Darth Revan
03-11-2011, 01:46 AM


Well Dragon Age II was released here in Australia yesterday, and it seems that the reviewer/critics are giving this a varied mixed bag at reviews. Some think it's a worth successor to the previous DA game, others have flamed it to kingdom come.

To me it looks like BioWare focused more on the 'Action' aspect of Action-RPG with this title. More like Dynasty Warriors in DA, what with the amount of button bashing. Story wise seems ok, but as I've only played about 2-3 hours of it so far, I can't really judge that yet.

I've read the reviews about this game, and tbh, I don't care what they say. I tend to ignore reviewers in general (either online or in magazines) and prefer trying the game out myself to form my own opinion. Is this a good game? Yes and No... from what I've played so far, there's a definite room for improvement here, as it seems like this is just a filler from BioWare to their fans until Mass Effect 3 is released.

Am I let down by DAII? A bit I guess... I'm still enjoying playing it, but not as much as I did with Dragon Age: Origins. DAII, to me that is, feels more like a expansion to the original instead of a sequel. I do hope that there's a expansion to this, to add more to the game (like Awakening), but I doubt that'll help pull in the reviewers etc.

TBH... if this is the best BioWare has to offer, I'm a little skeptical if they can deliver now with Mass Effect 3.

Aniki
03-12-2011, 12:54 AM
The game is like a roller coaster with it's ups and downs.

TK
03-12-2011, 07:02 AM
Just finished it about half an hour ago. Overall I give it a solid thumbs up and maybe a sideways thumb in addition.

Most things are worse than DAO. The combat is the main thing people bitch about, and it's true it got dumbed down a lot. You can still pause and be tactical, sort of, but the way enemies just keep coming in waves and pop up surrounding you makes it incredibly annoying to try. There are no big sprawling environments to have huge battles in like DAO, so you can't plot out a strategy beforehand. It's just, oh, suddenly there are guys everywhere! I guess I better try to get them all to attack my tank and, fuck, get the hell out of there Merril I goddammit fine just die I just need to jump around with my rogue anyway.

It's such a hassle for no real reward that I gave up doing that after a few hours, set the difficulty to casual, and just mashed my way through all the fights. I don't really care too much about that, combat isn't the main thing I play RPGs for.

The thing that really does blow about this game is the fucking map reuse. This is the one area where it really feels like they rushed the game and I think this is the main reason they were able to get it out so fast. You go through the same stupid cave, coastline, basement etc. maps over and over again until you could navigate them with your eyes closed (and yes, they're supposed to be different locations). This is such unbelievably lazy stupid bullshit. Considering 90% of the game takes place in Kirkwall, you'd think that for the few occasions you do step into new areas they could have made some new maps.

But the good part is the story, which was REALLY good. I have been dying for more RPGs that tell stories like this. Are you the chosen one whose ragtag band of adventurers must defeat the ancient evil and save the whole land? FUCK NO! That rules! You start out just trying to move up in the world and get caught up in political intrigue and the story develops at a really natural pace and there are lots of surprises that are actually well done and genuinely unexpected. They really keep you guessing up to the end.

Also, the characters are mostly done quite well and I really cared about what happened. I really even liked Anders in this game, and I hated him in Awakening. There were several different points where I felt totally heartbroken and several choices where I sat staring at the wheel for a couple minutes before making up my mind. It's this awesome sick depressing tragedy, and I loved a lot about the way it ended. It makes the DA fantasy world real and believable by emphasizing problems and conflicts that we can actually relate to. And having a main character who speaks like Mass Effect, and using the convo wheel interface, was a very good idea. I loved the fact that for once in an RPG I could be sarcastic and kind of an ass at times, and it progressed the story just as well at it would have if I was a goody two-shoes.

My one single complaint about the story is that they turned Isabela into a cliche walking pair of tits. She was actually an interesting character in DAO because she was subtle and her voice actor gave her a lot of personality. This Isabela was lame as hell. Boo. But overall, really enjoyed myself. I just hope that next time they spend some more time on creating a more varied setting for the game to take place in.

Also: we should delete the RPG forum and move this to general gaming, nobody talks in this stupid forum and this game deserves conversation.

Darth Revan
03-12-2011, 11:56 PM
I think I screwed up my Warrior playthrough... Missed out on getting Isabela and Sebastian (from the DLC) in my party. So, started new game as a mage. Got Isabela no problem, but can't get Sebastian in my party. I'll figure it out somehow. The lack of locations is one thing that a lot of people have complained about with DAII, and I guess I can understand that, however as the story is based around the 'Champion of Kirkwall', it makes sense that the game is focused in and around Kirkwall itself.

