Dragon Age 2 Demo

Several visitors to this blog asked me to check out the Dragon Age 2 demo and I finally had the chance to do so last night.

(Note: I played it on the xbox360… for comparison I never played Dragon Age Origins on a console, only the PC)

Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion based on playing the demo. And that I’m keeping this short, I’m too busy with the novel to go into any kind of detailed analysis.

Overall: I thought the demo showed promise — without playing the full game I can’t say whether that promise was fulfilled.

Some Good Things
I am impressed at how put together the demo is after such a short development cycle. It seemed mostly polished, only a couple minor glitches and whatnot. And these were major engine changes that occurred from DA:O to DA2. So, impressed at the time frame.

The world is still there, though the art has changed. I still felt a part of the Dragon Age ‘universe’ and that nothing of the canon set in place in the original has been tampered with. And that the original had been built upon. So that’s cool.

Some Not-So-Good Things (in my opinion)
I understand why the first fight was done using a ‘super powered’ character. I get it. But it almost made me stop playing the demo. I don’t know if its because I had read so much negativity in regards to the combat changes or what but that first fight was a button mashing nightmare with no tactics coming into play. I was pretty horrified to be honest, I just closed my eyes, smashed buttons, and I won.

Later as I played with a proper character, through proper progression, I understood what was going on. Certainly not tactical the way I’d define tactical but not a pure action game either.

Really DA2 is neither an action game or a tactical semi-turned based RPG (like BG2 was and to a lesser degree DA:O was). It falls in the middle somewhere and like anything that doesn’t really define itself it has the potential to alienate players at either end of the spectrum. It is difficult to make both styles of gameplay awesome in the same game.

As an action game it is not responsive enough (i.e., I was clobbered by the ogre even after I was on the other side of the map several times) and as a tactical game I really mostly only controlled one character unless it died… there was no need, at least in the demo, to control party members.

Other Points
Not choosing race is a Very Bad Thing and has everything to do with cinematic limitations — characters with different heights and sizes are difficult to build cinematic conversation for — as well the choice impacts the amount of dialog that needs to be written. But aliens and fantasy races are cool. Humans are boring (except my kids and my wife and some of you… you know who you are).

As for the dialog itself, its what I expected. Some of it is visually beautiful but interactive movies have never been the kinds of games I wanted to play. So kudos to the team for the great work but, as always, I kind of wish the huge effort I know it takes to build those cinematic experiences could be spent on gameplay.

Overall I was impressed, the team really put together a strong title in such a short period of time. I don’t think some of the changes needed to happen (especially if Dragon Age has sold as well as has been indicated) but only the marketplace will tell us whether it was the right or the wrong thing to do.

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  • http://twitter.com/Flindyrs Quinn Flinders

    But is the Codex included in those 400,000 words? The majority came from Origins to bring the non-Origins players up to speed. And the new ones were …. short.

    Thanks for the numbers Dave!

    Quinny

    Current score: 0

  • http://twitter.com/Flindyrs Quinn Flinders

    I’ve certainly done my fair share of editing! When I’d find a spot that just didn’t seem right I’d read it backwards, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph. Would catch that little thing. And that little thing is usually just a feeling. But also works well with sentence structure and paragraph continuity. Slow but powerful. Try it sometime, think you’ll like it :D

    Quinny

    Current score: 0

  • http://twitter.com/Flindyrs Quinn Flinders

    Brent I thought I would share this since you can relate to “choices” whether action or word based since you have kidlets. And well, Origins.

    I think this goes back in my family a couple generations and we are all avid readers, some writers and all around good people because of it. Not to mention everyone got college scholarships.

    At family gatherings when one of the little kids answers a “why” question with an “I dunno” everyone snickers because we all know what is coming. You see, “I dunno” was never acceptable.

    We were presented with reading material appropriate for our age. Then had to sit and read by our parent, quietly. When we could answer the question asked we were released from reading, until the next time. This was consistently repeated until the “I dunno” was obliterated. We all remember sitting and reading for hours and days, pausing to think about the answer. Then reading again.

