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Dragon Age 2 Demo Review

post #1 of 31
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This is strictly a review of the PC version of the demo.

Let me start off by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins on the PC. It was perhaps one of the greatest experiences I've had in gaming, along with playing Halo in my dorm room in college, and experiencing the expansiveness of World of Warcraft during the early years. It had its flaws, but by and large, it was one of the best RPGs to grace PCs (and gaming in general) in a long time. The combat was intuitive, yet complex. The storyline was intriguing, if not a bit contrived. Overall, a great game from an accomplished developer. Needless to say, Dragon Age 2 has a lot to live up to.

My initial impression with the opening of the DA2 demo was that the character models seemed to have been enhanced. The first cinematic seemed more polished than most of what I experienced in DAO. They seemed more alive, and their facial expressions along with their body language conveyed genuine emotion. It stayed true to the original's art direction, while taking it just a step further.

However, when the combat began, I realized just how much had really changed. The artwork during the first combat sequence seemed cartoonish and unrealistic. Furthermore, one of the things I enjoyed about DAO was the pace of the fighting. It was steady, and had the timing and flow of a real skirmish. You felt as though things were unfolding as they would in real life. The animations were practical and smooth, yet they still had flair. It was one of the greatest touches of the game. In DA2, the fighting is hectic, and tinged with excessive animations. I understand the need to 'do more' when it comes to sequels, but sometimes less is more, and unfortunately Bioware seems to have forgotten that little adage here.

More than this, was the inexcusable decision to remove the overhead, isometric view from the PC version of the game. In my opinion, this component was essential in making this game truly shine. It made tactics and decision making vital to gameplay, and without it, it's little more than a hack & slash port, which is what the DA2 demo ultimately seems to be.

Moreover, my feelings of this being a bad console port was further exacerbated by the fact that the game kept crashing when I was trying to max out the settings. I have a pretty up to date rig, and if I can't push it, then what's the point? Regardless of this, the game should be able to run on whatever settings that are available, but for some reason, after the initial combat sequence, and character customization menu, the game would crash while loading the next part. I've read online that Bioware has since addressed this issue in the code, and it should be fixed by the time the game hits shelves, but c'mon. This shouldn't have made it out even as a demo if something like this is as seemingly widespread as it is. In order to play through the whole demo, I had to lower my settings to medium, turn of anti-aliasing, and change it from DX11 to DX9. Just another unacceptable glitch from a developer as esteemed as Bioware. And if we're talking about gaining more potential buyers through the release of a demo, at least for the PC market, then this is a major SNAFU.

Overall, the game seemed to be a more streamlined version of the original. The level-up menu, and skill trees seemed to be simplified, and you have fewer choices. Even the menu system itself was cleaned up (dumbed down?). I suppose this can be seen as a good thing when it comes to accessibility, but personally, I prefer a screen filled with numbers and stats, and complicated skill trees. This gives me the feeling that the developer isn't catering to the lowest common denominator and allows me to really get into the nitty-gritty of the game. This decision seems to be in line with a lot of other developers these days, and it really has me frightened for the future of RPGs and gaming in general. That's why Origins was such a breath of fresh air.

One thing that doesn't seem to have lost any ground though, was the storytelling. During my brief time with the demo, there was no lack of drama. The cutscenes were well executed, and more importantly this time, our hero has a voice, which was something I had to knock points off in terms of the original. The simple addition of the main character having the power of speech seems to be a very compelling factor in my ability to immerse myself into the game. In DAO I felt detached because my character couldn't talk. I understand that some seem to believe that this is a plus when it comes to being able to fully immerse oneself into the character and have your own thoughts be the voice, but to me, in this day and age of gaming, you have to have a hero with a voice. Gratefully, the voice actors in this game are wonderful, and it really adds to the atmosphere.

To conclude, DAO without question was made with the PC gamer in mind primarily. DA2 is just seems like a lazy console port. I have yet to experience it on the PS3, but my guess would be that it plays a lot smoother with the controller than it does with the keyboard and mouse. But what is it that we're talking about here? We're talking about a game that, as PC gamers, we want to be the ultimate RPG experience. If Bioware can't give that to us, then who can? (Bethesda, I'm looking at you!) Of course, this is only a review of the demo, and things could be very different when the finished product is out, but if things are looking as bleak as they did in the demo, then I'm not sure I can lend my support to this one. Unless they figure out a way to add in an isometric view last minute, sadly, I may have to pass. A bad PC port of a console game at $59.99 is just too much to ask in my opinion.

Sorry if this was long. I wanted to get all my thoughts down for everyone who was thinking of getting this game, and also so I can sort out all my thoughts on it as well.

Let me know what you guys all think. Any and all opinions are welcome.
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post #2 of 31
forgot to rather mention that if you play the demo and got a bioware account and got it linked for say XBL account you get a free DLC out of it once you complete the demo.. o_O
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post #3 of 31
I agree with OP. But I blame EA, not Bioware. Same way I blame Activision and not IW for MW2
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post #4 of 31
i bet EA ****ed it up forced bioware to make it noob friendly and more appealing to console ******s
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post #5 of 31
Wow... On top of all of the other minor annoyances you listed like the simplified skill trees and interfaces, the no isometric camera issue makes this a do not buy for me...

Thanks for saving me the time I would have wasted downloading this steaming pile of ****.

Sorry Bioware; you sold your souls to EA.
Edited by evensen007 - 3/1/11 at 11:14am
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post #6 of 31
Include some pics?
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post #7 of 31
Thanks for the review. I haven't played the first Dragon age, but I'm going to download the demo for this and report back!
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post #8 of 31
WHAAAAT??? No over-head camera? Stupid! This is one of the things I really loved about the original. Shame on the developers at EA if this is the case for the full game version!

I downloaded the pc demo, but I haven't been able to play it yet. Steam is retarded, some games just don't work. I don't know why... my wife bought me New Vegas for Christmas, and I can't figure out how to get it to work. Sometimes I really hate you Steam!!
Edited by whitingnick - 3/5/11 at 8:30am
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post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rogueblade View Post
I agree with OP. But I blame EA, not Bioware. Same way I blame Activision and not IW for MW2
Quote:
Originally Posted by puffsNasco View Post
i bet EA ****ed it up forced bioware to make it noob friendly and more appealing to console ******s
I suppose you guys are right. I didn't take the publisher into account. I'm not entirely aware of how the relationship between the two companies work, but I would venture to say that there's major pressure coming from EA (The Evil Empire) to make these games in a certain fashion.

It's unfortunate, but I guess at the end of the day, commerce rules.
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post #10 of 31
Sadly that is usually the case. I guess they would rather have a dumbed down version that makes money rather than a great game that requires a moderate IQ to play and not rake in the coin.
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