Dragon Age 2 was a rollicking good time. Overall, it was a lot of fun and it ate most of the last couple of weekends, plus when we took Friday off and basically stayed home playing. The main flaw with DA2 is that it was a sequel to DA1, one with a less sweeping story and an intentionally dumbed-down system.
The Good: Combat was a lot of fun. I played a Warrior and enjoyed the crowd control abilities and general feeling of badassery. The main story was edgy and vaguely topical in a fantastic way, think the Battlestar Galactica revival. The companions were fun and the voice acting was good. Giving the hero a voice made him a lot more engaging than the silent version that featured in Dragon Age 2. The graphics were better and I got engaged enough at the story that one particular betrayal actually made me feel angry, even on the way to work the next day, which is pretty unusual.
The Bad: The complexity was turned down, a bit too much. Pausing the fights to issue commands seemed pointless or unecessary. I breezed through almost all fights on normal difficulty, basically just stopping once in a while to hand out potions. This was very much so unlike the first one, which could be tough and required your whole brain. Also, just weird random stuff – I couldn’t give my warrior a bow to shoot when things were far away and I decided to not play a rogue upon realizing I couldn’t use full-sized weapons, which were my weapons of choice in the last game. I would have expected more options – having less was disappointing.
The ugly: Reused maps got a bit annoying. The new ‘wander to different locations and see if a companion feels like talking to you’ mechanic was a lot more complicated than the old camp mechanic. Plus they seem to have minimized the amount of dialogue – unlike the old days of hearing hours of exposition from companions things were pretty sparse, only a few questions with no chance to ask again. The romance options were a lot more limited, the old triangles and squares you could make in DA1 were much harder to pull off now, though the new Rival mechanic was a nice bit of variety that made interactions seem more organic.
Also the game tended to freak our the XBOX after a while – my character’s arm shrivelling up or things losing their texture became common. Reboots tended to fix the bugs, except for a couple of quests that stayed broken, but it was still weird / irritating.