Dragon Age II Review (Page 2)

Updated Thu, Mar 31, 2011 by borticus

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Value

90GreatAs mentioned earlier, I've already spent more than 100 hours in Dragon Age II, enjoying the many stories that have been offered to my characters. For the current price of $60.00 USD, I feel as though I've gotten my money's worth.

However, not everyone is looking for the same type of game. DA2 is very heavy on dialogue, and rewards players for exploring deeper into conversations than appears immediately necessary. It takes between 30 and 40 hours to experience everything the primary campaign has to offer, but it's likely possible to power through in as little as 15-20 if you don't like to explore side missions. Even still, with more than 75% of that time is spent listening to people talk and responding to them, it's not a game for folks that are seeking combat and action on a more regular and uninterrupted basis.



For me, an interactive cinematic fantasy epic sounds incredible. I'm deeply pleased with my purchase, and it even came with a few unexpected DLC bonuses (Black Emporium and Exiled Prince) to make it an even better value.

Lasting Appeal

70OkayReplay and DLC are the only factors that can give a game of this type any long-term appeal. And while Bioware has never shied away from offering extensive DLC package choices for their RPG titles, each comes with its own price tag that can range from a few dollars, to as much as $20. The actual value that each adds to the overall gameplay experience is debateable at best, but players generally react poorly to being nickel-and-dimed to death by pack after pack of purchased content.



The replay value is limited, although there are two primary roles that Hawke may play that have a distinct impact on the way the story plays out: Mage and Non-Mage. While most side quests don't acknowledge this distinction, the core plotlines at least pay lip service to it if not outright offering completely different outcomes based on this initial choice. Only the most die-hard completist really needs to pursue these however, as the ultimate results of these plots are all the same. It's only the journey that changes, not the destination. It's up to each player to determine which is more important to experience.

To assist with the replay experience, for players that want to experience as many different nuances of different stories as possible, DA2 offers players the opportunity to choose from 3 pre-made DA:O save game "imports" in addition to importing your own original game. These options change a few of the side quests offered in each playthrough, as well as altering a few of the backstories of Hawke and his/her companions in small ways. It's nothing major, but it's a nice touch that hasn't previously been included in Bioware's RPGs.

Pros and Cons


Pro Con
  • Incredibly rich story, even when it doesn't matter
  • Top-notch voice acting
  • Lip sync is impressively authentic
  • Long hours of enjoyment
  • Drastically improved UI over predecessor
  • Sound effects and soundtrack have a perfect flavor
  • Plenty of replay value for completists
  • Lackluster lighting technology and graphical details
  • DX11 support is spotty, frequent crashes
  • Combat system and skill trees still unintuitive
  • Excessive inventory management
  • Unending re-use of maps and textures
  • High price if you're not intending to replay

Conclusion

ENCHANTMENT!

Playing through the depth and awe of such a fantastically crafted series of stories and legends is a remarkable experience. But perhaps not one that is meant for everyone. And despite the impressive scope and craftsmanship of the story, DA2 suffers from a lack of polish on various mechanics, ranging from UI implementation to graphics and lighting.

There is no denying that this game is a stand-out product and another definite milestone in the continued evolution of single-player RPG epics. But to turn a blind eye to its blemishes simply because its story and voice acting are such incredible work, would be a dis-service to the industry, and to gamers. Calling them game-breakers, however, would be inaccurate and insulting to the hard work of Bioware's talented development staff. Sure, the game has its warts, but in the end they are outshone by the sheer enjoyment that comes from playing this title, and becoming the Champion of Kirkwall.



borticus Review at Ten Ton Hammer

  • Game Name: Dragon Age II
  • Review Date: March 30th, 2011
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