    It still boggles our minds how this simple, quiet exercise had such far reaching positive impact.

    Just a little tidbit from my family to yours. Enjoy.

    Quinny

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Quinny,

    Good points again… thanks!

    - Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Good advice, thanks! Sometimes it takes looking at a block of text in a different way to catch the errors.

    Current score: 0

  • Jean

    I think the worst “hilariously bad” situation was when you find the remains of an unfortunate Chantry sister in Darktown and is tasked to return her to the Chantry. When you do, Hawke literally gives a generic turn-in line; “I believe I’ve found something which belongs to you”, and the Chantry guy indifferently replies “Oh yes, I wondered where I lost that, here’s some gold.”

    Pretty obvious the whole deal was rushed indeed.

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    What a great family tradition! I’ll keep this in mind as my children get older. Thanks.

    - Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Ouch.

    Current score: 0

  • http://twitter.com/Flindyrs Quinn Flinders

    Glad you liked it! Have a couple more.

    The prelude to Christmas that drove us nuts. All year it was a rule, all our “stuff” had to be picked up (our rooms were off limits for this) by Friday night before bed. After bed mom would go around and see if anything was left out. If it was she would pick it up and hide it in a box in her hiding place we never found. We got our “stuff” back all wrapped under the Christmas tree. We had to do without whatever it was until then. Dirty socks, school books, gym clothes, you name it… gone til Christmas. But that wasn’t the end. Santa only allowed x number of gifts, so if anything was under the tree from the hidden place, we got that less new things from Santa. We thought our old stuff was better than lumps of coal but became very good picker upers.

    Each Christmas the entire family has to get together and make one ornament for the tree. Can’t tell you how magnificent a tree looks after over 20 yrs.

    And the one gift. Each in the family must either make or give a personal loved possesion as a gift for under the tree. There is only a “From” but no “To”. You can choose youngest to oldest or any order you want for them to pick which package they want. Next person can choose a new one under the tree or one someone else chose. And it continues until all are taken. This is usually the one we did Christmas morning as we always had a gathering Christmas Eve for dinner and opening presents.

    Hope you like these also and maybe even trigger inspiration for your writing.

    Quinny

    Current score: 0

  • http://twitter.com/Flindyrs Quinn Flinders

    I don’t know if you have checked the numbers but the new ones just came in.
    About 1mil units sold in 2 1/2 wks. After week 1 it is about a 67% drop.

    Not sure how much will change even with a patch since it has been declared DA2 is the new base for future releases with only a very small rpg part of Origins being included. Makes me sad. But I think this short post sums up the Origins fanbase pretty well:

    I think a lot of the anger comes from the perception that the game is moving in a direction (good or bad) that leaves entrenched fans behind. People feel as though the Dragon Age series is “their” game, the game made for old-school CRPG players. Bioware has been a sort of home for these players, the one place where a fairly immersive RPG might be made. As Bioware takes the game in a new direction, it’s like watching the taillights shrink in the distance as one’s beloved drives away. That’s where you get the hyperbolic emotion about the game. It’s not seen as a “meh” game by those with emotional commitment–it’s a betrayal, an abandonment.

    So I suppose you’ll finish up your to-do’s over the next few weeks and play through the game to see just what the heck they did. Or not :P Your writing does sound like more fun.

    Quinny

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Pretty cool traditions, particularly like the gift exchange, will have to think about that one for next year. Thanks!

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Quinny,

    Thanks for the numbers. Will have to dig around with old numbers to put them into context.

    I definitely agree with the quote… Origins was definitely sold as ‘here is the place for you to enjoy the type of game you like’ with Mass Effect being the ‘other type of game’ that you may or may not enjoy. I really like diversification and worry over BioWare putting all their eggs into one basket but we’ll see.

    As for playing it … once this novel is out of the house I have a bunch of stories to clean up and then onto the next novel.

    Thanks,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://twitter.com/Flindyrs Quinn Flinders

    Although it is very sad to see the direction they are taking, I can can understand that route being better if they need to cut their cost of development. I would hate to see a company go down the drain by jumping into an arena where there is the most competition and hope it works out.

