Friday, April 15

Rant

Dragon Age II

This is the review I posted at Gamespot, with some italics added.

We all knew that Dragon Age II wasn't going to be a direct sequel to Dragon Age: Origins.  Since, depending on your choices in the first game, your main character might well have ended up dead at the end, that would have been tricky.  But that doesn't mean we can't compare the second game to the first - it's called Dragon Age II after all.  And when we do, it comes up short in almost every way.

Other reviewers have covered some of the glaring flaws, such as the mindless reuse of assets and the way the plot has you on rails from beginning to end, so I won't go into those.

The combat in the first game was somewhat stodgy but certainly allowed you to plan out your tactical assault.  Dragon Age II on the other hand has your characters leaping about like crack-addled squirrel monkeys with ADHD.  The combat is as easy as it is mindless, but most of all it betrays the same laziness and incompetence of the designers that shows up all through the game. 

The original game had such a fetish for surprise attacks that the true surprise ended up being not having your face ripped off the moment you opened a door, but Dragon Age II lacks any factor of surprise at all.  Enemies jump on you, you stab them, they explode for no readily apparent reason, then more enemies fall on you out of the sky as if some giant monster-crapping pigeon was circling overhead.  And repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.

But none of this is the actual problem with the game.  The unlikeable main character, the unlikeable secondary characters, the uninspired story, the fact that the combat system has been targeted at preschoolers, even the fact that the entire game relies on a set of art assets adequate for a half-hour tech demo, none of that is what's really wrong here.  Even with all those flaws, there's still fun to be had.  Not a lot of fun, but some.

The problem is that while the story itself is uninspired, the telling of the story is a hundred times worse.  The game seems determined to yank you out of any immersion you might achieve.  Right at the start of the game, a family member and a companion are killed before your eyes.  And you will not care.  You don't know these people, and they're portrayed with all the liveliness of frozen oatmeal on a stick.

Once you get out of your darkspawn-infested village and make your way to the city of Kirkwall - which is where you'll be spending most of the game - you need to find enough money to bribe your way inside because they're not accepting any more refugees.  You have the choice of signing on for a year with either a smuggler or a mercenary company, and I chose the smuggler because it sounded like the missions would be more varied. 

Whichever one you choose, your first mission - to prove yourself and get hired - involves you killing a bunch of identical thugs, and your second mission doesn't ever happen.  The moment you're accepted, the game forgets about that part of the story, the part that would have established your character and made you glad to eventually return to the safe confines of Kirkwall, and simply skips ahead a year.

That's so inane it left me dumbfounded.  Give me something.  I don't expect or even want to play out every day in the life of Pirate Penny but give me something to indicate that it actually happened.  Because otherwise, as far as I'm concerned as a player, it didn't happen, and I was magically teleported into the city with no involvement on my part whatsoever.

What follows is an attempt to raise enough money to mount a treasure hunting expedition, which makes no sense because, as your own character points out, if you had enough money to fund the expedition you wouldn't need to do so.  When the characters in the story are pointing out that the plot is broken you have to assume that the writers have simply stopped caring, and if the creators of the game don't care then I see no reason why I should care about playing it.

And I don't.

As a standalone game it's just not very good.  As a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins - and don't try to tell me that something with a II on the end shouldn't be considered as a sequel - it's an embarrassment.  The only thing Bioware can do to recover at this point is to pretend that this game never happened and go back to the drawing board.

As a standalone game I give it 4/10.

As a sequel to the exceptional (though flawed) Dragon Age: Origins I give it -1/10.  It not only has nothing to offer in that respect, it actually detracts from the original.

Verdict: Wait for it to hit $5 on Steam and then buy something else.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:21 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 Thanks for saving me $5, Pixy!

(plus, I've probably gotten a couple of dollars worth of entertainment chortling at this series of posts)

Posted by: Hypozeuxis at Saturday, April 16 2011 08:59 AM (5eWak)

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