Like you TK, I'm enjoying the story a lot, maybe even moreso than DA:O. One thing I dislike about the Mage playthrough, is your sibling, damn Carver. He has a set attitude to hate/despise of anything wearing a robe and can cast a fireball. Definite Templar material, to the point I wouldn't be surprised if after Act1, you find out he's joined them or something... I do like seeing all the old familiar faces from DA:O return in cameo's though. Bodahn and Sandal, the Templar Cullen, the Dalish Elves (who if you played DA:O as a Dalish Elf Warden, these elves are the clan your Warden came from) and others. I'm starting to get more into this game, and I think on multiple playthroughs (Which I will inevitably do) I'll probably get into it more.

Still... I admit I'm worried about Mass Effect 3, as DAII (to me that is) reeks of EA's involvement/dictatorship in making the game more 'action oriented' instead of 'fully RPG'. Don't get me wrong, the more I play, the more I'm starting to like it... but I admit, I'm concerned about BioWare's other projects which I'm interested in (Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars The Old Republic).

Vrykolas
03-16-2011, 07:04 AM
Completed it earlier today, and I'm still sorting through exactly what I thought about the game.

Basically though, I thought it was pretty decent, occasionally great, but often quite frustrating too. It was however, certainly much better than the avalanche of hatred on the internet would suggest.

The game frequently reminded me of Alpha Protocol. There was the obvious similarity of the interrogation as the basis for telling the story, the dialogue options were handled the same (i.e 'Cordial, irreverent or aggressive), there was the wry observations you could make looking at stuff in your house, etc etc.

There was also a greater emphasis on tying your main character into the drama in an emotional way (the game is basically a really, really long origin story for Hawke). Previous Bioware heroes have either been silent protagonists or pretty unmovable (in an emotional sense) badass action heroes like Shepard.

Like with AP's scene at the end of the Rome section for example, there are moments where your character is overcome with despair at what has happened, and that's a refreshing change of pace. Scenes like those really help you connect with the character in more than a 'I'm the hardest person ever' kind of way.

Wasn't in love with the lack of persuade in this game, though. They've gone from one extreme to the other, from having characters who can talk their way out of anything, to a character and game world where diplomacy almost always fails. Sometimes, the conversation take truly bizarre 180 turns, where everyone is agreeing to compromise and someone will suddenly say:

'Yes, I agree... but now I will kill you all!'

Other times, you meet people who just attack on sight, despite your reputation clearly marking you as someone who would be friendly to their cause etc. Very annoying.


I couldn't say that this is my favourite Bioware game, but it has its moments for sure. I really liked the second act of the game, especially. I just felt that the last act was far too railroaded. In general as well, I felt like the choices i did make often had no impact on overall events, whereas when I wanted to remain neutral and find middle ground, the game would force me into one of 2 polarised opinions, neither of which I supported.

The game definately could have used some more work. Weighty events and dire outcomes are made more acceptable to players if they are at least given a choice of bad outcomes. Just forcing certain things on you, is bound to (and has) angered many.

But for all it does wrong, the game does plenty of things right, too. Its Bioware's first truly sucessful foray into darker material. I like my games dark, and I scoffed at the notion that games like ME2 were dark and edgy. But DA2 actually is a pretty dark game, and for the most part, handles it well.

And like I say, it reminds me of Alpha Protocol, which I consider to be no bad thing at all.

Also like AP, the framework of a truly great game is all there. If it had just polished up the rough edges, and tweaked a few choices here and there, fixed some obvious niggles like not being able to give allies new armour etc, this would have been one of the best RPGs of this gen.

As it stands, it has too many problems for that to be the case. But just for me personally, it has done all the things that I needed Bioware to do, to reaffirm my loyalty to them as a company.

Because the game is an interesting deviation from Bioware's standard (and I felt increasingly tired) formula, and proof that they have more than one set of tricks up their sleeves. The focus on more down to earth, emotional stories, and not falling back on the 'You are the last of your line, destined to defeat Habbacchekkkawahhhxxxll the Great' was hugely encouraging.

Darth Revan
03-16-2011, 07:51 AM
I finished this as a Mage... I have to admit, while the story did start slow, it did work. I found myself getting more in touch with the characters and their individual stories/quests.