    Keep up with your writing, you are very good.

    Quinny

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Thank you very much!

    Current score: 0

  • Jean

    Hey Brent, I’ve been wondering. Now that the dust has settled and the reception to DA2 has been, well, “mixed”… If BioWare decided to go for a more “back to the roots” approach with DA3 and try to appeal to their older fans / the DA1 core, would you consider getting back on board for it?

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Jean,

    I don’t think its likely they’ll do a reversal but even if they did I’m really enjoying retirement. I get to work on whatever I want whenever I want.

    (Of course actually getting paid again would be kind of cool)

    I really don’t see myself leaping back into the mainstream game design business. That said I almost wrote ‘unless somebody offered me the Ultima franchise’ until I remembered who owned that :)

    - Brent

    Current score: 0

  • Jerrybnsn

    I read this on a bioware website discussing an interview with DA2′s lead level designer.

    Q: Blood Magic is a forbidden art in the world of DA2, but the main character uses it freely during the game against civilians and Templars. How is that logical?

    A: Well, sometimes you have to give up perfect inner logic to make the game more fun. This is one of these cases. Anyway, this can be explained by the fact that the champion is someone who can do whatever he wants. No one is bold enough to lecture him about that. This is kind of like when the authorities ignore certain crimes because the criminal’s aid is of great importance.”

    to which somone posted–” You should NOT have to sacrifice logic to make combat fun. You should design your levels more intelligently so that you aren’t fighting in the middle of a public place and not getting any reaction from people, or from Templars. If for story reasons you have to have a public fight, and witnesses will live to attest that you are using blood magic, etc. then there needs to be a logical way out of that. Maybe being seen using Blood Magic could instantly align you with the Mages, and cause the Templars to see you as a threat.

    For example, I like how in Origins, if you get caught pick-pocketing in Denerim, when you are traveling it will trigger an encounter with a huge number of guards who are there to bring you to justice. That sense of consequence made pick-pocketing more of a challenge and a risk, thus creating depth. It also increased immersion.

    The idea of excusing everything Hawk does as “OMG, he is just too awesome, so no one will EVER challenge him at any point in the game” is just pants on head retarded. It ruins the entire concept of NOT being some ‘chosen one’ or ‘hero’… it ruins the concept of being a guy who starts off as a nobody and has to EARN a reputation and power in Kirkwal.

    It really is as though the writing devs and the design devs are COMPLETELY at odds with each other on this game, and Laidow should have noticed that, and should have made some tough calls as to WHAT this game is about, and WHAT can actually be accomplished without constant immersion breakers and a sense of dissonance between the story/cutscenes and game play/game mechanics.” http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/141/index/6716182/7

    I still don’t plan on buying this game, but following this soap opera that has become DA2 is fascinating. It’s like watching a train wreck unfold.

    Current score: 0

  • Robert

    The problems with DA2 (just finished it this evening) are many.

    1) I’ll never again buy a game that requires online registration. If this means my future non-MMO = piracy so be it. After the first 10 hours I knew I was pretty done and would normally have given this to my nephew but it is tied to my bioware/EA account. Blizzard did this with starcraft 2 and has lost me if they keep this up.

    2) I was really pissed to find that choices in the first 5 seconds of the game eliminated a character from the game (bethany). No, I’m not going to replay through it to have her instead of Carver. Having some characters die or not depending on who you brought with you w/o any clues to this before hand means, they die, and you read about it after the fact.

    3) There was no decision making in the game. A lot of red shirts die/live but otherwise it was pointless. In fact many of the decisions like in the bar with the madam gave you a 1-2 second line difference. To the point where I stopped bothering to see what different decisions did. It took longer to load a save than what the new decision point gave you.

    4) The same 4-5 rooms where you hit each one 5-6 times sucked.

