Ex.
Is it a good game? Yes. Just forget Dragon Age: Origins ever happened as you’re playing it.