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Dragon Age II Review

Brad Gallaway's picture

A Rushed Waste of Time and Money

Dragon Age II Screenshot

HIGH A brief (and fictitious) mid-game scene description from Varric.

LOW Everything else.

WTF The immense drop in quality was inconceivable until I saw it for myself.

Something's gone absolutely rotten in the house of BioWare.

Dragon Age II was slated to be one of the highest-profile releases of 2011—a can't-miss blockbuster to captivate the imaginations of RPG enthusiasts everywhere. The hotly anticipated return to the realm of Thedas was talked about as a project that would not only fix the original Dragon Age: Origin's rough patches, but build upon its strengths and tell a much grander story over the span of a decade. Ironically, not only did Dragon Age II fail to meet these goals, it didn't even begin to approach the high points of its predecessor. Repetitive, tedious, shallow, rushed and sloppy, this sequel is a complete failure in every respect.

The "adventure" begins with the player selecting a character type (Warrior, Mage or Rogue) and then fleeing the Darkspawn horde that ravaged the land in the original Dragon Age. While these events will be familiar to those who quested with the Grey Wardens last time around, it's soon revealed that the game isn't a sequel so much as it is a side story.

With the wealth of material hinted at in Origins, it makes a kind of sense to let players in on events that were transpiring elsewhere in the land. However, the plot, setting, dialogue and characters are all shockingly slapdash and unsatisfying.  If you had asked me prior to Dragon Age II, I would have said that BioWare had some of the best writers in the business—possibly the best. However, I'm sad to report that former prowess is nowhere to be seen in this game.

To start with, the cast of teammates as well as the central hero (or heroine) feel like shallow sketches, rather than fully-fleshed characters. Meetings and events happen quickly and without much of the required pacing, and at no point did I feel any sort of connection with them. Companion quests meant to illustrate each character are tossed at the player in regular intervals with no fanfare or build-up beforehand, leaving each "growth moment" feeling unconvincing, mechanical and false. Instead of people the player grows to know over the course of the adventure, these faces are more like boxes to be checked off in pursuit of unlocking a skill tree.

Dragon Age II Screenshot

Wholly apart from the characters themselves, Dragon Age II's plot is every bit as miserable. Structured as a "framed narrative" featuring sequences taken from a ten-year period of time, what I actually got is a thin, unfocused series of things happening that had no dramatic weight and failed to keep my attention.

For some reason, BioWare thought that dropping a character into a city and watching them meddle in quasi-political affairs while cooling their heels for a decade would be just as entertaining as going on an epic adventure. Surprise—it's not. There's just no overarching goal; no purpose to the story. The laundry-list of errands taking up the first 15 hours or so seem present for no particular reason at all, and the attempt to "tie it all together" at game's end is a weak stab at making sense of nonsense.

Continuing the sequence of poor decisions, the "new, revamped" combat mechanics were one of the most talked-about changes to the original formula. Sadly, the developers fundamentally misunderstand what was wrong with encounters in the first place—if you ask me, the fatal flaw was crippling the strategy element for consoles. While BioWare's dubious remedy to lukewarm player response was to let gamers "push a button and have something awesome happen," the result is still a chaotic mess.

While it's true that player attacks (usually) happen immediately after an input, I fail to see what the advantage is aside from being a purely aesthetic change. Special abilities still use cooldowns, and now instead of simply selecting the appropriate target and having the AI execute basic attacks, the player is forced to mash a button until another special is available. It's a hell of a lot of thumb fatigue for no good reason.

Worse, every fight basically plays out the same, with players constantly mobbed by pop-in enemies. It makes even rudimentary tactical play impossible (which was the first game's problem, if you'll recall) and utterly destroys player buy-in at the same time. For example, when fighting a non-magical group of knights at a seaside, new reinforcement troops literally dropped out of the sky onto my party. I could hardly believe my eyes. From any perspective, this out-of-nowhere ambush method is a pile of steaming garbage. I don't know who approved this absurd system, but the battles are distasteful, tedious chores that wear away at a sane person's patience.

Dragon Age II Screenshot

Oh, and level design? Dragon Age II completely fumbles here as well. The graphics for each environment are sparse and sterile, not at all convincing as the huge, bustling city the player's home is supposed to be. In fairness, one badly-designed locale wouldn't be a big deal under normal circumstances, but in Dragon Age II, the entire game takes place in this same city.

Imagine being stuck in one level with precious little exploration and most areas made up of simple hallways for twenty or thirty hours, and the unpleasantness becomes clear.  Adding insult to injury, the player will see the exact same areas being recycled over and over and over and over again, further destroying any potential for Dragon Age's world to be a place of adventure and wonder. Thedas now feels boring, it feels cheap, and the developers should be ashamed of how small and sparse the environments are. The tiny number of unique areas is so absurd, it's got to be someone's idea of a joke.

In terms of actual programming, Dragon Age II isn't nearly as polished as one would expect from a AAA-level release. The day-one launch DLC's Achievements on 360 were glitched and un-earnable, certain quests appear in the quest list before they can be undertaken, quest markers are inconsistently used, I personally had the game crash three separate times, and I've heard many reports of deleted saves, bugged team mechanics and other assorted weirdness—and that's not even taking into account the ever-present loading screens that occur when moving from one area to the next. Since the game is not a visual powerhouse and each locale is as simple as could be, the frequent loads are especially grating. There's no reason I should spend more time looking at loading screens than playing.

Defying all expectations, BioWare managed to take one of the most memorable Western RPGs in recent history and completely destroyed everything that made it so good. I have absolutely no idea how such a respected development house could have made so many colossal mistakes and turned out such an unpleasantly rushed, shallow, utter waste of time... but they did, and it is. I forced myself to play the game to completion despite wanting to quit out of disgust and boredom at least a dozen times before credits rolled, but I shouldn't have bothered. The insulting level of quality in Dragon Age II is perfectly clear to see from the first hour or two, and everything that comes after is just more salt in the wound. Rating: 2.5 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail store and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 22 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains blood and gore, language, sexual content and violence. To make a long story short, this game should not be played by children. Although it's not the most explicit thing I've ever seen, there are plenty of situations that I would not want my child to be exposed to, and the overall tone of the game is clearly slanted towards adult players. This is one instance when the ESRB disclaimers are both totally accurate and totally appropriate, so please keep this title away from little ones.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You shouldn't have any problems. All spoken dialogue in the game is accompanied by optional subtitles, and there are no significant auditory cues during gameplay. It may be a terrible game, but it is an accessible one.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3   PC  
Developer(s): BioWare  
Publisher: Electronic Arts  
Series: Dragon Age  
Genre(s): Role-Playing  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Ridiculous review

A 2.5? Honestly? There are flaws with this game, to be sure, the recycled environments chief among them. But there is no way this game should be anywhere near a 2.5.

The whole thing takes place in one city. *Gasp* You mean, like it does in Baldur's Gate 2, one of the most consistently revered CRPGs in history, a game that made Bioware a household name in the first place? Or like The Witcher, one of the most popular modern RPGs?

People are so quick to jump on the bashing bandwagon for this game that they don't stop to think about whether or not it deserves the criticism. It's pretty sad that gamers can't accept any variation on the "big bad" plot formula. If you want a "bad guy", you've got one: Meredith. But this game's plot is about far more realistic and interesting conflicts than one eeeevil threat you have to vanquish. And you are given dozens and dozens of ways to influence the way that story is told.

The characters were some of the best developed and most interesting I've encountered in an RPG, and I've played all the big ones (and lots of small ones too). But you can't change their armor so they must be worthless, right?

I've mostly stopped reading comments and reviews about this game because they're so absurd but I just had to see how someone would justify giving it a 2.5. You didn't even come close to it. This is not a site to which I will ever return.

Having the guts to say this

Thanks Brad for having the guts to come out and say all this. There is no shortage of vitriol for DA2 among the masses but mainstream media and other considered writers seem scared to give this title any more than a light slap on the wrist for its shortcomings.

I agree that the failures on all fronts apparent in DA2 are just unacceptable, and doubly so coming from Bioware off the back of the genuinely brilliant DAO. It looks as though they thought they put so much work building up the franchise for DAO that they can afford to cash in and make a quick buck with half-arsed sequel.

More people need to call them out on this, and the more credible articles - not just maddening flame wars - that state the blunt truth the better.

Opposites attract

This is so harsh... but then again, this is why I keep coming here : )

I'll be totally honest though: if anything, this review and all the negative buzz surrounding this game make me want to play it even more. In a way, it's like all this hate floating around liberates me from having to feel it myself, and allows me to just focus on the things I want to like. It also becomes more INTERESTING, since the experience becomes just as much about my personal enjoyment than about the critical conversation. It happened with Final Fantasy XIII, which I never intended to play at first but became fascinated by. And since my two trials of the DA2 demo left me with a good overall impression, I just might give it a spin at some point.

Happily enough, overwhelming positive buzz doesn't have the opposite effect on me (case in point: Demon's Souls : )


The likes of Ben Croshaw couldn't have slaughtered a game any better. Excellent review, Brad. You've made it out of the quagmire, integrity intact.

Tried the Dragon Age 2 demo


I tried the demo and I didn't like it too much, but I was waiting for Brad's review before deciding if the purchase could be worthy or not.

Obviously, I think I'm not going to spend a single $ to buy this game, after all. Most of the points commented in the review can be noticed playing just the demo, but I had faith in Bioware, and I thought that maybe the mistakes could be fixed somehow in the other levels of the game. It seems I was completely wrong.

