15 March 2011 | Bobby747
Okay story, great gameplay
This is my first review of a video game on IMDb, as I usually post game reviews on ign.com. There is a lot to talk about in DA: II so if you get bored, just skip to the last few sentences of my review for my final judgment.
Anyways, I was absolutely obsessed with Dragon Age: Origins. The rich and epic storyline, emotional depth and involvement of the characters, along with the fantasy-RPG format and gameplay really captivated me to the point that I actually played through the game three times, with the expansion (Awakening) and all the DLC.
How does Dragon Age II compare? They changed aspects that I could see many taking issue with in the first game, such as the combat not being fast-paced enough, and seeming lack of consideration in creating a compelling visual representation of the Qunari.
The combat in DA II is much more fast-paced, and difficulty levels are maintained, and the Qunari are brilliantly depicted as their menacing selves. These changes I can agree with.
What I take issue with is the significantly weaker storyline and limited itemization and customizing options in comparison to DA: Origins. I rather enjoyed being able to meticulously equip and train all of my companions. It is replaced by a general upgrading system that is based on finding character-specific items that party members will automatically add to their existing attire. Accessory items are still interchangeable, but I feel that change was detrimental to the experience.
I realize that consistent itemization is a lot of complicated work for developers, and DA: Awakening suffered slightly in that respect, however I am always against limiting the power of the player when it comes to RPGs.
On the subject of DA: Awakening, the changes to the Runecrafting system for DA II was very welcome. I do not miss the hours spent upgrading runes to fill my equipment.
Concerning the use of characters in DA II, I feel was not bold enough. It seems that attempts were made to present difficult dilemmas for the player to choose from. However, since very few of the characters are even likable, almost all of the decisions were in fact easy to make, or rendered moot. This is likely due to the apparent lack of camaraderie between the central character and his/her companions that was present in DA: Origins, combined with the dialogue of DA II that appeals more to emo subculture than the vast majority of teens and young adults that play fantasy RPGs, and a lack of comic relief in an apparent struggle that seems more commonplace than a time of crisis.
There is an exception to the absence of comic relief in the character Merill, whose neurotic and often clumsy dialogue is a source of entertainment. Also, a couple of short encounters with characters from DA:O were entertaining while they lasted. However, generally the characters are much more severe in DA II than DA:O, when the conflicts and crisis of DA II do not feel as urgent.
I use DA:O and Awakening as a reference point to assess the direction of DA II because, in my opinion, DA II does not function on its own. It requires an understanding of DA:O to assess the successes and apparent failures of DA II.
Having finished both games, I highly recommend that prospective buyers play and finish Dragon Age: Origins, before playing Dragon Age II. If you don't play DA:O, I cannot guarantee that the context of DA II will be totally clear. If you did not like DA:O, you still might like DA II. If you loved DA:O, you won't be as enthused by DA II as you were the first game. It is still a solid fantasy RPG.
8/10. This would be an easy 9 or even 10 if a better effort was made towards the storyline, character development, dynamics between characters, dialogue, and companion itemization. The score is only so high because I believe in giving sequels a fair shake as a standalone item. If I was rating based on my comparisons to DA:O, I would have given it a 6 or 7.