    5) It was very difficult to upgrade companion gear. Combine that with the fact that except for one fight in the fade, all the encounters were easy enough to afk and let them fight it. Sure I could have ratcheted it up to ludicrous difficulty but whats the point. At normal difficulty the mobs were so easy that the designers had only 2 options, throw 10 waves at you or double the hp bar of some of the mobs. Boring. This lead me to stop even caring about companion skills I just auto level up after about level 10. In fact after I got rez/group heal I even would just auto level up hawke.

    6) The quest setup sucked. I didn’t realize half the quests were there unless I accidentally walked to a companions “hangout”. Most of the time that companion was in my party so they would just get the quest icon on their head. Almost all the times this happened I would go through 5-6 quests in about 2 minutes. Crappy planning throughout. Having to run a quest run back to turn in then run back out there to the exact same place…sucked.

    7) The camera, what the hell? I swear the most tedious part of this game is having to click 500000000 times on the ground to move from one spot to the other. About half those times just wanting to get to the map screen to leave the area.

    8) I didn’t care about money, and I didn’t care about equipment…in an RPG.

    robert

    Current score: 0

  • http://twitter.com/ZuljinRaynor ZuljinRaynor

    I really loved Dragon Age: Origins. I really disliked Dragon Age II. So much so that I uninstalled the game from my computer. I rarely do this.

    As a warning, there might be a few spoilers in here.

    As an RPG player, I was mainly exposed to JRPGs and Action RPGs such as Elder Scrolls (and then Fallout 3). I never had played the old Balder’s Gate, Icewind Dale, or other Infinity Engine games. I had played Mass Effect, some of Neverwinter Nights, and that was about it. Bioware wasn’t a name that I flocked to, but some of my friends really liked Bioware games.

    So along came Dragon Age: Origins. I was somewhat interested in it. Then I saw those advertisements. Medieval Fantasy that’s… extreme? Sounded interesting, but the extreme nature put me off. Eventually my friends persuaded me into wanting it, and one of them gifted it to me on Steam. This was a few months after launch.

    I put around 45 hours in the first time. I had never played a party based RPG before. I did own Icewind Dale, but I could not wrap my head around the rules. Even after 45 hours, I felt like I made my character wrong and shelved (so to speak, since I had a digital copy) the game. During this time I played the original Fallout, which is my favorite in that series, Mass Effect 1 (replay) and Mass Effect 2. I played Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas.

    But I digress. I was browsing the Bioware site and decided to buy the rest of the DLC. Maybe I could get back into the game. At the very least I could play the Leliana DLC since I enjoyed that character before.

    Long story short, I was back in the game. I put in 80 hours into Dragon Age: Origins and enjoyed every minute of it. The characters all grew on me differently that before. Well, except for Zevran who I wasn’t too fond of before so I took him out earlier. Either way, I loved the game. While playing it, I thought about the choices, the characters, and everything outside of the game as well. I felt like this was the game I was waiting for all my life. Generic art design? Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t mind that, it felt like the world wasn’t trying to be out there, it felt grounded. I put in another 20 hours into Awakening. Once again, characters grew on me. At first I thought Anders was annoying, but, then I really liked him (even though his “Have I ever told you that I find tattoos on women incredibly attractive?” line kept repeating).

    Either way, I loved everything. I loved the fact that my PC wasn’t voiced. I loved the fact I could read my choices. I loved the combat and everything. I forgave the bugs (that still exist) because I loved it.

    I was hyped for Dragon Age II, but reading everything, from the moment they said combat was going to be faster, I was skeptical. I preordered it as soon as it came on Steam, despite this. Every passing day, I was more fearful of the results.

    Then came the demo. It was everything I thought Dragon Age: Origins was going to be from the marketing that game had. This was not a good thing. The animation was faster, and ridiculous. I believe Laidlaw said that in Origins the mage was flashy while Warrior and Rogue were boring. I didn’t find the Warrior boring at all. In Dragon Age II, I found everything ridiculous. The mages were too flashy. Warriors and Rogues moved at impossible speeds. I couldn’t tell the difference between using a skill (or talent; I always mix those up) and normal attacks.

    Not to mention it was easy.