This must be a lesson for all of us: It doesn't matter who the developer of a game is. You have to check out the quality of every game before opening your wallet. The release price of DA2 in my country is above 60$...

And Brad, I love the way you guys talk about games. If the game is no good at all, you show no mercy. That's the way it should always be, but there are many websites that have given a 8/10 to this game only because it's a AAA game created by Bioware. You can be proud of your work. This is what makes GC such a good videogames website.


One of the few honest reviews of DA2. Spot on commentary and a thorough critique of the game.

I felt it was so bad I couldn't even bring myself to finish it, so well done for getting that far.

Bye Bye BioWare...

I gave the game eight hours before returning it for a full refund the next day.
Unlike you, I was not required to submit a review of the game and therefore not obligated to slog through what was evidently a rushed and ill-conceived sequel. I wasn't altogether happy with Mass Effect 2 either but at least it wasn't so obviously rushed.

Brad, this high profile sequel to a well received game published by an industry heavyweight has generated an interesting situation; namely that by and large it has been well reviewed by the most popular sites but very poorly reviewed by users on Metacritic and a handful of smaller sites.

Rarely is there such a WIDE chasm. Your thoughts? A future article perhaps?

BG2 in only one city?!?

Jason Farrell wrote:

The whole thing takes place in one city. *Gasp* You mean, like it does in Baldur's Gate 2, one of the most consistently revered CRPGs in history, a game that made Bioware a household name in the first place?

You're wrong, very wrong. Baldurs Gate 2 didn't take place in only one city. It took you across a continent, into the drow underworld and let you have castles of your own. Saying that Baldurs Gate 2 would have the same narrow focus as Dragon Age 2 or the Witcher is an insult to Baldurs Gate.

Give me a break

This is nothing more than a rant designed to get hits to the website. I've seen it before on Gamecritics, but never to this shocking of a degree.

This "review" is clearly designed to agree with the user reviews on Metacritic which are filled with hundreds of moronic PC gamers who consider streamlining the same as "dumbing down." Bioware neither a.) sold out nor b.) stopped becoming a good developer. I thought game reviewers were supposed to have some degree of journalistic integrity? Clearly Brad Gallaway has none, as this is one of the most poorly executed reviews of a good (not great) game that I have ever seen.

Congratulations on losing a longtime reader to your site. But I'm sure the dozens of hits from Metacritic for the next few weeks will make you all feel like this nonsense is excusable.

Appropriate score

Nice to see a semi-mainstream site give an appropriate score instead of the usual 9/10 for AAA titles.

Here, have a couple free hits from me as a gift of appreciation.

Used to go to Bioware for characters

RE:comment number 1. I can see why you lamely went to criticise Baldurs Gate: it a game many people says Bioware in general, if not simply with Dragon Age, should aspire to try and recreate. However in future you might want to grasp a rudimentary understand of the game. Anyone who claims it all takes place in the city Baldurs Gate clearly hasnt played the game at all. In fact it would be much more accurate to say only the games climax takes place there, with the rest taking place outside the city.

Anyway, in short: either play the game and criticse it properly or stop grasping at silly straws to defend this turd of a game called DA2.

Now on to the actual review.

Ill keep it short, but again I want to say good job. With the game being as bad as it is, I think scores like this should have been much more common. Sadly I think Biowares fast decreasing reputation gets them preferential treatment when it comes to both positive and negative views.

I will highlight one thing in particular though: characters.

I always used to go to Bioware for characters I could really enjoy and connect with. Now it seems I can only go to them for smutty or snarky dialogue (and even that gets scaled back to insignificance).

The rest is handled via idiotic checklist missions. Its the second game now from Bioware where most of an underdeveloped, unlikeable casts main "character development" has hinged on "do my errand". Why? Why not do like ME1 and DAO did, and build a relationship by experiencing the main events of the story with these characters?

Bar two exceptions in ME2 - those being Mordin and Samara (one for comic relief, the other because I liked her backstory, facial features and voice acting) - I found the cast varied between forgettable and unlikeable. The main reason is because instead of going on an epic adventure and experiencing it with these characters, I would be resigned to running an errand that almost always came down to simply killing waves of enemies and listening to a few scattered conversations.

I cant even be bothered to consider DAIII.

Mass Effect 3 however? Im very worried.

The Witcher also didn't take place in one city

But The Witcher also didn't take place in one city only! The first and -AFAIR - fourth chapter take place in the country: moreover, the whole scope of the story is more country-wise, than city-wise; it mostly takes place in Vizima, it's true, but that's because it is the CAPITAL city of Temeria!


Thanks for the review. Initially I wanted to wait for the GC review but went ahead and bought it.

To me console version (PS3) is more fun and 'action spam' than origins which I hated on console.
System of choice is PC though and I enjoyed DA2 and plan maybe not 200 hours of playtime but several starts and at least two play throughs. Its a fun game. Disappointing yes but fun.

The graphics style is really great, the respawning waves of enemies is VERY BAD. Reused environments are bad too. Story isn't great but it's above average.

I looked forward to GC's/Brads opinion and is somewhat gutted. Yes it has flaws, yeah ok I can accept a negative review. But... this feels like a "lets jump the bandwagon". Didn't expect this from GC. Hate to say it but not a great review nor 'loving shared story' about a a decent experience.
Waterloo... Waterloo...

@ Jer Soules

Any 'longtime reader of the site' would know Brad Gallaway doesn't get incendiary for sake of being a firebrand. He doesn't like Dragon Age 2. There's nothing shocking about it.

First Honest Pro Review I've Read

Well done Brad for the excellent, honest review of what is a staggeringly poor game. It's a shame other reviewers don't possess your integrity.

The emperor has no clothes

Well done for saying what should have been said by anyone with journalistic integrity on March 8 - this game is absolutely appaling, not worthy of the Dragon Age name, let alone the BioWare label. Playing this so soon after Origins left me with a feeling of walking through my home town after an air raid. Vaguely familiar but utterly awful in every way. This is a cheapened, dumbed down, shallow, cras, soulless attempt at an RPG. I too slogged through the pointless wave after wave of drop-in trash mobs that spawn in front of your eyes, just for the story. Which is, as you say, two dimensional, in places bizarre and inconsistent, and to add insult to injury ends on a cliffhanger so that BioWare can milk you for more DLC.

You'll get a lot of backlash from the people who have been on a crusade against "those afraid of change", "those who are anti evolution", "PC elitits" and all the other BioWare approved tags. They're easy to spot - angry about any criticism of the game, nothing positive to say about it themselves. One of the biggest RPG disappointments ever. You have been warned :)

Half of me agrees with the review, the other...

To start, I liked this game.
I found the combat enjoyable, the characters -while immediately forgettable- interesting enough at the time and the story of moderate interest.
If it was called Age of Dragons I would have happily given it a 7/10 for what it is. After all, the dungeons are repetitious (as are most FPS' these days), the combat samey (again...fps'?) and it has a number of glitches (as have most games, need I mention Fallout: New Vegas!?).
But as it is Dragon Age 2, the sequel to what was one of the finest new rpgs of our decade it is a sizable disappointment.
But to those who say it is Bioware's fault, I disagree. I suspect EA played a HUUUGE part in dumbing it down and rushing it out.

Finally a fair score

Finally a fair score.

This game is bad ... really really bad.

And if it would not have been developed by a famous developer like Bioware or published by the industry giant EA, but by a no name company, critics would have destroyed it.

Nice to see there are still reviewers rating the actual game and not the hype/developer/publisher.

The rage of Biowarefans on this site will be immense though ....

crappy game

The game has a 78% at Gamerankings, an all time low for Bioware and pretty bad in general.

Theres really no reason left to defend it.

Forgetting that Baldur's Gate 2's city

You're forgetting that BG2's city was actually interesting. Kirkwall is bland, bland, bland, smudge of boring, and some more bland.
I was utterly disappointed about all the "oh my maker the Circle is a prison stuff" never actually leading to seeing the inside of the Circle.

BioWare was lazy and trying to cash in on DA:O's success. Also, I cannot take ANY writer who says that ANYTHING in Twilight is well done seriously.

Harsh, but sadly true.

I was fully prepared to read this review and see it as nothing more than vitriol, but after reading it, I have to concede that everything he says is quite true. I think that, as a game alone, it's not the worst game in the world, but as a game that was hyped as a follow on from one of the most loved WRPGs in recent years? It really is a slap in the face. Dragon Age 2 feels liked a rushed, ham handed cash cow, and as bad as this may sound, maybe they should take a page out of Bethesda's book; slow down and spend the time making flawed gems rather than jumping onto the industry bandwagon of pushing out polished turds for the minimum effort and maximum profit.

Might be worth pointing out...

Baldurs Gate 2 took place in far more than one city...either you didn't play past the first two chapters or you have a terrible memory. Underdark, Asylum, Elven Forest, all of the additional outside areas...

As for Dragon Age 2, I haven't purchased it and I refuse to purchase it. I vote with my wallet and watching the great RPG makers of the past slowly spiral into mediocrity for the sake of "accessibility" it is a massive shame.

With the Mass Effect series now essentially cover-shooters and Bethesda making open world action adventure games I find myself facing the question - who is going to make the next Arcanum or Vampire: Bloodlines?

