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Dragon Age II Review Extravaganza
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 9 March 2011, 15:53:33Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age II
I know that uber-long newsposts are very taxing on your attention, so I'll just list the scores different sites bestowed upon BioWare's latest emotionally engaging masterpiece and will quote only a few of them.
In certain key ways, Dragon Age 2 is a step back. Regardless of how you may feel about the changes to the formula, however, it's still a great RPG that draws you in, thanks to the power of choice. Here is a game in which decisions have consequences that ripple outward, producing effects you may not have seen coming. What makes them more effective is that there is not always a clearly bad or good path to take--not in this world in which greed and anger course through the veins of so many, regardless of their affiliation. Personal connections in your family and adventuring party further complicate matters, ensuring there isn't one obvious way to continue. It's a shame that these intricacies were tempered by unnecessary simplification and unfocused storytelling. Nevertheless, Dragon Age II makes a strong impression, pulling you through with the promise of another fun quest, another character to meet, and another beast to slay.
Sounds a bit like Alpha Protocol. 10% C&C and 90% crap gameplay. Heck, even the rating (only 8.0 instead of 11/10!!) is AP-like.
With no auto-attack, fights feel more fast-paced and chaotic, thanks in part to the fact that I was playing a rogue who flipped wildly between enemies in a hypnotic shower of blood. It's action-heavy, sure, but also requires some tactical forethought. A straight fight between an enemy and my sneaky duelist would rarely pan out well, which required me to constantly be aware of my tougher warrior buddy's actions and location. I'm not a big proponent of the "stop and give orders" approach to combat, but Dragon Age 2 provides just the right blend of strategy and stab...egy for my tastes.
Though the tactics system, which allows you to choose what specific actions characters will take in specific situations, is still as daunting to me as ever, I found that I barely needed to adjust the preset behavioral patterns. (All of said adjustments were the addition of "If you're about to die, heal yourself" which seems like enough of a biological imperative that I shouldn't have to dictate it.) If you want it, it's there, but you won't typically have to mess with it, thanks in large part to the removal of Origins' infuriating difficulty spikes.
Chaotic combat without the neccessity to even mess around with the tactics settings is what I've always dreamt of. Commander "Buttonmasher" Hawke is about to pwn your sorry asses.
With its third-person camera and button-mashing attacks, the combat system in Dragon Age II is designed with a controller in mind, but BioWare doesn’t offer native gamepad support, restricting you to mouse-and-keyboard controls on PC. This approach may have worked well in Origins, but it doesn’t transition well to the new system. Movement feels clumsy, and pausing to readjust the camera and select targets for your abilities just muddles the flow of combat.
Maybe this decision was made to retain a shred of the tactical combat that distinguished Origins, but if that’s the case, the attempt is meager and insufficient. You have no zoomed out isometric view, and the waves and waves of filler enemies that pad out encounters make strategy futile. Yes, you can pause and issue commands, but this maneuvering is pointless when you never know how many more bad guys will jump from the rooftops, rise from the ground, or simply materialize out of nowhere. Even with more foes, the fights are considerably easier (unless you really crank up the difficulty), so planning is a waste of time. You can win most fights without worrying about strategy, so why invest unnecessary time and effort in the tactical approach? This conundrum creates a combat system that does not convey the thrill of controlling an unstoppable hero, but also doesn’t accommodate the strategy that is supposed to serve as an alternative.
Dragon Age 2 does it right. It’s still an RPG epic, it still takes upwards of 50 hours to finish. It’s still got a deep, complex combat system, and it’s still got a well-defined supporting cast. But it’s also an RPG that wears its mythology proudly, confident in its goal of charting the rise of a complete and utter badass. You.
Swinging your sword just isn't all that effective. Some special moves look amazing, but on the whole there's a disconnect between how awesomely hard Hawke's swings look and how much damage it inflicts on enemies, even at higher levels. That's just the nature of this game - it's based on dice rolls. Because of that, I recommend everyone plays this game properly - and that's on a harder difficulty.
With the difficulty cranked up you'll be forced to micro-manage your party a lot more and everything becomes more reminiscent of Dragon Age: Origins. You can pause the combat at any point, order your party to move individually, use skills, magic and items, heal, attack - anything - through the radial menu that pops up when you pause the game.
That's it for now. So it scores ~80 even at mainstream review sites usually dishing out perfect scores for AAA titles? Weird. And here I thought 1,5 years was plenty of time to develop a high-quality RPG to make EA proud.