    Out comes the full game. I play it on hard. It is challenging, yes. I have to pause and what not. But, there is a problem. Nearly every battle has extra waves of enemies, and you have to kite them with your characters. I’m not a fan of kiting. When I played MMORPGs, I never wanted to kite. It’s all I had to do in Dragon Age II.

    Before I continue with combat, I want to say something about Hawke. I don’t like the voiced PC. It worked in Mass Effect, because from the start I felt like it was going to be a movie. The Dialog Wheel, however, still does not work. The short blurbs they give you usually are not similar to what you expect Hawke to say, and, as a heavy Role Player (I role play in any game, FPS, RTS, RPG, anything…) I really don’t like it. I can deal with the voiced character, but the dialog is rather annoying. And, although I did play a Human Noble in Origins, I did not like the fact that you have to be Hawke in Dragon Age II.

    This is already too long, but, there is nothing in Dragon Age II that I enjoyed. The repeating areas were mind numbingly boring. The combat, which I scaled down to Normal, was also boring me to tears. On Normal it was too easy. On Hard, it was just me kiting all the time. That is not fun. The companions, well, my favorite, and only one I liked, was Bethany. However, do to events, that occur, she isn’t a permanent character (which can be inferred from her lack of a unique skill tree). What am I left with? Characters I don’t like. Anders, what happened to him… I can’t stand him at all now.

    All of this could be overlooked, however I was tired of Kirkwall and the repeating areas so much that I did not progress farther than half way through Act II.

    Oh, but it does not end there. The fact is, they bring back certain characters from Dragon Age Origins, which to my great annoyance, basically disregards epilogue endings. I was quite displeased also that my Warden for some reason was not travelling with her love interest after they both said they would. This was kind of annoying in Witch Hunt as well, but extremely aggravating in Dragon Age II that they would make such a decision for my Warden.

    Speaking of romances, I found all of them to be appalling poorly written in Dragon Age II. They all seemed like a joke. The dialog made me cringe.

    Oh, and the last thing, I really do not like how they added more swears. This annoyed me with Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect felt like most sci-fi movies I’ve seen. They rarely use explicit swears in those as it does not seem sci-fi to me. Then in Mass Effect 2 they drop a ton of f-bombs. Now, swearing does not offend me, but I found its use rather odd and not fitting of the world I remember. The same goes for Dragon Age II. All of the sudden, it’s not just “sod” they are using, but other swears and more frequently. It disconnects me, especially since Origins felt like a medieval fantasy, while this one feels like modern times in medieval castles.

    I’m not sure what points I still wanted to cover, however, my disappointment with Dragon Age II was so great (in fact, I have never been this disappointed in my life before, which I find distressful that a game is my biggest disappointment in life) that I went out and looked for alternatives. Dragon Age: Origins was a spiritual successor to Balder’s Gate, so let’s look into those games.

    Safe to say, I picked up the old Infinity engine games. Right now I’m playing through Icewind Dale, as I already owned it and felt obligated to play it first, and I’m enjoying it. The writing, I find, extremely more interesting that Dragon Age II, and this game is a glorified dungeon crawler! Safe to say, this time I understand the rules, thanks to applying knowledge from Dragon Age: Origins, as well as I really enjoyed making my entire party. The game opens a lot of role playing options in my imagination. Afterwards, I plan on playing the other games (probably Planescape Torment first) and hopefully enjoying myself.

    I find it that, even though I haven’t been an old-school RPG gamer, nor have I been a Bioware fan for long, that I was betrayed. I really wonder if I will enjoy Mass Effect 3, or if Dragon Age 3 will deal with the Warden in some way so I will feel I need to play it. Either way, I hope that Obsidian sticks to what they do best, with great writing and stories, so they satisfy this new born old-school RPG gamer in me.

    Thank you for your time. I felt I needed to speak about this somewhere, and this felt like the best place for me to do it.

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Jerry,

    You are right, these sorts of events kill immersion in the game world *but* there is a balance. I would not say they writing devs and design devs are completely at odds so much as it is difficult to balance the two needs (using solutions like you suggested) on a development time frame such as DA2 had. Complex RPGs need a lot of time to fine tune and I’m not sure DA2 had that.