This review is exactly why

This review is exactly why Brad is literally one of the few reviewers on the entire internet who has my respect. He tells it how it is, and doesn't mask the fact that this game is a complete and utter shambles. BioWare or not, the game is a disgrace, and he tells it how it is.

Nice work as usual sir, and please continue. You're like one of the last beacons of light for us who want real reviews from real critics.

Spot-on review.

I agree with this review entirely. I posted a small comment replying to Brad's first impressions with this game and said that I had played about 10 hours or so. Against my own better judgment, I slogged through the first two acts (of three) because: 1) I just couldn't believe that a game from Bioware wouldn't get better; and 2) I'd heard from others that the game picks up in the second act.

Neither of these is the case. The game is exactly as bad as Brad has stated. None of the events form even a semblance of a cohesive story, none of the characters are especially likeable--or even memorable--and many times I scratched my head at the actions of certain characters, like the Qunari, because they came out of nowhere.

Brad, I know that you panned "Alpha Protocol", but I'd take that game over DA II any day of the week--and twice on Sunday.

Thanks for the honest, insightful review. : )

Has an Editor read this?

This game's not great, but, ignoring the score, this review is among the worst product reviews I've ever read for any product, if not the worst altogether.

The reviewer has misparaphrased Shakespeare, mixed metaphors to no purpose, inexplicably identified the existence of a 'Varric's rumors' menu section as a glitch and used the term "Dramatic Weight" to apply to plot ("Dramatic Weight" is something an actor's performance provides, not something a plot has or doesn't have), then dares to critique someone else's writing? Glass houses, sir.

If any publication wishes give a particular product an eye-poppingly bad review, that's its perogative, but the review, itself, cannot be even worse in the context of its own medium (than the product in question) without making the publication look a bit Mickey Mouse.

Or, as "Brad Gallaway" might say: if you're going to go out on a limb and point at specks, you should make sure you have your ducks lined up on the log in your eye, all barking.

In all honesty, I'd pull this review and have someone more qualified rewrite it, giving the same score to avoid charges of being bought.

nice, honest review

I agree w/ most of the review (I do think the 2.5/10 is a bit too harsh). The game really did feel rushed and disappointing, especially when compared to Dragon Age: Origins, which I love and still play).

I did enjoy the game, tho', and am on my second playthrough.
Maybe it's because I'm on the PC (I've seen on at least 2 articles on this site that a major complaint is the button pushing/mashing: I think they messed up by leaving out the auto-attack for the consoles? Because PC has auto-attack), among other things.

Hopefully they'll release the toolset soon, and patch the bugs (heck, maybe they can 'fix' the immersion-breaking re-use of environments...maybe thrown in some stuff to help w/ immersion, too, like a fly-by/over/establishing shot of the city (think intro to TES4:Oblivion) to see it's scale/size and/or transition scenes showing MORE of Kirkwall: it's kinda sad to see so little of a city that your character is supposed to spend years of his/her life in).

normal and true review

Hi Brad
I really agree with your review.
I even pre ordered this game right after they announced it thinking it will be another great RPG as DA:O
but this game is just some rushed hybrid between pc rpgs and consoles action games.

I like action games so I really don't mind if DA 2 is action and not RPG. But I play bioware games mostly for story, character development,really lots of choices and different endings and not for mindless body explosions

but this game is just too shallow, 3 - 4 choices in chat with almost no impact on story. You can talk to characters only few times So they all really feel distant with almost no story at all, and romance in this game is just stupid joke just click 3 times heart icon and you have sex scene..

This game is not rpg not even action because these have all better gameplay.
I'll not comment of any other aspect of this game because you said everything in your review
But I think every aspect of this game is worse than DAO
I can't comment on graphics because my origins is heavy moded.

all game magazines and websites gave this game about 80 to 100% but that just because of EA and bioware name slapped on game
If this game was made by some unknown or new developer all ratings will be about 50% or less

This is not hate post just truth :(

oh and sorry for my English It's my 4th language ^^

I LOVE this review, it is

I LOVE this review, it is just perfect! You've said everything i'd say, and more. You even gave the same score i'd give this game. I feel like this is the only review not bought by Bioware!


"Brad, how dare you give my game that I like a score that's out of line with the Metacritic average!"--random fan boy

Joking aside, I'm just going echo what a lot of other people are saying. I'm relieved that at least one game review site is willing to give a subpar game the honest review it deserves.

I believe DA2 was a terrible move by EA/BioWare. Rushing it out may have made them some extra money in the short run but what about the long run? I for one will never pre-order an EA game again. And I can't imagine people buying a ton of DLC for DA2. EA has done what some thought almost impossible by tarnishing the BioWare brand while at least temporarily derailing what was once a promising franchise.

And what in the hell is wrong with all those other game reviewers? A Metacritic 79/100 for DA2? Really? And an 80/100 for Fable 3 and not *one* negative review for that game? Seriously?

Something definitely is rotten in the State of Denmark. It's gotten so bad that it's clearly no longer a good idea to pre-order anything or even wait for reviews from the conventional game journalists. One has to wait longer for sites like this one to review the game or check out game review blog sites that aren't afraid to tell the truth.

- Chris

Agreed with alot of the

Agreed with alot of the criticisms, yet i was able to enjoy the game anyway. inexplicable. not sure it deserved a 2.5, but whatever, scores are meaningless anyway.

Great review!! I sadly have

Great review!!

I sadly have to agree with everything you said. Hence I can even add more terrible things about this (terrible UI, what's with the sci-fi slick look, it's a medieval/fantasy setting >.

I would disagree about the

I would disagree about the basic premise of the story not being as good as any epic tale, there's a lot of potential to be had in a game about clawing your way from nothingness to glory.

Sadly DA2 utterly fails at capitalizing on it. Instead of all the complexities and intrigue that should accompany such a story you have gofer quests galore. The quest formula is basically identical to any other mediocre RPG with any other story: play gofer, earn money, buy better equipment, repeat until boss battle. Even if there was a world-threatening giant demon at the end of the game DA2 would have been every bit as repetitive and boring as it is now.

I would give it 4 out of 10, if only because 2.5 out of ten would be disc-snappingly bad and my disc isn't snapped - just playing coaster.


I guess I must be one horrible gamer. I loved DA2. I mean.. LOVED it. Enjoyed it immensely. I played on PC though. So I didnt have the autoattack issue. Thought the wave-based combat was...genius.. actually. Yea maybe a knock for realism but really kept me on my toes. Kept me watching my mages for unexpected flanks.

I Played on Hard all the way through, never touched the difficulty slider even when I wiped on some fights a half a dozen times. That decision really made the game for me I think I think that really opened the game up and made it fun. Combat was never boring. Had to think about consumables, positioning, equipment, Cross class combos. Just the fact that crowd control was nerfed from DA:O and the addition of the multiple waves per encounter I really....honestly had fun with.

Your point about the combat being more responsive also was a major plus for me that made micromanagement make sense. If a 15foot ogre is telegraphing his charge, you can *gasp* actually move out of the way! In DA:0 regardless if you were visually out of the way you would still get hit if you were the target of that ability. Boss fights were awesome. Much better than anything offered in DA:O I loved how because of the responsive combat, if you lost 2 characters during a fight you could micro your ass off and pull it off. One fight during the end of the game I was left with Bethany and Hawke as the only 2 characters alive for 15 minutes. They survived with a sliver of health and no potions and it was.......A-W-E-S-O-M-E. I jumped out of my chair and squealed. Fitting too given how the story played out up until that point.

I didnt mind the recycled environments. RPGS tend to have the "one thing happens in this location" mentality, then you move on. So several scenes played out in the same cave. Just made the city feel lived in for me.

I also was able to identify with the characters. Call me strange. I actually listened to all of the dialog. I NEVER do that. It normally takes me 15-20 minutes before im starting to skip dialog in other RPGS. Dunno what it was with DA2. Loved Merrill, Loved Bethany. Loved the Arishok. Loved Flemeth. Loved Anders. Loved the ending. Loved how their wardrobe changed based on plot points and not just you giving them the next leather armor +12. Gave emotional weight to certain events. You really only lost 3 slots. I was jaded going into it and it honestly won me over.

The game IS buggy and the DX11 performance is LOL. I did have to tweak settings and drivers for a few hours before the performance was acceptable. It randomly freezes during cutscenes and I did have several crashes.

I rarely finish RPGS, yet enjoy them a ton. This one I read all the negative reviews and even bought into them when I was having technical difficulties. When I realized I paid 60 bucks for it I thought, well... it is what it is, might as well play for a bit... I found myself unexpectedly having a great time. YMMV

Im glad you actually had the

Im glad you actually had the balls to say this, DA2 is just bad, plain and simple. I played the demo and could not believe just how low quality the game was. bad graphics, bad game play, bad dialogue, cardboard characters, it was unfinished and incomplete and to give it anything above a 7.0 is ludicrous.

I wanted to love this game.

I wanted to love this game. I didn't want to believe that it could be like this. I'm as big a Dragon Age fan as you're going to find, but as hard as I might try I can't rationalize everything that's wrong here.

It's clear that the game was rushed out to meet some sort of financial deadline, and damn whether or not it was anywhere close to being done. Frequent crashes, an incredibly dull and uninteresting setting, and ridiculous combat mechanics that render any sort of strategy irrelevant, and that's not all. The story, the most wonderful part of Origins, is replaced by a bland string of unmemorable and only vaguely related encounters in Kirkwall, a most unmemorable place.