One part which actually did make me stop and think a bit: Anders and his 'solution'. Having the option to either 'save him' or 'kill him' for what he did. While on one hand I understand why he did it, on the other I can't condone what he did. Ultimately though I chose to 'save him', and seeing the reactions of my companions range from outrage to indifference, added more to the overall situation. I'll probably do different with my next playthrough, but the moral choices in this game you have to make... I admit, I wasn't to fussed about DAII when I first heard of it, or even when I played the demo... however, apart from some minor glitches (during CS's frame skip etc), it is a good game.

Also, the ending is rather ambiguous and it's obvious it's leading off into a third game, with obvious comparisons to Revan (Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic) and the Exile (Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords) with the Warden (Revan) and Champion (Exile).

One other thing though... I don't personally feel it's worth the $109.95 price tag (In Australia), as it is too short for a full priced game. Just a minor problem, which doesn't detract from the overall game itself. Though... I admit I'm a little annoyed that some of the Achievements don't unlock (The Exiled Prince DLC), though apparently Microsoft/BioWare are working on a patch to fix that... supposedly.

Smarty
03-16-2011, 04:20 PM
I'm only about 2 hours in right now, but for me it's so far so good. I'll be able to talk more in depth about it after I finish it and maybe do a few sidequests if I have the time.

How long would you say it takes to finish? I only rented it and have about a week to complete it, so I want to know.

Darth Revan
03-16-2011, 04:44 PM
For me, and with doing all of the sidequests, took about 30 hours... roughly. Sadly, it's a short game, with only three Acts. However it does span about 10 years, storywise. Keep an eye out for cameo's from some characters from Dragon Age: Origins/Awakening.

Vrykolas
03-18-2011, 02:22 AM
Awkward party selection was an issue for me, perhaps even more so than in Dragon Age: Origins. Because whilst you don't *need* a tank, or even a Healer like you pretty much did in DAO, the game is significantly easier if you do have those two elements. And yet there is only 1 proper tank (Aveline) and 1 proper Healer (Anders).

My first playthrough was as Rogue, so I couldn't deputise as either position. This meant that i felt compelled to use Aveline and Anders. I almost certainly would have used Aveline anyway, but I didn't take to Anders very much, and really didn't want to use him. But the only alternative was to have no Healer, which seemed an absurd choice.

It also meant that I pretty much had to pardon him at the end, even though my first instinct was to kill him for what he'd done.


The game is very strict about playing styles, this time round. Warriors for example, cannot use bows (which is basically the main reason I opted for Rogue - I was an extremely law abiding Rogue lol). Your party members are similarly hamstrung - Varric *has* to be a ranged Rogue, whilst Isabela *has* to be a combat Rogue.

The lack of warriors is also pretty concerning. DAO had 4 warrior companions, which made sense, as warriors are the companions you will probably have the most need of. But this game has only 2 permanent warriors. And if you're playing as a Mage, you're saddled with the knowledge that Carver and Fenris really hate mages, so taking a pro mage stance, leads to frequent rivalry.

Aveline is slightly more laid back (although she's still slightly more pro Templar than pro Mage), but only if you're playing a Good Mage. If you're playing a more Renegade style mage, none of the warriors will get on with you!

The smaller number of permanent companions, and ease with which you can lose some of them is also an issue. I lost Isabela on my first playthrough, declined Fenris' offer to join the party (as I felt his anti-mage stance was too disruptive, considering my cloest allies were Bethany and Merril), and along with the toll the story demands, that left me with hardly anyone at the end!

I have to say as well, that I felt this was a pretty weak party of characters. Most of them were at least reasonably likeable, and several of them work well together in banter, but if none of them made it into a sequel, I wouldn't be all that bothered.


Story-wise, I felt the first 2 acts were fairly good (Act 2 in particular is very good indeed, but then the Qunari were always my favourite race in Dragon Age). The Deep Roads were a little underwhelming after all the build up they got, but I think I missed the most dramatic bit, because of a lucky choice I'd made.

Act 3 wasn't that great at all, though. I thought Anders' OTT plan was pretty ridiculous, and very out of keeping with the game's realistic feel. Orsino and Meredith are both introduced too late to have that much impact (mainly because Act 3 is so short, and generally quite poor compared to the previous Acts).

And the revelation of why Meredith has been being particularly hard line in the final act, is a bit of a 'Chekhov's Gun' cop-out...


I think the game really needed to make more out of the third act, to properly set up the next game. As it is, the game just kind of stumbles and collapses over the finish line, rather than coming to any satisfying resolution. It also had the unfortunate effect of cementing my character's status as a fairly ineffectual Hero.

