Sorry to end on a cliffhanger last time, but life can sometimes get in the way of leisure-time blog posting. You know how it goes.
Anyway… Dragon Age II.
So at this point, I'm about fifteen hours or so into the game. I am going to be doing a full review so I won't go into a great amount of detail here, but I will say that if I wasn't going to be submitting a formal review, I would have already quit the game and traded it in for something else. Not even kidding a bit.
In the interest of keeping things brief, here's a quick list of bullet points highlighting the issues I have with it:
- The combat system is still a mess. Removing the lag time before attacks is only a cosmetic difference, and the overall system of pop-in enemies constantly swarming the player is garbage. Requiring the player to spam the attack button while special abilities cool down is both tedious and aggravating.
- The vast majority of quests I've been through have been disposable tasks concerned with fetching something or killing something, and they have very little relevance or significance. The sense of making difficult choices is essentially absent.
- After fifteen hours, there is still no sense of purpose to the game, nor any sense of drama or adventure. There's been precious little conflict, and no overarching motivation to progress what little story there is.
- The characters are poorly-written and not nearly as interesting as they were in Dragon Age: Origins. The pacing for getting to know them is off, and I feel no camaraderie whatsoever for any of them. I don't even feel annoyed by any of them. Basically, they have no impact at all. Even worse, it's hard to predict how they will respond to choices made, at times feeling as though their like or dislike is completely random.
- The paraphrased dialogue choices are sometimes misleading, and there's no feeling of playing the main character when each dialogue choice is accompanied by a symbol specifically explaining what the effect is—i.e., "humor", "aggressive", "Romance" and so on.
- The game spends too much time in the city of Kirkwall, and exterior environments are noticeably repeated, lending the feeling that the development team either did not have the budget or the time to craft unique locations. Furthermore, most locations are glorified hallways with nothing to explore and nothing interesting to be seen.
- The game only lets players manage armor for the main character, far too many pieces are class-specific and unequippable, and the things that can be equipped have very little visual distinction. Party members' appearance cannot be changed at all, with only weapons and accessories able to be modified.
- The game has crashed on me twice so far, requiring a full hardware reset in order to keep playing. Load screens are also long and frequent, and I often feel as though I'm spending more time looking at load screens that I am playing the game. It's impossible to achieve any sense of immersion at all.
There are other things I could bring up, but long story short, it's pretty obvious that development was massively rushed and a lot of shortcuts were taken with Dragon Age II.
Maybe if BioWare and Electronic Arts were more concerned with creating an experience that matched or surpassed the original rather than fast-tracking a sequel and spending all their resources on ridiculous DLC promotions, players might have actually gotten something that would have lived up to the big talk prior to release.
The drop in overall quality is staggering on a cosmic level, and there's no way I'd ever recommend anyone buying this game under any circumstances. For being such prestige players, BioWare and EA should be embarrassed and ashamed for turning out such a boring, tedious, poorly-crafted excuse of a game.