I'd love to be the lone voice of optimism and say that there's something here. There isn't. I was even planning on penning a second opinion that pointed out that maybe there was something underneath all the junk, but there's no point-everything I have to say has already been said by Brad an most of the rest of the internet.

Dragon Age II is a scam. Never in a million years did I think I'd feel almost the same way about it as I do Force Unleashed 2, but it's the truth. It's an incomplete, defective product being sold (for now) at full price.

If I'm not making myself perfectly clear, Dragon Age II sucks complete and total ass. Fuck it.

Jason Farrell wrote: The

Jason Farrell wrote:

The whole thing takes place in one city. *Gasp* You mean, like it does in Baldur's Gate 2, one of the most consistently revered CRPGs in history, a game that made Bioware a household name in the first place? Or like The Witcher, one of the most popular modern RPGs?

Those games you are comparing DA2 to are many many years old and detracts from the point. This sort of level design oversight is unacceptable in this day and age if this game is to compete with other modern games. If you want to go down this route of argument, then consider the other games that Bioware released that didn't have recycled areas like KOTOR and Dragon Age: Origins and even Mass Effect. It's clear that Bioware had the resources to make unique levels and had generally kept recycling to a minimum in their past games. Even if they needed to tell the story within Kirkwall, could they have made it where you discover new areas of Kirkwall as you progress through the game?

I know Bioware is under very large pressure by EA to get a game done in record time and it shows. I don't expect them to come up with a fantastic game after 1 year of production time, given the complexity of making the game code, story and lore. What irks me is the blatant denial by the developers and people like you, that this game is amazing and doesn't have glaring flaws that ruins the gameplay. Saying everyone else is jumping into a hate bandwagon is a cheap strawman argument, trying to distract people from seeing the actual points being written. Defending this game will only drop the bar lower for Bioware and they will think it is somehow acceptable to sell us a game like this for $60.

This game was mildly entertaining for me, but as a long time Bioware fan, this is far below the quality that they had been putting out.

Thank You Brad

It's refreshing to see a critic totally speak his mind without fear of publisher repercussions. Brad, you are a hero in giving such a dead on review of this poor excuse of a Bioware game. I'm so glad I was able to make back the money I spent on this boring crap, but I'm happier now to see someone tell it how it really is.

Nfi what game everyone else

Nfi what game everyone else is playing, but I think it's great on the PC. Yes, the environments are repetitive and clearly the art department didn't get to finish their job. But the lore and history are great, the characters are solid, and the combat on the highest difficulty is excellent. It's not a game that should even be released on the consoles, far as I'm concerned.

I also wanted to love this game

I pre-ordered DA2, just as I'd pre-ordered DA:O. I've also purchased DA:A, ME1, and ME2. I *really* hoped that this was going to be great.

Instead, it's not even good. Apparently some people feel that
- people who explode when stabbed with a dagger
- One cave, one beach, one mansion, one dwarven tunnel map for the entire game
- 5 different rings called "ring" and 4 different belts called "belt"
are all improvements from DA:O. They're not, IMHO.

I can live with some of the other choices that were made in development, but those will definitely affect replay. (A voiced protagonist who can only be one race and only sound either male or female is unlikely to make me replay as much as DA:O did.) The problem is that I can't even make myself want to keep playing long enough to finish Act II!

On the BW forums I think I may have found a fix for the targeting problem (short version: Use F1-F4 on PC to select characters in combat, don't right click) that caused me to have to turn the difficulty down from Hard (the equivalent of Normal in DA:O) down to Casual. Even with that fix, though, I'm already tired of re-used environments and assassins that drop from the rooftops and explode when hit.

To give credit, I will definitely say that a combat sequence in DA2 is more "snappy" (things happen more quickly) than a DA:A combat on the same hardware. The problem is that at least in the DA:A combat I actually could target who I wanted and feel as though I was fighting real enemies and not balloons filled with blood.

And don't get me started on the bugs I hope will be fixed before I start playing again, like Merrill having the "I can't believe she's dead" conversation cutscene before that quest arc even starts...

A 2.5 out of 10 is harsh. I agree with the grade, though I think that perhaps some of that grade is because the reviewer was pissed. Since I'm pissed too...yep, that's fair.

Great Review. Harsh Score.

First off, I'd like to give my kudos to Brad & his spot-on review. All of the negative points he mentioned were things I noticed & noted down while I played the game.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the need to use the same maps/areas from a game developer's standpoint but come on... how can several areas (buildings/houses, hideouts, sewers, and caves for that matter) share the exact same layout?!? Felt like they didn't have enough money to hire an extra level designer. Ridiculous.

Unlike DAO, the story was all over the place and characters like Anders whose quips I enjoyed in Awakenings felt 'Tranquiled'. Granted, it may be Justice's influence... still, it left much to be desired.

Don't get me started about how the NPCs seemingly go off their meds for no rhyme or reason. Destroying the Chantry to spark chaos? Very uncharacteristic for someone fighting to free mages rather than give Templars a reason to crack down.

Oh, did I mention that something's wrong with the AI? HOLD position is not a suggestion. I wanted my backup to stay near the entrance while I scouted around stealthed but it seemed that some programming genius decided that "HOLD" means "stay back, but always within earshot".

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'd like to point out a few things where the game engine was improved (though some may say it's "dumbed down"):

  1. Inventory System: since you can't change your companions' armor, it frees up a lot of space (immediately sell armor for the other two classes); putting all unusable items in the "junk" tab makes selling stuff easy as well;
  2. Crafting System/Resources: although I hate the fact that I can't craft things on the go (or the fact that I have to pay for 'crafting services'), it's great that I don't have to lug around every single crafting material freeing up inventory space; No more hoarding everything you pick up in case you can use it later.
  3. Better Combat Effectiveness: played as a Rogue and it felt like I had more skills that allow me to contribute more to the battle; the tag-team with my two mages & warrior took down the hordes that pop out from nowhere with little difficulty.
  4. Seeing Old Friends: it was great to see a few old friends like Bodhan & Sandal, Alistair, Nathaniel, and Leliana (just to name a few) even though they hardly contributed to the game's story... felt more like an afterthought but still fun to see where they are now. Actually hoped to see Sten though it's a possible DLC where the Qun come to invade (which is odd since there's already a Qunari in Act3 who acts like massacring his stranded peeps is nothing).

Needless to say, the 2.5 score was a bit overly harsh imho (I'd probably put this game somewhere in the 5.0 region). It's still fun to play so I'd put it in a "Rent It" category rather than a "Skip It".

My fingers are crossed for Mass Effect 3. BioWare dudes, get a clue from Blizzard... stick to your guns and release the game when it's actually done!

Until the next review, Brad... keep spreading the truth!

No idea what game everyone

No idea what game everyone is playing, but I think it's great on the PC. Yes, the environments are very recycled, it's very clear the art department didn't get to finish their job. But the lore and history is still there, the characters are solid and enjoyable, and the battle system on nightmare is very strategic and engaging. The backlash over this game is so over the top, fan reaction is getting pretty hilarious. But then again I'm playing on the PC and believe this game shouldn't even be attempted on consoles, far too much of the combat gets lost in translation.

I don't think the game has many shortcomings.

I completely disagree with the Opinion that was posted, because I do not consider this to be a 'Review' by any meaning of the word.

I'm in Act 2 right now.

The graphics in DA2 are fantastic, especially with the Hi-Res PC patch.

The gameplay is different, but I took to it immediately. I also played the Demo so I knew what to expect before I made my purchase. I love the more active feel of the combat!

The story and the characters totally drew me in. I found myself caring about events a lot more, and I felt the stories and character's reactions were more mature and believable.

There are actually deep characters here, and your actions and decisions matter. You need to pick sides...and you get to see the results. It feels as though you can't be everyone's friend and 'win' all the time.

The voice acting! Have I mentioned the voice acting? Merril's voice is great, very quirky accent. But all the voice acting is excellent. I think Bioware has really raised the bar on character development and those aspects of storytelling in an RPG with DA2.

The way enemies 'drop in' I noticed, but didn't have a problem with. I've seen this before with so many other games, I just accept it as a game mechanic and move on. It makes AOE and positioning important...you really need to keep repositioning your team if you micromanage to make sure you don't get swamped. So there's a lot of tactics involved despite what this site's Opinion states. I mean geez...throw an enemy blood-mage or two into a fight and see how long you last if you don't focus fire in-between their immunity casts (while still managing the other mobs around you).

There were apparently some launch day bugs, which many other games have had. They don't get 2.5 ratings because of them.

I think people really wanted an Expansion pack to DA:O or DA:A and would have been happy with that.

DA2 is different. It's new, it's fresh..and I'm happy that Bioware decided to go this route. At this point in Act 2, I would give DA2 a 4.5 / 5

DA2 is average at best ...

Whenever someone trashed DA2 for it's obvious shortcomings, you're either confronted with Bioware-Fanboys or semi-agreeable disappointed players. The general consensus is that DA2 is worse than DA:O, but it's kinda ok.

Well, I understand their reasoning. But I doubt I would have played DA2 if I hadn't played DA:O ... DA2 is simply unattractive ... and with over-the-top stupid combat animations. It's like they tried to become more God-of-War(-ish) rather than build on the strengths of their first attempt.

Nah, DA2 is a bad game, but it masks it well with the fame of DA:O.