    I think games like this feel more authentic when instead of taking simple solutions the designers and writers are challenged to work together to find solutions that both improve the gameplay and enhance the world immersion. Not always an easy thing to do.

    Thanks,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Hi. Thanks for the comments. I think many players feel the way you do, which is unfortunate that DA2 has struck such an unpleasant chord for some.

    I hope you enjoy the older games and I hope that in the future there are studios who make more of what you like to play!

    All the best,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Robert,

    1) Totally agree with you. I’m not a huge game buyer anymore but if I know a game uses online authentication I avoid it. Tying it to the account is a cheap cash grab from companies desperate to please shareholders and I do find the practice appalling.

    8) I didn’t care about money, and I didn’t care about equipment…in an RPG.

    Yeah that’s disturbing. And unfortunately I think the trend will be to remove money and equipment instead of spending the time to balance economies.

    Thanks for the insights, they were interesting.

    Take care,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • Arl Howe Fan

    Just as my NOBLE DWARF Grey Warden saved Ferelden… would you ever consider returning to Bioware as Lead Developer for DA3 & save the Dragon Age franchise from total annihilation? I think you are the only “Champion” who could redeem this franchise in the eyes of it’s once loyal, now disillusioned fan base.

    DAO – one of my favorite games of all-time
    DA2 – one of my least favorite games of all-time

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Sorry Arl Howe Fan I’ve put down my… my… sword of righteous game design and am enjoying sitting around and… drinking fine ale while I remember past victories.

    I’m very glad DAO is one of your favorite games though!

    Take care,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • Dennis

    Brent,

    I know you are always short on time, so I’ll try to be brief.

    While many praise DAO as being a great game, I’d like to address it as a True Art instead. We’re used to Movies, Books and Visual Art to be addressed this way, but it’s very rare for a game to touch strings of my soul so deeply. While any entertainment industry has to work with a lot of technical skills and hundreds of talented people, it’s never a guarantee for an Art to be revealed as result: game can have best writing, scripting and design in it’s core, but still be empty nutshell.

    Dragon Age Origins has a soul and every time I play it, I’m never playing a game, but rather connecting myself to something distant, important and very-very personal (the feeling that I was never able to experience outside of my real life before – meeting my wife, having my first child).

    Therefore I’d like to thank you for being a part of it and to let you know how much your work changed my perception in so many ways. It means a world to me.

    Thank you for everything,
    Dennis

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Dennis,

    Thank you for the very kind words!

    Take care,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PE6NGMLT5GO732RZYY3UFB3ZQQ Rene Holzegger

    Well, hello…

    i can´t believe i have not noticed your site before, especially as a long time Bioware fan from the first game on. Better late than never, oh and sorry for my English, it´s not my native language.

    First a question, the novels you write will they be published in other languages (german in this case) too?

    Second, i wish you would have done Dragon Age 2! I have finished my 2nd play through the game and overall, it´s…i don´t know, i think it would be unfair to say it sucks. There are some great moments in the game, and mostly i´m pleased with the writing, i was not surprised to learn that Mary was responsible for the writing on Varrick and Merrill, both characters i enjoyed immensely.

    The biggest problem with DA2 is, to me, that even the great parts of the game, have a down side. As fun as it was to listen to your party members, and some of the party banter is really hilarious, it also makes them quiet shallow because there is not that much and you can´t talk to them, you never learn more about them, except that little bit that gets told in the scripted events. It´s not enough to “bond” with them like in other Bioware titles.

    The art changes are difficult to address, i like the new look of the Qunari, but dislike the rest. (don´t tell me you like the new Darkspawn…) It´s a matter of taste, however it´s easily understandable that a lot of fans were upset, after all we Origins fans were used to how everything looked in the first game.

    The technical side also comes with problems. Graphics have improved a bit, at the same time the games runs worse than Crysis 2 on max settings. Bugs happen, they are still in Origins and Awakening is still very problematic. But, there are some bugs in the game that make it unplayable. I was lucky to not had them, still consoles are suffering from constant freezes, corrupted save games and the companion ability bugs from Isabela and Sebastian that makes your PC unable to fight/move after some time.