Because no matter what I did, the game was always making me fail to save people, constantly thwarted my attempts to reach peaceful and amicable solutions, and ended the game with a large scale wave of revolutions starting up (as a direct result of my actions - actions that the game had forced me into), that I in no way supported.

I was a character who saw the need for the Circle and the need for proper regulation of mages, but also that they were still people, and deserved to be treated with human dignity. I constantly strove to find a way for both sides to co-exist, but the game wasn't having any of it.

Time and again, I proved to Anders that Templars weren't just uncaring monsters, and he agreed each time, gaining me friendship points from him as he did so. But then he suddenly goes right back to square one with that stupid plan of his (which I refused to help him with, but which suceeded anyway).

Not that I would have had much problem with that, because downer endings aren't necessarily a bad thing, if they lead to a sequel where you get the chance to make things right (Empire Stirkes Back being the classic example). I was just irritated that I didn't get to see and/or choose to have Hawke voice displeasure and despair over how things had turned out.

So its just that final third Act which bugged me, really. I quite enjoyed the story, other than that. I did feel that the interrogation wasn't handled very well in the end, though. Its easy to completely forget about it for large sections of the game, and there are only a couple of times when it adds all that much to the experience (specifically the end of Act 1, and the bit where Varric embellishes the story of busting into his brother's mansion).

The vague, non committal ending is also a pretty poor reward for your pains.

So plenty of niggles that pick away at my enjoyment of the game. But like I said earlier, its still a very enjoyable and refreshingly experimental game from Bioware. People who claim its just a dumbed down version of Origins are ignoring the brave departures from forumula that Bioware have made in so many other areas.

Slicey
03-22-2011, 05:09 AM
omfgfenris

I thought the ending was lame and I was disappointed. Compared to Origins, this game is way too short. I only spend 40 hours on it )with lots of idling time)!

And the romancing isn't as fun, but the kissing scenes are way better!

Vrykolas
03-22-2011, 08:16 PM
What do people consider to be long though, these days? 40 hours isn't bad, and WRPGs tend to have plenty of replay value. Origins only clocked in at about 50 hours.

Darth Revan
03-22-2011, 11:45 PM
40 Hours? ... I must've done something wrong as it took me about 30 hours to complete. I admit, I miss the days of when games took 99 hours or so to finish... now, too short.

Slicey
03-23-2011, 03:32 AM
I had a lot of just... idling hours. and go places I didn't need to go. I wasted a lot of time doing nothing :zillawalk:

Vrykolas
03-23-2011, 03:45 AM
Also consider that the game's combat is more of a button bashing 'kill hordes of guys with a single sweep' than it was in DAO. By which I mean, you don't need to pause the game, and assign actions in the way you did in the first game. Most fights are easy enough that you can just wade in with no real plan, and still prevail.

That cuts a lot of time out of the overall experience. The first game was considered to be quite hard by today's standards. If you didn't understand the threat system properly, or just assumed you'd be fine without a proper tank, didn't give respect to how deadly enemy archers and especially mages were etc, you'd get buried in no time flat.

Enemy mages seem *far* less powerful in this game. In DAO, meeting 2 enemy mages was something to dread, but in this game, I found they didn't do an awful lot. The only mages who seemed 'KIll them quickly or else' material this time, were Blood Mages (and even then, only when they were using Haemorrage). Enemy archers also don't seem nearly as big a deal this time round (they can no longer stun your whole party for example).

And just generally, previously formiddable foes like Revenants, Arcane Horrors etc crop up much more often and are far, far easier to kill. Even when you factor in the vastly greater numbers of enemies who attack you at once, all but the most important fights tend to be over much quicker than those in DAO.

Slicey
03-23-2011, 04:33 AM
OH yeah, I was amazed at how easy it was to kill Revenants and Arcane Horrors. However, there is one part where there are just waves of Shades, there's an Arcane Horror, a Golem, Rage Demons, and a Revenant which I just couldn't do as a mage. I went back later in Act3, but it had turned into something else already--missed my chance.

chewey
03-23-2011, 04:56 AM
30-50 hours is heaps. A shot game is more like... 5 hours.

Vrykolas
03-23-2011, 05:09 AM
You're talking about that cave by the Dalish Camp, yes? That is a very stiff challenge, because it chucks in hordes and hordes of shades, abominations, a Desire Demon, an Arcane Horror, some Rage Demons... the whole gang really!