Great review. Have to admit

Great review. Have to admit I haven't finished DA2 and I don't think I will. Origins was a fantastic game but DA2 just hasn't gripped me the same and it's because of all the reasons you gave.

Review of perfection

Brad, I must say it is so refreshing to see a reviewer be completely honest.

I was going to add more that you and others missed but will refrain. Just want to say thank you for your spot-on review. And I do agree with your 2.5 And as others have said, if you look at the game and not who made it your score is valid.

Looking forward to finding more of your reviews for other games.


And this is why I find all

And this is why I find all of the 8/9 reviews so worrisome. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine asking myself, "Is it possible that all of these mainstream game sites were 'persuaded' to write positive reviews?" Admittedly, I've only played the demo, but now I don't know what to think of this whole situation. It's bad for gamers, and it's bad for the industry. I think it's finally time to purchase a Gamefly account. No more full price purchases for me, even for sequels to games I love.

Re Baldurs Gate 2

While Dragon Age II has more redeeming qualities than a 2.5 represents, I do agree that the main venue - Krikwall - is not one tenth as interesting as Baldurs Gate. BG was colorful, had character, and evoked a feeling of being in a certain world and place that grew organically. Kirkwall looks like it was bulit overnight as a movie set by the same contractor to the same specs - on a very constrained budget. It has no character, no life. It's a very dull background for the story and adventure. Kirkwall is very disappointing given you spend the majority of your time here. It's made up of about a half dozen locations and really they pretty much look the same.

Sure it has it's fair share of flaws? But 2.5/10? No.


Let me start by saying despite the obvious flaws this game has I still did a completionist playthrough racking up a total playtime of just over 54:06. You may ask why I am mentioning this? The point I am making is that you actually played less than half the game.

Rushed? Obviously. I am sure EA (cunning disguised as BioWare) wanted their hands in the cookie jar ASAP and was not up for delaying the game for 6 months (like Origins) - reused locations (Caves, Mansion, etc.) make this extremely obvious.

As for the Characters, you may not have liked whoever you used in your party, personally I thought they were extremely well written. Not enough interaction outside of plots, sure - but poorly written? I disagree.

Combat I thought worked well, having said that I played on the PC (for the vastly superior DX11 graphics/high-res textures). On the 360 with the "missing" auto-attack I can fully understand why you got frustrated with it. Reinforcements dropping out of the sky? Yes, that could have been done a lot better.

As for the story, it was always obvious before the game was anywhere near release that this was not going to be Dragon Age: Origins 2 but rather a completely different game.

Anyway, what I am saying is actually, it's still a reasonable game, despite its flaws - and if you hadn't been expecting a Dragon Age: Origins 2 you might have had rather a different reaction.

The first Dragon Age II

The first Dragon Age II review to give it the bashing it truly deserves. By Bioware standards, this game is an abomination, and you had it right when you called the level of quality insulting. You just earned yourself a place on my bookmark list.

Great review

Really great review. I think most of the reviewers who didnt like this game dont dare to give bad enough score becouse its bioware game. Its great that you are being honest and i really agree on every aspect. Ive enjoyed all other bioware rpg:s and was really looking forward to this, i really wanted to like this but i noticed after few hours that almost everything in this game was unappealing and uninteresting, i dont even remember last time when i got so bored and sick to a game so i had to just quit and delete it but it happened with this piece of garbage. I just hope that bioware will listen to all the complaints and start making great games again..

Couldn't agree more -

Couldn't agree more - overhyped game - a true waste of time and money

DA2 has some of the most

DA2 has some of the most unexpectedly awesome characters in quite some time. Aveline and Varric, in particular, are absolutely wonderful. I went into the game believing I was going to hate Aveline. However, by the end of it, she was my favorite.

Brad, I salute you sir for

Brad, I salute you sir for the most honest and true review of the game. Never has a game incited so much anger from me like Dragon Age 2. "I forced myself to play the game to completion despite wanting to quit out of disgust and boredom at least a dozen times before credits rolled, but I shouldn't have bothered. The insulting level of quality in Dragon Age II is perfectly clear to see from the first hour or two, and everything that comes after is just more salt in the wound." No reviewer summarized exactly what I thought like you did. Much respect!

DA@ Reality Fail

Anonymous wrote:

...I was utterly disappointed about all the "oh my maker the Circle is a prison stuff" never actually leading to seeing the inside of the Circle.

One of Da2's biggest reality fails was this: Kirkwall, City of Mage doom, where apostates are killed or made tranquil, and even those mages under their watch must fear for their lives...NOT.

NPC Blood Mages and Apostates infest Kirkwall's poorer areas by the hundreds and as an apostate Hawke I ran around casting magic in the streets, even in front of Templars with NO reaction whatsoever.

If you're going to have a world with this whole Chantry watching over the Circle history, then at least have something in the game that backs this up.

Primary purpose of review fulfilled

mrklarryd wrote:

This game's not great, but, ignoring the score, this review is among the worst product reviews I've ever read for any product, if not the worst altogether.

The reviewer has misparaphrased Shakespeare...etc

Nitpicks aside, at least it was still an honest, critical and entertaining read, fulfilling this sort of article's primary objectives.

Now DA2 on the other hand...full of errors, large and small, but most importantly, neither immersive as a RPG nor enjoyable.

FINALLY a review that really

FINALLY a review that really get what i feel about this game! It also reflects the community who is so so so dissapointed by this game. Bravo! Clap clap!

Anonymous wrote: mrklarryd

Anonymous wrote:
mrklarryd wrote:

This game's not great, but, ignoring the score, this review is among the worst product reviews I've ever read for any product, if not the worst altogether.

The reviewer has misparaphrased Shakespeare...etc

Nitpicks aside, at least it was still an honest, critical and entertaining read, fulfilling this sort of article's primary objectives.

Now DA2 on the other hand...full of errors, large and small, but most importantly, neither immersive as a RPG nor enjoyable.

I disagree. I thought it was immersive and very enjoyable, and I loved Origins as well. It was different and it had some design problems, but it never took me away from mine (or my wife's) enjoyment.

I dont see how comparing

I dont see how comparing anything to the Witcher is insulting. Apart from the low production values in places the Witcher was an utter delight to play.

The difference comes in that The Witcher's city was interesting and had a great deal of charm, DA2 is a graveyard, and am I the only one who's tired of Bioware's (bad, good, dickhead) dialogue choices.


I'm glad someone finally said it and said it well. you pretty much nailed most of the main points I have been frustrated about. I've tried a few times now to get into this game and boredom and shallowness of this "sequel" have overwhlemed me each time.

You did however fail to mention the party mechanics (i.e. inventory, level system) that have also sapped away from the immersion we felt playing the original.

How sad EA and Bioware have tarnished this game so badly that I would have reservations continuing to play a third installment.

I love this review, even

I love this review, even though I disagree with it in general. I liked the game quite a bit, though I'm not sure whether I liked it more or less than Origins, or just a bit.

I found the characters more engaging than in Origins, and I felt that their development was actually believable. These characters changed in small ways over the ten years, and the companion quests were well-written and very well-executed.

The flaws of boring level design don't bother me, honestly. I'm more in it for the story and the characters, and I'm a big fan of Dynasty Warriors, so I'm quite used to repeated level design. The characters and the story engaged me, and I actually was quite invested in Hawke's rise to power.

In saying that, I totally see where Brad is coming from and I kind of love this review. Even though I disagree with it.

How can you even compare

How can you even compare this turkey with BG2? It`s completely linear for a while, then full of meaningless "quests", you can easily rush through without reading any of the tedious, pompous and uninteresting dialogue, just by running after the quest markers.
There is 0 exploration; in my mind one of the main ingredients of a good RPG, has dull, stereotyped characters who all sound as if they have just come out of their Bible-study/Ritalin OD group. None of them managed to say anything interesting by the time I abandoned the game as a hopeless cause, shortly after entering the Underdark.

In contrast, BG1 and 2 had tons of exploration, especially the first one, interesting characters who performed interactions that felt meaningful and which were sometimes even funny. The plot was wonderful, so you constantly felt compelled to pursue something in order to advance it, the scenery was great and so were the sounds and tactics.

All of this has now been abandoned by Bioware and there`s no reason to support these sellouts anymore. ME and DAO were good, but ME2 and DA2 are shit, pure and simple.

Accurate review

Finally someone with the free from the forces of EA and Bioware (Metacritic magazine scores) able to give an honest and deep review of the trash that is DA2.

They took away racial choices
They took away many spell trees
They made weapons restricted to classes
They repeat the same enemies over and over
They repeat the same environments over and over
They have only a few achievements compared to DO:A
They have only 2 endings
They took away Dual Wield warriors, Champions, Archer Warriors and Strength rogues. You get only one healer.

Bottom line I beat this game in 20 hours at level 20 in the end having done nearly everything with all but a couple achievements.

2.5/10 is generous

I've sworn off pre ordering anything out of Bioware thanks to their lack of DLCs for DAO which they promised, and this game is a bigger let down than Fable.

I have played the game and

I have played the game and guess what? The review pretty much sums up my feelings. I too forced myself to complete it, and by the end of the game I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a sick feeling in my stomach.

Emotions run too high?

seems your emotions were strung a bit too high. 2.5's belong to Technically broken games that are not playable, even the mostly broken and awhile FF14 had 35% and 4/10's.... I am a huge DAO and DA2 fan, but just generally speaking a 2.5 does not beling in the category and league of this game production values alone. Aside from what I find to be an excellent story, characters, combat, etc but thats just me.

