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Average User Score: 4.5Mar 29, 2011Dragon Age II is a very good game, but it is not a great game. It suffers from a distinct lack of polish, poorly recycled areas, several bugsDragon Age II is a very good game, but it is not a great game. It suffers from a distinct lack of polish, poorly recycled areas, several bugs and a distinct lack of pacing during the late-game. Despite this, I found the game to be engaging, intriguing and fun to play, with well developed characters, and interesting and atypical storyline and fun, tactical combat.
The last of these seems to be an issue with a lot of people, and I feel I should make something clear: the difficulty setting essentially completely changes the way the game has to be played. Casual and Normal play more like an action game, with little thought or tactics required on anything but the toughest of battles. Hard and (particularly) Nightmare by contrast play more tactically with precise tactics and micro-management of your team required to excel or even succeed. Nightmare, for example, introduces enemy immunities and friendly fire, which greatly change how the game needs to be played. Playing on Nightmare, I found the combat and gameplay systems far more engaging and fun, and a vast improvement on Dragon Age: Origins. My recommendations to the player is to experiment with the difficulty until they find one that matches the game they wish to play.
That aside, the combat has several flaws. Foremost of these is the way enemies are pigeonholed into certain "types": Enemy Rogues, Templar Hunters and Rage Demons, for example, fall under a common "Assassin" category that shares behavioural traits. Short of differing elemental immunities (only on Nightmare difficulty), a carefully-thought-out tactic for dealing with assassins will work on *all* of these enemies with almost no variance. This mechanic makes combat for less strategic that it could have been. Other features, such as the more stylised animations, the 'wave' system of enemy encounters, cross-class-combo system and others are more a matter of personal preference: I enjoyed them all, and with some tweaks in future titles I feel they form the basis of an excellent combat system.
The plot has been similarly dividing. Unlike Dragon Age: Origins, this is not a story about saving the world or defeating an ancient evil. Players looking for that story should look elsewhere. DA2's story is a lot more personal and narrow in scope, focusing on the main character and her or his family and companions as they deal with the evolving religious, social and political situations in Kirkwall, where the majority of the game is set, over a period of 7 years. Overall, I found it more engaging than that of Origins. However, it does suffer distinct pacing problems in the final Act, and ones enjoyment of the story will depend entirely on how one relates to the various companions and situations arising. Again, this an area where opinions will differ.
A note should be made about the main character, since this is one area I found the game excelled. The player assumes the role of Hawke, a human refugee. Hawke can be male or female, a warrior, rogue or mage, and is completely voice-acted (by either Nicholas Boulton or Jo Wyatt depending on gender). Further, throughout the game the player has the option to pick from distinct 'personality' choices in dialogue. These fall broadly into 'helpful/diplomatic', 'sarcastic/humourous/charming' and 'aggressive/direct/rude'. The more the player picks one of these option, the more it cements Hawke's personality, meaning that when Hawke responds without player direction, he or she often reacts in the manner of the player-directed persona. Unlike the Paragon/Renegade selection in Bioware's other RPG, Mass Effect, the player is not penalised for switching from one personality to another, allowing more fluid role-playing. The reason I bring this up is because, for me (and opinions will vary), Hawke managed to walk the fine line between a player-customised character and a character in their own right. Hawke managed to be both *my* character and *a* character. In my experience, this is incredibly difficult to pull off and I feel Bioware should be commended for the accomplishment. For references' sake, I played an aggressively direct, sometimes sarcastic and rarely diplomatic female Mage. To summarise, Dragon Age 2 is a solid RPG with some interesting gameplay and roleplay systems, an engaging story and characters and fun combat. However, it suffers from lack of polish, recycled dungeons and somewhat underdeveloped tactical elements. The game probably needed another 6 months to a year in development to be the game it could have been. Overall, the Original may be the better game, but DA2 makes certain key improvements. It is not a great game, but it is far from a bad game. It is, indeed, a very, very good game, and well worth playing.… Expand