BioWare has done it again. DA2 is a beautifully crafted D&D-esque RPG that will peak your interest and capture your attention for hours at a time.
Story 10 The story begins as a retrospective tale told by your companion. As the story unfolds, you will return to this telling and little tidbits are dropped which will keep the suspense high. It's a storytelling mechanic that's used time and time again, but that's because it works well and it's no exception here. The story remains intriguing despite the fact that you know little of why the tale is being told at all for some time.
Character 10 Your companions are well-rounded and unique people, even if you may not like some of them. In this case, that is a good thing as it makes them feel more real. As true with BioWare's RPGs, you create your own character by choosing how they react to others. Although you may be somewhat limited by your choices (it is still a game), the amount of options allows a great deal of variety.
Gameplay 8 The gameplay is entertaining and allows you a lot of specialization, especially with your own character. As you get to choose how to develop the character when you gain a level, you can truly customize your characters. The actual battles are fun, but keeping everyone's health up can be a bit of a challenge. Enemies spawn chaotically around the area and can pummel your mage before you get the chance to defend them.
Graphics 7 The graphics were solid and didn't take away from the game at all, but didn't enhance the experience either. They felt like they were missing something, although they did an excellent job with showing emotions through facial features.
Sound 8 The sound quality was excellent and the voice overs were well acted and suited the characters nicely. The music helped add to the overall mood of the scene, but generally blended into the background. This was not a bad thing here, as background music shouldn't be too noticeable.
Dragon Age 2 is something of a disappointment. The first game was an unapologeticly traditional RPG. You gathered a party, upgraded equipment, leveled up stats, and went on a quest to save the world. The gameplay was also traditional. Although you could play the game in real time, the harder battles almost made it manditory that you use the pause feature to issue commands individually.
Although DA2 sticks to the same formula, some elements have been removed for simplified to appeal to a wider audience. For example, combat is much easier now. Even in the end game battles, you never need to pause and issue commands. There's no longer an auto attack, which means that you'll have to constandly mass the A button to attack. Thus leading to a more arcade style combat system.
The story has been simplifed as well. Where as the first game had a country spanning epic tale, DA2 focuses on a new character and his struggles in the free city of Kirkwall. Most of the game takes place within the city, but you will occasionaly go to nearby areas outside the gates. The problem is that DA2 reuses a lot of dungeons as different areas. This makes the game seem even smaller. Even when you're not exploring the same map pretending to be a different place, you're revisting the same small areas in the city for the 30th time. Overall, the game is much smaller. It took me 35 hours to beat the game on the first playthrough doing all the side quests. Compared to the first game that took more than 50 hours, not including DLC.
It's not all bad. The visual style is greatly improved from DA1. The story is also more emotionally charged, and benefits greatly from the Mass Effect style dialog choices. There are also tough choices to make, and companions will live and die by the outcome. Overall, DA2 isn't as complex or immersive as the first game. It's still got a great story, and it kept me interested enough to see it through to the end. I just wont play through again.
Dragon Age: Origins was a great game. Unfortunately Dragon Age 2 is just shy of a great game. It feels as though its a prelude to something big that is about to come. The graphics are much better, as well as the gameplay. But if you're expecting an epic ending, you're playing the wrong game. There isn't much of a story going on here. If anything its good just for the fighting alone. Which will happen alot. I'd also like to point out that many of the locations (i.e. caves and dungeons) are all the same. It gets pretty annoying since you come across those locations most of the time you're playing.
Like I said, its not a perfect game. But its a good rental.