A 6/10 or a 7/10 would be more reflective on how reviews rate a game as a "non purchase due to X reason" as stated above 2.5 basically means the game is unplayable and an ugly turd to look at.

Thank you for your honest

Thank you for your honest review of Dragon Age II. It's good to see someone let people know for what the game really is unlike those other publications, like the exclusive reviews that came days before the game's release. Ignore the haters bashing your review, Brad. It's been known that some Bioware employees have been reviewing their own games under alias name in attempt to increase the average score for DAII. So I wouldn't be surprise if some of them go to this site hating your review.

He may have lost you, but he

He may have lost you, but he gained my respect.

OMG an honest review!!!

Just to correct some folks here, I do indeed know what I played and you Brad, played the same terrible game.

Thank you for joining Adam Sessler into the land of honest reviews. A shame Adam was afraid to explain why he gave it a 3/5 on Gtv but you were obviously not afraid to make up for that Brad. Good on you. Although if it were coming from any other Developer I wouldn't give the game a 2.5 out of 10. Any other developer would get a 5 for a mediocre product. Coming from Bioware we all know they can and should do better.

Then again: EA Games: It's in the toilet!

Some "PC Elitist" (like supposedly myself) may say that this was meant for the console players...it was...and it's as big as an insult to them as it is to us. Younger or less experienced gamers may not know what Bioware is capable of.

Instead of bringing everyone up a level of depth they phoned it in and brought us all into stupidland.

Bioware is an A+ student and they turned in a C paper.

If mediocre and forgettable in a sea of mediocrity and forgetability is what some people want then this is the game for them.

A pity thinking of all that it could be.

Great Review for a Lackluster Game

It is so refreshing to see a game reviewer "tell it like it is"... thank you very much for your honesty. My biggest issue was the design (or lack thereof) for the city of Kirkwall itself - epic? immersive? a living city? What a joke! Kirkwall is Orzammar without the ceiling... and even less "awesome" stuff to do/explore.

Again, thank you for a giving the community a REAL review. Hopefully the folks at Bioware will read this and take it to heart.


Somewhere in Bioware....

Troubled Bioware Designer

Yet here's a spot.


Hark! he speaks. I will set down what comes
from him, to satisfy my remembrance the more

Troubled Bioware Designer

Out,damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my
lord, fie! a lead designer, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power
to account?—Yet who would have thought Dragons Age Origins had so much blood in

And Inon Zur's music; where is it now?—
What, will these hands ne'er be clean?—No more o'
that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with
this starting.

Here's the smell of the blood still. All the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this
little hand. O, O, O!


What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely

Troubled BiowareDesigner

Wash your hands, put on your DA2 hoody;
look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Brent Knowles is
buried; he cannot come out his grave.

To copy and paste, to copy and paste! There's fresh reviewers at the gate:
come, come, come, Gaider, give me your hand. What's
done cannot be undone.—to DA3, to DA3, to DA3!

Wind wrote:seems your

Wind wrote:

seems your emotions were strung a bit too high. 2.5's belong to Technically broken games that are not playable, even the mostly broken and awhile FF14 had 35% and 4/10's.... I am a huge DAO and DA2 fan, but just generally speaking a 2.5 does not beling in the category and league of this game production values alone. Aside from what I find to be an excellent story, characters, combat, etc but thats just me.

A 6/10 or a 7/10 would be more reflective on how reviews rate a game as a "non purchase due to X reason" as stated above 2.5 basically means the game is unplayable and an ugly turd to look at.

I hate to be part of the "whine about the score" crowd, but after reading the review, I tend to agree with this. Keeping in mind I've yet to play more than a couple hours of DA2, a 2.5, to me, suggests a game that is not merely bad but broken to the point of being embarrassingly unplayable. While a lackluster plot and aimless quests are sufficient to make a pretty disappointing game, even the little I've played shows the game has retained and refined many of the successful elements of the first game. This seems like lowballing for its own sake. IMO, just another reason why scores are dumb, because it's a really well-articulated critique (despite being hyperbolic at times) and chances are most of the discussion will be about the score.

Edge published a review with many of the same critiques, but graciously acknowledged some of the improvements to the game. They gave it a 6/10, which to me seems more representative of a game whose greatest fault is not a fundamental flaw in the design, but missed potential in the execution.

I agree with about 90% of

I agree with about 90% of criticism
Just finished the game yesterday and im still shocked that Bioware could make such epic fail in department which is their strongest asset,or to say WAS-storytelling.
All the sidequests have notihing to do with you becoming a "champion"...you do that by kiling Arishokc and that's it.
At least that's some kind of explanation for 1 question but until the very end there is NOTHING about WHY are you so important worlwide in the chain of events and WHY are you sought-after by the chantry.
The game begins with the mystery question why is all happening,WHAT is happening,why champion was "at the heart of it when it all begun",why is Varic telling seeker the story of champion and until the end NOTHING of it is answered...we dont konw why is our charecter so important or wanted and all that happens in gameplay is completely pointless in that department.
I could put aside all the other game flaws if there was not good,not eveen bad story,but ANY story whatsoever..no matter how good or bad.
But there is nothing...this game is an embarrassment for intelligence and common sense.

Finally, I've found an

Finally, I've found an honest and intelligent reviewer. Thanks Brad.


If anything...

The ridiculously long load times and bug that freezes the game occasionally is INCONCEIVABLE!

Maybe 2.5 is harsh, but it definitely doesn't deserve more than a 7. I'd say around 5 to 6 (of 10) for me. But I can agree with Brad's 2.5 too! >:(

The overall game was sloppy! INCONCEIVABLE!!

Spot on Reveiw

Very well articulated commentary on all this game's significant flaws. You've just earned yourself a new reader.

This is the most disappointing sequel ever, which is as much a commentary on how wonderful DOA was as it is about how awful DAII is.

More than anything, I think this is why there's so much hate out there for this game. It took something that was truly awe inspiring, and turned it into something tedious, at best.

RIP Bioware

Two days ago, I would have

Two days ago, I would have said the 2.5 was too low of a score, I was actually enjoying the game a lot, but that was before my Hawke character started moving in slow motion... slow to the point of making the game unplayable... turns out this is a game breaking bug. So I turn to the Bioware forum and find that Bioware is aware of the bug. Tons of upset people on their forum. They are working on a patch, but they are not really communicating very well as to when the patch might actually be ready, and it looks like it could take a while... Now, I have to stop in the middle of my game and wait for them to do the job they should have done before the game was released, and before I invested so many hours into a broken game.

Yeah, that 2.5 is about right. A broken game deserves no better.

The problem with the single

The problem with the single setting was that it was incredibly ugly. Not ugly as in gritty, but ugly as in "I'm surrounded by a bunch of cardboard boxes apparently and I can't get out."

Realistic? [spoilers] Like the mission where Aveline asks you to clear out bandits so that she can have a romantic walk down a coastline known to be swarming with bandits and rogue Qunari? Or a crazy mage who kidnaps old women for their parts to create a blood magic Frankenstein monster? Or maybe you meant all of those "quests" that consist of finding random crap lying around and giving it to random NPCs that pop into existence solely to collect said crap and then disappear? [/spoilers] They're barely plausible, even in a fantasy setting.

The characters were laughable caricatures. JRPG elf with giant sword. Big-boobed slut with heart of gold. Shy pixie elf girl with dark secret. Stuffy buzzkill. "Developed"? Maybe by a focus group, but not in the game.

Convincing a mindless fanboy is a pretty difficult task, but I don't think that was the reviewer's aim.

Review score is perfectly just

I love the 2.5 score. It makes up for every biased, suspect 10/10 Ive ever read.

I love the "everything else" lowpoint because it makes up for all the "everything in this game is perfection" biased and suspect reviews Ive read.

Brad ultimately is putting forward a voice saying the same thing as me. If not the entire genre as a whole, this very game at least is losing itself.

He sounds like a genuine pissed off RPG gamer reviewing a genuinely awful so called "RPG" that wants action audiences. Id much rather listen to that than the other drones who have been giving this game and others (like ME2) undeserved high scores for being mediocre titles that coddle the game and seek a simple, dumbed down approach why still claiming to be "RPG" enough to satisfy those of us who supported these series intially.

I hate to say it given how much I loved ME1 and enjoyed DAO, but I almost wish I had never played those games, seeing as how in doing so I supported *these* sequels, and how they dump out almost everything I enjoyed about the games.

Thank you.

Playing this game was like a slap in the face to me. I'm so glad to see a professional actually address some of what made it feel that way instead of simply brushing it under the rug. Thank you also for addressing the horrible pacing of plot events, the weak plot, and the shallow characters rather than solely focusing on combat issues. I'm really glad to see so many of my own issues with da2 represented her.

(first time on your site, and will remember it when scoping out future games)

Correct in direction, but not degree

I'll agree that DA2 was a letdown in most, if not all, respects. However, I disagree that it's such a monumental failure that it deserves a 2.5/10 rating. Were I to score it, I'd likely throw a 6.5 its way--it's still a better-than-average game compared to most of what else is out there (at least on the PC), it's just that the disparity between it and its predecessor, as well as everything else produced by Bioware to date, is so great that it magnifies the disappointment.

Hopefully Bioware will learn from this misstep, and will address the VALID (i.e., not mere whining) criticisms of many of its loyal customers and fans without getting caught up in some reactionary campaign of hyper-protectiveness to defend DA2. It's a fun game, but Bioware, you did indeed drop the ball on this one.

