Sunday, April 10

Rant

Kicking Dragon Age II Some More

I went poking around the review sites to see if Dragon Age II was worth playing after all.

The verdict is: If you liked Dragon Age: Origins, if you like Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate, if you're looking for more of the same - Dragon Age II is not it.

Warning sign one: The lead designer of Dragon Age: Origins left Bioware when he decided he wasn't interested in the direction Dragon Age II was taking.

Warning sign two: The game was designed with sequels in mind.  The opposite is true of Dragon Age: Origins, which tells its story to the end.  Depending on the choices you make, there isn't even a hook for the expansions Bioware already released.

Warning sign three: EA bought Bioware.

Warning sign four: The review scores are lower than the original (down from 9.5 to 8) and the user scores are lower than the review scores (7.3 vs 8).  That second part is significant: For a title targeting a particular niche, you'll often see user scores higher than the review scores, because a flawed game that caters well to its target audience can still be a hit.  When the review score is down and the user score is lower still, that means it's a big disappointment.

Of course, I pre-ordered it to get the extra goodies, so I didn't get to see the reviews first.  But I'm not nearly as cross about the $60 I wasted as I am about the potential Bioware wasted.  They had an excellent game, an interesting world, a history, a cast of characters already brought to life that they could build on, and they produced something...  Adequate, and disconnected.

Warning sign five: There's an introduction to your character near the beginning of the game.  It's being told as a story within a story at that point, and the character you play then is not necessarily the character you will create for the game.  It's the default.  The moment my character opened her mouth I wanted her to be eaten by the darkspawn.

Warning sign six: Once you actually create your character and flee the destruction of Lothering (and these people were not in Lothering; I was there; I know) you need to earn money to bribe your family's way into the city of Kirkwall.  You have a choice of either joining a mercenary company or a smuggler for a year to pay off the debt you incur.  I joined the mercenary company, and was looking forward to seeing what sort of missions I got sent on.  It doesn't happen.  The game just skips forward a year.  And according to this review, that disconnect between the story as it is intended and the story as it is told only gets worse as the game progresses.

Warning sign seven: The music for Dragon Age: Origins that plays when you fire up the game launcher is gorgeous.  (The music for Mass Effect is pretty nice too.) I sometimes stop just to listen to it.  The music for Dragon Age II starts off with an unpleasant drawn out violin chord (or something like that) that makes me want to click away as quickly as possible.

Warning sign eight: The user interface for Dragon Age: Origins feels right.  It fits the game.  The user interface for Dragon Age II looks like it was swiped from some indie budget RTS title.  It's awkard, ill-considered, and incredibly jarring.

You know what this game is?  It's The Phantom Menace.  It might be an okay-ish game in it's own right, but it's not Dragon Age.

The one good reason, the one good reason to play this game for just a couple of hours is so that you can properly appreciate it when Zero Punctuation tears it apart.

Update: Rock, Paper, Shotgun says it's much, much worse than that.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:06 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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