Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age 2 review: A mature, challenging, modern RPG

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EA Games Dragon Age 2
  • EA Games Dragon Age 2
  • EA Games Dragon Age 2

Pros

  • It's amazing that Bioware would take its premier IP, and take risks with it, while still turning out a genuinely interesting RPG

Cons

  • The reaction to this game is going to discourage anyone from trying anything innovative ever again

Bottom Line

With Dragon Age 2, Bioware has delivered a very different RPG that's still set within the very interesting world it came up with in Dragon Age 1. It's an ace combination.

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  • Dragon Age 3 III Inquisition PAL Version (PS4) 89.90
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  • Dragon Age Origins Game (essentials) PS3 24.99
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Dragon Age 2 is not Dragon Age. It seems like an obvious truism, but given the backlash Bioware's sequel has suffered, it is a statement that people seem to need reminding of.

Indeed, in doing something so dramatically different, Bioware has inadvertently given other developers and publishers all the reason in the world to keep their top franchises safe and stale — if you take risks, you'll piss off some very vocal fanboys.

The backlash would be understandable if the game was in some way inferior to the original, but, although it is a very different experience, Dragon Age 2 is a very high quality game indeed. Whereas Dragon Age was an expansive epic, Dragon Age 2 is a contained character-driven story. Hawke is a greater focus than any individual character in the original, and, thanks to some excellent writing, it has a far more dynamic and personable cast this time around.

Where the original game had locations all over an entire nation to explore and slaughter, Dragon Age 2 focuses in on a single city, with limited capacity to explore elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with this — indeed, urban fantasy is a genre long underdeveloped in video games, and Bioware was brave to take a crack at it with a very valuable IP. In the main, it works — the city of Kirkwall is vibrant with plenty of intrigue. There are enough plot twists and turns to keep driving you through the story, and the side stories are an interesting bunch.

The world of Ferelden might be more limited directly this time around, but its literature and mythology remain expansive. It's hard to understand why, after experiencing all of Ferelden last time around, Dragon Age fans would not appreciate a chance to take a microscope to its inner workings — I know I certainly did, and I came out of Dragon Age 2 with a greater appreciation of Bioware's world than I did going in.

Combat is vastly improved, with a far more dynamic and customisable system than previously. This time around there's a greater range of skills and abilities that are genuinely useful, meaning there's less of an inclination to spam the same skills ad nauseum. Comparisons to MMOs are apt: Dragon Age 2 is a game of builds and hotkeys, but MMOs have become a dominant gameplay structure for a reason — even a pen and paper RPG like the modern Dungeon and Dragon borrows liberally from World of Warcraft, because it's a dynamic and exciting approach to combat that doesn't neglect strategy.

To be fair there are signs that the team at Bioware laboured over a tight production time line — there's a few too many assets that are reused a few too many times for an RPG's own good — and about halfway through you're going to realise the reason the game is set inside a city is because featuring too many other locations would have blown out the development time.

But that's not much to complain about. Dragon Age 2 remains a mature, challenging, modern RPG. It's unfortunate that should there be a Dragon Age 3 Bioware will now be discouraged from trying to do something different.

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Read more on these topics: rpg, games, bioware, pc games

Matthew

1

In my opinion, the things that are listed above are simply rationalizations, rather than brave undertakings.

EA wanted a quick game to capitalize from the success of DAO and ordered it on a super fast timeline. This isn't my opinion, but what Bioware's leaders have admitted.

This is made worse by the fact that the Doctors (currently the heads of Bioware/Mythic) told Bioware that hooking up with EA would not mean quickly churned out games of lower quality, but would result in deeper more expansive games because EA would give them lots of money to worry less about release dates.

I believe this game represents a clear betrayal of Bioware's core customers. While I don't dispute that DA2 may be great fun for some, it flys in the face of what early Bioware stood for.

Oh well, things change. Bioware doesn't owe the customer anything. Still, I don't owe them anything either, so hopefully we can part with no hard feelings.

Bias:
I absolutely am a "good old days" rpg player who loves Morrowind, Baldur's Gate, and Planescape: Torment.

Colin

2

DA2 is absolutely a simplified RPG more designed for consoles than PCs. The story is nothing more than a grouping of numerous unrelated quests/short-stories. Graphics are ok, though you spend all your time in the same 6 or 7 strictly linear zones. Combat is ridiculous...much more like a streetfighter game than an RPG. Conversation options have been dumbed down to the point to where your choices have very little impact on anything. I was a huge fan of Bioware, but now will wait several weeks for real reviews to come out before buying any more of their products.

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DaHye

0.0

1

Pros
yo momma
Cons
flapjacks
• • •

PCWorld obviously got paid for this review. After playing DAO, Dragon Age II just doesn't match up. It is limited in every way. How is there 'nothing wrong' with having limited maps to explore? Boring. The companions are shallow and stereotyped and I paid no attention to the storyline; who cares about some bitch who doesn't like mages? I got less play time out of Dragon Age II because I was bored of it so quickly. I only played it once, whereas I played DAO a few timest. At least with DAO you could make different decisions that actually affected the storyline. Consoles can eat my ass after what they did to Dragon Age

Dave

0.0

2

Pros
Witcher 2
Cons
Dragon Age II
• • •

I'm sorry did you mentioned that Dragon Age II is innovative? The recycled dungeons, waves of enemies spawning out of nowhere and lack-luster storyline are innovative? Along with PC Gamer and PC Format, I'm not trusting this site for reviews again.

Holly

2.0

3

Pros
hawke
Cons
characters & Map
• • •

The main plot is not to defeat evil as in DA Origins. It is more like choosing which gang to join. Your brother is a templar, your sister a Mage. I was very uncomfortable killing inocents. As a woman I valued the romantic aspect of DA origins. The characters are terrible. The only good looking man is a MONK! My choices are a homicial maniac or a skinny elf that hates my no matter what I do. Not very satisfying! After having my lover tell me he "appreciates me" a hundred times I tried to run him through with my sword. I was happy I could actually execute him at the end. I WANT MY ALLISTER BACK. The love interests if your playing as a man are worse, a trecherous pirate or a skinny deluded elf who wants to play with deamons. The yellow & black map is tacky. No epic game here. I have gone back to origins which I have completed over 20 times, and moved on to FableIII & Fallout new vegas. I am so disappointed since I LOVED DA ORIGINS.

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