Jer Soules wrote: This is

Jer Soules wrote:

This is nothing more than a rant designed to get hits to the website. I've seen it before on Gamecritics, but never to this shocking of a degree.

This "review" is clearly designed to agree with the user reviews on Metacritic which are filled with hundreds of moronic PC gamers who consider streamlining the same as "dumbing down." Bioware neither a.) sold out nor b.) stopped becoming a good developer. I thought game reviewers were supposed to have some degree of journalistic integrity? Clearly Brad Gallaway has none, as this is one of the most poorly executed reviews of a good (not great) game that I have ever seen.

Congratulations on losing a longtime reader to your site. But I'm sure the dozens of hits from Metacritic for the next few weeks will make you all feel like this nonsense is excusable.

While I'll agree that streamlining isn't essentially the same as dumbing down, in this case (compared with the game's predecessor) it really does feel that way. I can't at all fault Bioware for giving this angle a shot to see how it panned out, and while the game is fun, it just leaves something to be desired. Perhaps it would be better for them to, in the future, dedicate series to one type of play vs. the other. That way, fans of either will know ahead of time what they're getting into, and won't feel as if they've somehow been duped or cheated

I respect every comment made

I respect every comment made in your assessment of the game. However, I must say that this is a rare case where I agree with the flaws that you pointed out, but disagree fully with the conclusions that you came to.

In my eyes, Dragon Age 2 is a smaller scale epic, one that tries to venture away from the Bioware norm in search of something new. Not necessarily fresh, but rather different. What Bioware has done with this game is essentially take an age old formula and reduce it to fit the needs of a development cycle, substituting the usual sprawling landscape they are known for in place of a city with repetitious dungeon and corridor exploring. When you really think about it, this is what they have been doing for a great number of years.

Take this into consideration: have any of you ever played KotOR, one of my favorite games of all time? Well, what did you do in that game? You explore an area, move one to explore another, rinse and repeat, backtrack a couple of times, and then move on to defeat the final boss. That is precisely what DA2 is doing. Each area of the city is more or less borrowing from the planet template first realized in KotOR. You go from A to Z with B-Y in between.

Now what did Dragon Age 1 do? The same thing as KotOR and the same thing as DA2. Sure, DA1 took place in a large countryside, but every area was explored once and then maybe explored again at some time. Some areas were large, some small, much like DA2. While I could not finish the first one to completion (the graphics were horrendous, the emotionless expression were a turn off, and the combat was broken by trying to be real time in a turn based format), I have heard a considerable amount about the mechanics, which is why I speak about how it works (and I did play roughly half of it before promptly selling it on amazon). In short, I am trying to say that DA2's biggest knock on the city scape seems to be unfounded, seeing as how it has been done in the past on a larger scale.

Gamers like the illusion of freedom in an "open" environment, something usually born of there being a large map (hell, DA1 even came with a nifty map to drive home the idea of exploring a large country). But really, DA1 was no "open" world game. You had a large country to explore, but could only teleport to select cities, with the occasional annoying bandit group trying to kill you. How is this not repetitive as well? Sure, the corridors and dungeons were all half-assed in DA2, but the first one did the exact same thing in a larger setting. It's like Bioware is saying to gamers: "Hey, this is how most of our games are structured anyway. We have always given you a relatively small area to work with, and we are going to prove it to you in this game." I like the blatant honesty.

Ok, enough rambling about the small scale nature. Other things of note that make the game a much more superior version to me include the much improved combat (I know you know this as well, so nothing more to say here), the better graphics, facial animations that are actually a tad more sophisticated, and a good menu system for such a loot based RPG.

Oh trust me, I know the game has it's flaws, and I could go on for a while talking about them. You have done this for me though, so I do not feel that I have to. All the flaws, however, did not kill the game for me as it did for you. Sure, it was repetitive, but so is every other game I have ever played. Ever. Halo. Mass Effect. Mario. Call of Duty. Limbo. Super Meat Boy. Braid. Dead Space 2. Forza MotorSport. Mortal Kombat. FALLOUT 3. Just to name a few. But it is through repetition that gaming is even in existence. We love doing things we like over and over again, which is why we keep coming back for more. Granted, the repetition has to at least have a new face both in the game and successive installments of the respective franchise, but DA2 did not ignore this aspect. It had a story with many optional side quests, all of which were done relatively well. Aside form the overused settings, there was really nothing wrong with the structure of the mission system nor the mission themselves. They might have been haphazardly thrown together, but they were far from detrimental to the game overall. Plus, I needed a distraction from the at times boorish characters of the main story. It always seems the side quests offer much more intriguing persons to interact with.

Unlike you, I had a connection with the companion characters. I was pissed when _______ left me during the second act for you-know-what. I felt bad for Merrill because of her basically exiled status. Varric is one of the best characters ever in a game to me. Fenris is typical, but then again, so was Morrigan (or Morgan, whatever her name was) from the last game. All she was was a brooding chick, nothing more. The other characters were less memorable, but I don't think they weren't fleshed out. I think they seemed that way simply due to the nature of the game, how the missions come out of nowhere for no rhyme or reason. To me, they were perfectly flawed and fine at the same time.

This game is far from one of my favorites. Hell, not even close to top twenty. However, this does not take away from it's superiority over the original, in my opinion. It does indeed boast acceptable writing, albeit sometimes incoherent. The mechanics behind the combat have been improved as well as leveling up. The sound quality is amazing, and it overall gave me a reason to go back and explore. Yes, the load times were unbearable, but I'm not an action junkie when it comes to RPGs. I can take a breather every now and then. And by this point in my gaming life, I am very used to loading screens. They're inevitable, so why complain?

I gave the game a solid 8.5. It is a more honest RPG, and pulls no punched. It is an experience that knows exactly what it is and pulls it off despite the development cycle being roughly a year and a half.

Good review though. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Great Review

Great Review, and also a lot of good follow up content. I've totally enjoyed hating this game, and then coming around to appreciate it despite its flaws. In my final analysis its pretty good (6-8) and its biggest sin is the way it railroads the player into zero freedom of choice (aka role playing.) DA2 passifies the 'player' into a kind of audience who can watch (but not change)a script. This is the dreaded 'Mass Effect' path. Where you can appreciate amazing races, gear and scenery, but you never aproach the illusion hat you can have or play any of it. You are just a token afterthought, the fool who buys the ticket to the movie, and gets to click the mouse a few million times as you find out what happens in the end. What happens has already been written and not by us. This kind of game is not really a RPG at all. Its inter-active shapkespeare. If you can accept your exclusion from the game and are happy to go along for the ride its a fun way to spend a week or so. If you want more illusion of more control, I guess you gotta go play Rift or something else, or DA Origins one more time, or re-install Baldur's Gate.

Thank you for telling it like it is!

Thank you so much for bringing to the forefront the multitude of flaws that every player has been experiencing but that no professional critic has really put into honest relief. I was wondering if I was going insane, reading all the positive critic reviews that metacritic has been displaying.
So, again, thank you for being honest. I hope Bioware reads this review and takes it to heart. I'll be coming back to this site regularly now.

awesome review

While I disagree with your review personally, I fully respect the fact that there is a website on the internet somewhere that is willing to thrash a major game release. I noticed with a lot of the bigger websites, reviews of AAA games rarely go below 7/10 or the equivalent no matter how much they suck. It's nice to come across a site that is willing to criticize games, instead of using reviews to simply run down the games features, throw in one or two half-hearted dislikes and likes and call it a day. One of the things that is really hurting the video game industry is a lack of legitimate critique. I'm glad to see it here, my deepest respect to you sir.

Thank you so much! I'm

Thank you so much! I'm ashamed that I bought this game at retail price, it nowhere near met my expectations.
As others have said, this game isn't a 2.5, but I think everyone is very pissed that popular game reviewers wont touch such a popular title. (Hence the backlash from users on metacritic who have given the game less than 5 on average.)
I wish I could get twice my money back for being so utterly insulted by this trash of a game.
On another note, I wish you would've touched on the lack of choices in the game. The great thing about DA:O is that your choices often had a DRAMATIC effect on side-quests, that eventually had a somewhat trivial effect on the end-game.
Example: Going in the dream realm and choosing to deal with the demon or not, thereby leaving the demon in the boys head or freeing him. In that same quest, you could get help from the Circle if you had already completed the quest, or used your own powers as a mage to enter the dream realm. (You could also have the prisoner in the basement use blood-magic or not -if you killed him not- ((who is also possibly in your origins story)))
This kind of depth and choice was nowhere to be found in Dragonage 2.
Dragonage 2 was a dumbed down regression from its predecessor and it deserves plenty of hate for it. Thank you.

Almost agree

I think that the rating is a bit harsh. The one thing no one seems to mention is that you can only dress yourself in this game, not your party. I thought that was a good thing to leave in. This seems like a very poor attampt by another company at copying DA. The first was epic, loved the characters, loved the way you fought and the story was great. I bought this with high expectations but feel very let down by it. The main character is bland at best and i have taken to just choosing the top option with my good character and the bottom one with my evil character. Why don't they just give you decisions to make and do the good/bad thing in the background. I would rather make my choice based on the conversation not based on wanting to choose good. I've nearly done it and have only spent 15-20 hours playing.
In short this seems like complete rubbish if you compare it against it's predecessor. On it's own it stands up well but it lives in the shadow of a truly great game.


