Final Character Level: 19
My Final Score: 70 (no change)
Metacritic Score: 83 (no change)
When I decided on a rating of 70 for my last update, I felt Dragon Age 2 had more upside than downside at that point. I had already experienced plenty of the negatives - the recycled levels, the repetitive quests, and all those console-driven design changes I had disagreed with from the start. The only thing left was the game's conclusion, and I really expected it to raise my opinion. After all, I was impressed with how the second act wrapped up.
But no. As it turns out, Dragon Age 2's ending is almost as flawed as its beginning. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that Bioware tried to set up a difficult decision for the player, but in trying to balance both sides of the equation, ended up making the choice meaningless. The setup also required some logical contortions on the part of key NPCs.
That's about as far as I can go without major spoilers, so let's turn our attention to my baseline expectations and see how Dragon Age 2 measured up.
Positives - Baseline expectations
- Offbeat plot structure
- City adventure with a more limited scope
- Simplified inventory management
- New character advancement system
- The lore
The only disappointment in this group was the lack of new lore. Having worked on a standalone mod set in Ferelden, I'm well acquainted with setting's limitations and thought it was a safe bet that Bioware would expand beyond the templar/Chantry/mage paradigm that drove much of the plot of Origins. Unfortunately, Dragon Age 2 dwells on those factions excessively and offers very little that's new, aside from a greater focus on the Qunari.
|The Qunari - they may not be pretty, but their presence in Dragon Age 2 is one of the game's highlights.|
Positives - Surprises
- UI improvements
However, the biggest surprise of all is how much I enjoyed the fast-paced combat. I wouldn't say it's better than the slower, more tactical combat of Origins, but it's fun and immersive in its own right. The gratifying combat animations, combined with the improved character advancement system, did more to keep me playing Dragon Age 2 than just about anything else.
|"Enjoyably chaotic" is how I would describe battles in DA2.|
- Dialogue wheel
- Preset character
- Console combat
- Overall reduction in freedom
|Laughably linear dialogue from early on in DA2.|
Negatives - Surprises
- Recycled content
- The writing
|Levels are shamelessly reused in DA2 (gotta squeeze this in one more time).|
Dragon Age 2 isn't as good as the professional critics would have you believe, nor as bad as disgruntled fans of Origins would contend. Overall, it is a good game, though the word "good" comes out with a little hesitation. I don't feel like I wasted my money on it, but I don't see myself replaying the entire campaign either (by contrast, I started many different games of Origins, and finished several times).
|My menu of characters from DA:O. Yes, I am a geek.|
For those of you who have played the game, I'll post some humorous (and spoiler-heavy) thoughts on the story later this week. After that, I'm looking forward to moving on to other topics, including The Witcher 2.