If that is the bit you're talking about, that's a fight that you either go Blitzkrieg (3 warriors, 1 Mage or 2 warriors, combat Rogue and a mage), or you have to use peeling, to draw some of the enemies into the corridor without drawing everyone in.

I found the best solution was to keep my team in the corridor at the far end (you can't go any further, because the door closes until the fight's over). Get everyone to hold position, then manually take a ranged fighter (Rogue or Mage) up to the entrance and very carefully, start luring people out. Try to lure enemies from across the room, as this (oddly) doesn't attract enemies near the door.

So long as you keep everyone still at the end, retreating your lure back once the enemies are on their way and letting your party move only when the enemies are right on top of you, you can peel off a few waves.

Ideally, you want to lure the Rage Demons and the Revenant if you can get him, into the corridor and sort them out without the Arcane Horror and Desire Demon joining in. Otherwise, its just too much, given that you're also drowning in shades and abominations etc. The fight will also 'end' after you kill these small waves, allowing you to save.

The Arcane Horror tends to camp to the left of the door, and will generally not get involved until someone actually enters the room fully, attacks it, or if you lure the shades etc to the right of the door. Luring the enemies from the other side of the room (like the Rage Demons), doesn't tend to bother the AH, so long as you don't actually set foot in the room.


Peeling is very useful in this game, because the 'Move to Point' feature makes it *so* much easier to direct your party around the map now. The battle against Grace and her warband of Blood Mages and Templars near the end on the Wounded Coast is another battle royale that becomes much easier if you just hoof it away into the gullys near the combat area, and conduct the battle from there.

Slicey
03-23-2011, 05:54 AM
Oh, I didn't think about being tactical. Haha, that sounds way better than my "ok going in now, lets try to keep it in this corner guys OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING DON'T GO OVER THERE-NOW WE'RE BEING DOGPILED THANKS ASSHOLES" And then we all die.

I would have me (mage), Fenris, Aveline, and either Varric. I tried waititng to get to a higher level, but by the time I remembered it was act3

Vrykolas
03-23-2011, 01:26 PM
That's the standard 'Tank, DPS warrior, ranged Rogue and Mage' setup, pretty much the classic 'covers all bases' team. It worked just fine in the first game, but I sometimes found myself wanting a third combat fighter in the really tough battles.

You get attacked by so many people, that when hordes are joined by 2 or more of the more hardy foes, your tank often isn't doing enough damage to help you stay on top of things. Add in that the CPU is pretty awful at controlling archers and mages (because those roles require some good judgement about what talents to use and when, who to fire at etc).

Plus the CPU controlled mage and Rogue party members are hopeless at defending themselves from flanking enemies. YOu can set their tactics to use Mind Blast etc, but then they just sit there like lemons and don't try to run away. You have a careful eye on those party members at all times in the longer fights, if you are aren't controlling them.

Its a balancing act. Sometimes its better to go with more warriors, sometimes with more mages (mages have high resistance to magic from their high Magic stat, and so fare very well against enemy mages for example).

I also think that whilst you need them to pick locks, Rogues are a character class that only really shine if you are controlling them. The computer just can't take full advatange of their Stealth and ability to have combat and ranged weapons.

Smarty
03-26-2011, 02:43 PM
Well, I just finished Dragon Age II as well and I'm a bit at a loss for words. I agree with Aniki for the most part.


The game is like a roller coaster with it's ups and downs.

Though the game has a lot more ups than I expected it to (it was kind of a shock really). It was really the story that drew me in unexpectedly. Act 1 was kind of timid, nothing too exciting. But I have to say after that I was immediately hooked. There are some design decisions I certainly disagree with, but overall, I can confidently state that I consider DA2 an outstanding achievement and one hell of a game. And I didn't see it coming whatsoever.

Shame the gameplay was mostly press X to win, and the level design was dreadful. With a little more time, Dragon Age II could have been so much better. Still, I firmly believe BioWare is an extremely talented studio after having played this. To make a game that is this good in such a short time? Amazing. Now if only EA wasn't in such a hurry to make money...

Slicey
03-26-2011, 05:56 PM
Going in for a round two.

Aniki
03-28-2011, 01:30 AM
With a little more time, Dragon Age II could have been so much better. Still, I firmly believe BioWare is an extremely talented studio after having played this.

I agree if they put more effort to it the game could've become a true classic for the next generations.
Since DA was a major disappointment to me, I didn't have high hopes for DA2, still, it's nice to see that DA2 is a little better than it's predecessor (in some departments at least)

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