Nice review - and refreshingly honest!

I preordered the signature edition in good faith. Biowares history of games is nothing short of impressive but DA2 is a totally different story.

I agree with every point of the review but i have to add another thing. The game feels like an insult actually. Everything, that requires thinking was removed. Instead i get exaggerated combat scenes with almost silly splatter scenes and a "3 choices" conversation system.

Why this game received so many good reviews from big sites is a mystery. Reading the gamer reviews here, on AMAZON or even on the BIOWARE forum tells a totally different story however. I am missing somehow a statement from Bioware on this matter - also something that irritates me and leaves a "you paid, what do i care" feeling as a costumer.

These many bad reviews are actually a nice thing for Bioware and actually shows appreciation for what Bioware actually stands for. Any other game put on the marked like this, nobody would talk about that...

Bioware had to see this coming.. considering their reputation and after DAO people did not expect that and are even more agitated or feel somewhat "betrayed", which is strange since (as i understand) even after years of development of DAO it was a tremendous economical success. . Publishing DA2 under a different name and denying any connection to DAO could have made a difference - however they have to live with the consequences now. I will not preorder again and will watch future review closely before deciding. That will be valid for Mass Effect 3 also. As simple as that.

that's harsh

While I can agree that the combat is tedious and that there should have been more dialogue with your friends the comparison to DA:O seems a bit ... ridiculous. First off, wether you like the story or not is entirely based on taste. Personally, I thought that the worn old epic cliché of the old game was the boring part. There's no tension in a game where you know the outcome before you've even put in the disc. With this game, the ending surprised me and the bigger conflicts surprised me. It was never black and white and you definatly felt like you were part of something bigger here.

More importantly, laundry list? That was possibly the worst thing in the entire game while I was playing DA:O, because that was all that the game was. The overarching motive was literally to check of a list of allies after having run errands for them. You did that for 30 flipping hours and then the game was over! How segmenting the game into part goals and actually showing the fruits of your labor before the game is over can be a bad thing at this point is beyond my understanding!

Finally, an honest Dragon Age II review

I really don't see how any serious gamer can defend Dragon Age II. It is one of the biggest disappointments in gaming history, and the fact that most magazine and website reviews are sucking up to it, giving it great scores, just confirms what we have always known about the reliability of these reviewers. It also adds insult to injury.

I couldn't have said it better than Brad. I finished this game last weekend (took a while because I just couldn't bring myself to play it all the time). I am so glad i didn't pre-order this. What an awful game. I don't think I'll be buying mass effect 3. I was so worried when EA acquired Bioware, but I tried to remain hopeful. Sigh. Bioware will be missed.

This is the first time I read a review from gamecritics; but this gives me a very good first impression. Honesty goes a long way. You've gained a reader.

I agree completely with the

I agree completely with the reviewer. I don't understand how this game could have gotten such favorable reviews from other sites.

Looking at the Metacritic scores (for the xbox360) I note that :
The average reviewer rates the game 7.9 (generally favorable)
The average user rates the game 4.5 (generally unfavorable)

Difference between average reviewer and user rating 3.4 wow!

So what is going on here? Have the reviewers been receiving money from EA or are they just scared of damaging their mutually beneficial relationship?

Is this the future of online (video)game reviews? Actively misleading reading in this way should be criminal, put the dishonest reviewers behind bars!

Well Spoken

While I wouldn't drop down to a 2.5 personally, perhaps a 5.0/5.5, I feel that's more a difference of opinion in review criteria. Arcania: Gothic 4 was a 2.5 to me, and while Dragon Age 2 is a superior game, it's hardly a good game by any stretch.

Everything you mentioned is spot-on. The lack of pacing, lack of build-up to "Important" events; these were things that I couldn't have pointed out so clearly myself, but absolutely felt. DA2 feels as if the bare-bones a good story were slapped together by a competent writer in a very brief time allotted to him or her, and then never fleshed out or properly paced/developed before being sent to press.

A terrible dissapointment, but an excellent, brutally honest review. Thank you!


DA2 is an example of what Electronic Arts does to companies.
They have done it before and they doing it again.

The drop in quality of DA2, the crapiness of the combat system, the lack of detail in everything, the typical kids console bash and samsh them all kind of gaming, made DA2 one of the worst tittles launched in the RPG market.. and pretty much destroyed the franchise.

Whos fault? Dont know.. but i sincerely doubt the crew that made DA2 was the same who made DA.

EA -> less cash -> less talent = crappy product.. its an old recipe.

They scrwed ME2 aswel so.. here they went just a lil further on the destruction process.


I agree with you completely. While some of these negative claims are valid (especially all the long loading screens), it really didn't affect my utter enjoyment of the game.

To start, I thought the first Dragon Age was, quite honestly, pretty damn sucky. The graphics were atrocious, my character seemed lifeless and drab, the story seemed unoriginal (to clarify, I thought that the lore was fantastic; love the Fade and the Circle and such), and the combat was just plain bad and boring. I felt no personal connection to the characters and found myself quitting from the game after about twenty hours of play or so.

That said, Dragon Age II fixed all these problems for me and took a much more Bioware-like approach. My character had a voice, the characters were well-developed and interesting, the music was fitting and pleasant, and while the story was still a bit generic, I still felt like I was actively involved and thoroughly enjoyed playing it. You guys are whining about the combat? It was vastly improved from DA:O's. I couldn't play anything but a Mage in Origins because it was the only interesting class! In DA2 I was able to play all three classes and really enjoyed each of them.

I can agree with some of the mentioned problems; the loading screens were frequent and took far too long (I have it for 360, by the way), the city wasn't big enough, and the environments were a little repetitive. But overall, it didn't detract enough from the gameplay for me to consider this a bad game. In fact, I would probably rate the game a 7.5 or an 8. A 2.5? Come on, guys. Are you kidding?


A concise and brilliantly honest review, Brad. Unlike many of those slavish game reviewers out there!

You've won a new reader :)

A honest and totally accurate review

... and for that I, as a player and consumer, am grateful.

Dragon Age 2 is essentially crap, and an insult to intelligent and informed gamers; the otherwise inexplicable high score reviews it received from certain "mainstream" big name gaming sites stands out as a good example of what we can, from this point on, expect from an industry which is now almost completely corrupted by the corporations which invaded and now control it, including their associates in the media who write their sponsored reviews for them.

The gamer who expects genuine gaming quality will have, from this point on, to look for small and independent games from independent developers with lower production values and/or lower profile companies - not the big developers ruled by corporate sharks.

The gamer who expects serious, unbiased information about any game will have, from this point on, to read it in smaller and/or independent gaming sites, or from individual reviewers - not the big sites ruled by the same corporate sharks.

I appreciate the review. I

I appreciate the review. I did buy the game and played.. most of the way (I think) through it. The game really did feel bland. I didn't like the new combat system when I first bought the demo but in remembering how much I liked the first game I bought it. I tried my best to like it, I really did. It's just not very good. I don't think I'd give it a 2.5/10 maybe 4.5/10 or something. There is something there.. it's just kind of bland and not all that much fun. And yes, I agree I hated the new 40 enemies coming at you at the same time battle system. It was so annoying.

Dumbed Down Age 2

I absolutely agree with this review. I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins, bought Awakening, ALL of DLCs, two of the books (which were slightly worse), but I hate DA2. It is just bad.

It's so bad I couldn't bring myself to finish it. The story feels not compelling, the abilities feel useless (all my mage spells do a bit of damage and throw people around and that's it). Fights are ridiculous - enemies appear from thin air, no tactics, nothing. It is more mindless than Japanese RPGs, which at least have a lot of tactics and planning. This has no tactics, no planning, no gear-up, nothing. You cannot even change armor on party members freely!

If it was a movie, it would be an average movie. For a game, it's terrible, terrible experience, and all reviewers who gave it so high a score discredit themselves.


Slinky_Bass wrote:

One of Da2's biggest reality fails was this: Kirkwall, City of Mage doom, where apostates are killed or made tranquil, and even those mages under their watch must fear for their lives...NOT.

NPC Blood Mages and Apostates infest Kirkwall's poorer areas by the hundreds and as an apostate Hawke I ran around casting magic in the streets, even in front of Templars with NO reaction whatsoever.

If you're going to have a world with this whole Chantry watching over the Circle history, then at least have something in the game that backs this up.

I'm beginning to think that the Circle of Mages is exaggerating the atrocities of the Templars. After playing both DA:O and DA2, and seeing the unaccountability of evil mages and/or apostate mages... I'm thinking the Templars aren't really bad guys after all.

That being said... Bioware's games are all the same anyways, wasn't really surprised to see DA:2 fail so badly. Well, A little surprised seeing as DA:O was decent enough in my book.

The one honest reviewer.

The one honest reviewer. Thank you for having the guts to say the truth.In retrospect we now know that the team had 1.5 years to develop the game because *someone* wanted to capitalize on the success of DA:O. They wanted a much broader audience which is why they decided to focus on the console and dumb down the experience.

There just isn't anything redeeming about this steaming pile of poo. The combat was mindbogglingly bad, the story kept changing anytime it got remotely interesting, the graphics are downright embarrassing, the artwork is rebooted for no reason at all, established lore was completely ignored, the characters are forgettable, and the level design was just..wow. This game almost killed the franchises and has succeeded in making me unexcited for DA:3.

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