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Jeff Vogel Reviews Dragon Age II

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Jeff Vogel Reviews Dragon Age II

Review - posted by Jaesun on Fri 15 April 2011, 16:22:36

Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age II; Jeff Vogel

Jeff Vogel has written up a small review for Dragon Age II on his blog:

Since I raved so enthusiastically in this space about Dragon Age: Origins (and Bioware games in general), I suppose I really should say something about Dragon Age II as well. This one is a bit trickier.
A lot of skilled people worked really hard over an overly-short period of time to make this game, and I strongly suspect that most of its problems were out of their control, due to directives from above. 
The best place to see this confusion is over on Metacritic. As of this writing, reviewers have given the game an entirely respectable score of 82 (out of 100). Players, on the other hand, have given Dragon Age II a dismal 4.3 out of 10. That is a huge gap!
Dragon Age II is a flawed but basically competent and enjoyable action-RPG. 82 out of 100 is a B-, and Dragon Age II is a pretty solid B- of a game.
In fact, suppose it didn't have Dragon Age in the title at all. Suppose it was called, say, "Bioware Presents: A Dude Named Hawke Buys a Big House and Has Wacky Adventures."
If this was the case, I honestly believe the result would be considered a lesser but worthy member of the Bioware canon, something pleasing to pass the time while waiting for Dragon Age II.
If you got Dragon Age II expecting something more like Dragon Age: Origins, you are going to face a period of harsh disappointment.
Nobody puts great writing in games like Bioware. Dragon Age II didn't contain as much of that Dragon Age Magic (tm) as I might have hoped for, but it was a beautifully written game. The characters didn't grab me instantly in the way they did in the previous game, but they really grew on me, especially Varric. When my companions talked to each other, I always stopped whatever I was doing to listen.
Considering how crappy most video game writing is, I really think we shouldn't take Bioware for granted!
I loved the skill trees. The mix of abilities, constant effects, and passive bonuses, combined with being able to decide between getting new abilities and making old ones better, made training very interesting. I retrained my characters several times and found that it was possible to customize my characters for a number of different play styles, which is always good.
The combat did involve a lot of button mashing, but the abilities were varied and dramatic enough that I was rarely bored.
The way the game throws reinforcements into the battlefield deserves some mockery. They are scattered in at random, sometimes literally dropping from the sky before your eyes. If they had entered the fray in a less immersion-breaking way (say, running from deeper in the dungeon), it would have worked better. However, this basic idea of how to structure combat shows a lot of potential, and I hope other games explore it. (Which is my way of saying:  I really should steal that idea.)
Damn EA. You can read the full review here.
Thanks Alexandros!

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