    I won´t say much to the reusing of areas, it´s totally over the top and of course players are angry about it, what made that worse was an interview with the Lead Level Designer who said something like “i didn´t expect that reaction”…right, because that never happened before. In fact the whole interview was horrible. *sigh*

    Choices in fact don´t matter. Even though some people try to tell me otherwise, but i did everything different with my second character, it was almost the same game. A few different lines don´t make much of a difference.

    The whole roleplaying part didn´t worked out for me, i could never imagine myself as Hawke, never. I had no choice that mattered or at last gave me the illusion of importance to make me believe otherwise. I always had the feeling i play Biowares Hawke and not my character. I already had the same problem with Mass Effect 2. It can be fun, it´s like…watching an interactive movie, but while i do enjoy Mass Effect and the story it tells, i want more out a fantasy RPG. If i act like a monster i want my party member to leave me, if i decide to kill an important person i want the game to reflect that. The story over 10 years just didn´t work out well either.

    Oh, and of course i hate combat. I know, but i can´t change it. Animations look good, but running and kitting is enough for the (very tiring) boss fights. Even on Nightmare, it was pretty dull. Combine that with useless waves of critters and you have an action based combat with some tactical movement. Other games do that better and don´t try at the same time to give you the RPG experience.

    Keeping all that in mind i have to laugh a bit at some of the high scores from professional game testers. While at the same time player reviews so far tend to be far more negative.

    I´m really curious what that all will mean for Dragon Age 3, but only time will tell.

    About the online activation, i don´t have a problem with it, however it could and has been done without adding the game to an account. That is of course nothing but ridiculous. Only permanent online modus for single player keeps me from buying game.

    Anyway, it also had a positive side for me, after playing DA2 i started again an Origins character and i have a great time with it, oh and i also installed Baldurs Gate 2 again, i can´t help it, even after all these years i find it so brilliant. (and it also runs perfectly on Win7 64bit…)

    Better stop now that was kinda long. Maybe you will write a full review of DA2 if you play it :)

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Rene,

    Glad you found the blog and thank you for the balanced review of Dragon Age 2 (and no, I’m not overly fond of some of the art changes I saw, especially the darkspawn).

    As I haven’t played the whole game (and probably won’t) I can’t comment on some of the specifics you mention other than that I had noticed the kiting issue in the demo as well and had hoped it wasn’t prevalent throughout the entire game. As you said it makes boss battles dull.

    As for my novels, they are yet to find a publisher but when they do I’ll definitely try and have them appear in as many languages as I can, including German!

    Thanks for stopping by and take care,

    Brent

    Current score: 0

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_74HHWZ4CRBKHDY6PDTY3WZIGLY BEN

    Brent- Just found the site, I can totally agree with qweryuiop. I felt like the Developer Diaries and trailers billed Hawke as a person of immense importance to the story and the entire world. But nothing could be really further from the truth. Basically, the PC is sort of dragged along for the length of the game because not only do your choices (which should be paramount in an RPG) not matter, some of your companions actually drive certain elements of the story. This lack of “meat” from a main character standpoint might not be that much of a let down from me, IF any of the PC’s choices amounted to much in the grand scheme of the game. I was led to believe I was this great character who somehow changes the fate of the continent of Thedas, when in truth, I’m only dragged towards one scripted ending, without much build up until the climax is basically right on top of me.

    No amount of responses can adequetely express how heavily recycled the environments were. Your character was literally returning to the same floorplan dungeons with different rooms sealed off each time. I felt like I was promised a new art style, but in hindsight, maybe I was wrong to expect it.

    I feel like they tried to squeeze too many “experiences” or genres into this game and they ultimately failed to deliver what i’m used to from Bioware.

    Current score: 0

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Hi Ben

    Thanks for the perspective. Will be interesting to see where Dragon Age 3 takes things.

    Take care,

    Brent

    Current score: 0