This is a long due review. I had actually finished the game quite some time ago but was too busy to write up my thoughts. In fact, I remain nearly as lazy as before so this will be an assortment of collected thoughts, devoid of any semblance of organization and train of thought.
It’s typically the case I will dislike a game that has somehow ended up finding a following of fanboys/fangirls who swear by it. They will give it perfect 10s and comment about the “amazing graphics” and the “engaging story” and the “beautiful environments”. It is in that regard that Dragon Age 2 is very much an atypical game to me. There are many gamers who dislike the game (often because the developers didn’t do something exactly the way they would have preferred it, no less), but I liked it a lot. And metacritic mostly agrees with me.
It’s true: the graphics aren’t great, the storyline isn’t particularly engaging, and it’s hard to say the environment is particularly beautiful when it recycles a lot of similar spaces and you spend 80% of the game in one giant town. So what’s to like? The combat. And yes, that is one of the points of contention between me liking the game and others not. I thought it was a positive improvement on Dragon Age 1, which felt a little rubberbandy and slow. You often had to focus a single target for forever before you moved onto the next. DA2 felt more actiony, like WoW, and targets died in a timely manner. You actually felt the impact of your most powerful moves. Very satisfying. Good or bad, I found myself trying to get through conversations as quickly as possible just so I could fight again, which was not the case with DA1.
One complaint I have for both DA games is that there is typically one boss battle that is impossible to do normally unless you exploit it. I’m specifically referring to kiting the boss, which has generally been considered a viable strategy in many other games with difficult opponents, but I am not a fan. It disengages me from the fantasy of the combat.
The storyline is interesting. At the beginning, you have no idea what the point of your character’s being is. You are referred to as the “Champion of Kirkwall” and yet what that has to do with anything is unclear. Even after you’ve been playing for a few hours, everything you do feels very disconnected. And that is the crux of most of the complaints about story. But if you’re paying attention, you’ll know that the whole game is actually a story being told by someone who likes a little embellishment now and then (a funny moment relating to that pops up later in the game). And when you’re telling a complicated story to someone, you always have to start from the beginning to work your way up to the climax. What’s brilliant is that exact thing happens. All the bits and pieces that seem random all of a sudden come together at the end. And then you’re like “Ohhhhh.. Whoaaaa.” But up until that point, you don’t really know what your motivation is, hence the lack of engaging storyline.
Graphics I won’t spend time on. I notice when it’s good, but I don’t care when it’s bad. Dragon Age is not the HD experience you’ll get from such games as Call of Duty or Crysis, but I don’t think it was meant to be.
There are characters you’ll fall in love with. Both figuratively and literally. Both in-game and in real life. At the end of the day, all the issues people complained about were easy to look over because I could just turn back to my Merrill, talk to her, kill demons with her, and everything would be fine.