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My Review of Dragon Age 2 Through Act I

Posted by Liquid Wolf , 11 March 2011 · 425 views

PC Version
Graphics are stupendous on a newer system... GTX 400 series or above should be great on HIGH. I downloaded the High Resolution Texture pack from here and everything still plays very well. 200 series is probably good on Medium/High as well and still looks/plays nicely.

To me, the game is definitely not like DA:O... but I'm not disappointed. Obviously there are going to be a LOT of heartbroken people out there that were really looking forward to a return to the old style of RPGs a-la Baldur's Gate and maybe even Neverwinter Nights... Dragon Age II is not going to be that. You might not even call Dragon Age 2 a sequel to DA:O, but more ofan offshoot of the series... if they come out with a third that brings back the feel of DA:O. The world, the lore, the races, and factions...all still there and just as deep. The customization options of your character are still numerous, and your decisions in the world still have a great impact on what happens in the short-term and long-term.

What about your party?... well that has changed.

Some familiar faces and features return, but the options you get with your party members is more limited in DA2. In terms of equipment, while Hawke can customize all slots like before, your party members are restricted to Accessories and weapons. Their armor is upgradable through purchasing special items from different vendors in the game.

In terms of abilites and spells... the system has been change to somewhat of a talent tree system where you spend points to work your way through a set of spells/abilites. Hawke has a multitude of choice, but each party member is pretty much already set in a particular direction, and best used to fill those roles.

For Example: One caster party member has a wide variety of healing specializations and abilities, but another might have none available to choose from. You could use that first caster as a damage/debuffer... but then you might hurt yourself in the long-run if you don't make Hawke a healer.

Yeah, it kind of blows... especially if you don't like this particular character.

When it comes to rogues/warriors... the game is a bit more forgiving for have a two-hander tank instead of a sword/board... or a range rogue rather than a dagger rogue. So it's not all terrible unless you absolutely hate healing, and really don't like that one character who is probably the best healer. Even then, you could probably manage by making Hawke a mage who has a secondary healing spec.

... Challenge Accepted!!

And what about Combat?

Immediately you'll notice the game feels like a different type of RPG. Combat is much more fast-paced in DA2, and they have removed the top-down view from DA:O. If you start out on Normal difficulty, you'll immediately get a sense of, "Well that was easy..." You might even complain and feel annoyed that the tactical game-play is just gone, and the game is completely changed.

I'll tell you to turn on Hard difficulty and go fight the Mature Dragon at the mines, or the team of Disguised guards at a mansion during the quest "Fools Rush In". Yes... I played a fool and wound up with only my ranged rogue kiting eight enemies around a room picking them off one by one for thirty minutes. While fighting the mature dragon, I knew there was no way my guys could keep taking the hits they were... So I had the tank only stay on the dragon until it went to breathe fire, at which point I paused combat, told the tank to run out of the way of the upcoming fire blast, and had everyone else back up to help reduce threat. When the dragon targeted another party member, I had everyone stop attacking, and move away from the dragon till the tank picked up threat again. Active dodging, character position, and proper damage reduction were all things I had to keep on my mind the whole fight.

It's true you can auto-pilot through many trash fights with good Tactics (the in-game ones) and proper placement of your characters... but tactical combat (from you, the player) is still available and even necessary on the harder difficulties. Try putting it on Nightmare, and use Cone of Cold as much as you used to... it isn't pretty.

So...I'm happy with it.

I like not having to deal with every equipment slot on every single party member, and I'm happy the fighting doesn't feel as sluggish as it used to. I'm happy a combo system was implemented to give boosted damage to stunned/CC'd enemies, and I don't necessarily mind that each character has a pre-defined role... OK... maybe one more mage-healer would have been nice...

I enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins but I did have to struggle to finish it before DA2 released... On a similar note... I enjoyed Mass Effect, but I also found myself pushing through to finish just before ME2 came out.

And yet... with Dragon Age 2 (as with Mass Effect 2) I am having an absolute blast. I find it a very enjoyable experience, and I really don't believe these games are any less of an RPG than the originals. They might be slightly different games, but that doesn't mean they are not still good.

Was I hoping that DA2 would become the next Baldurs Gate 2? Yeah... a little... But I'm not letting those hurt feelings get in the way of what is a good experience.

I believe Dragon Age 2 stands well in it's own regard even if it didn't meet the expectations set by DA:O. You can probably blame EA's influence if you like... but I do believe Dragon Age 2 is worth the money. I've put the difficulty on hard, and find myself completing all available side quests, backtracking to collect chests/materials/loot, and talking to every party member/NPC as much as possible.

There are plenty of bad things if you look for them, but I find there are more than enough good things about this game to make it worthwhile.

I've easily put in over a hundred hours into DA:O, and my close female friend Killasharra has probably done two or three times that.
We both believe what was good about DA:O still holds true for DA2. It might not look like it at first, but you'll see it when you play the game and are willing to take the time to explore and test.

... Well... except the addons. Bioware really needs to update that toolset so we can get addons for DA2...

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Great review! I am on act 3 now and look forward to what you think as you go along. I am also enjoying it but feel a little let down that its not more like DAO. One of my favorite things was how much you could really get to know the party as a whole and I feel they really missed that mark.

A few of the quests really left me feeling unhappy (I wont add any spoiler)

I really like the new combat system though and the voice over is great imo. I will stop now as this is your review not mine :) Again great review thanks for sharing it.
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Nice review man, not alot of people care to post positive things about DA 2. But I agree having hawke as a healer is a lot more fun and challenging
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DA2 is one of my favorites (for combat and story and flavor, though the copied dungeons/zones really bother me).  Interesting review - looking forward to reading along as you go!

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