The lights are on
Dragon Age 2 is easily more comfortable for the console than Origins. The button mashing is more engaging than auto attack(especially how ranged fighters will alter their attacks when confronted at close range), but at the same time, it feels less tactical than Origins. If you want a decent healer in your party, but don't want to play a mage or hate Anders, then you're out of luck. While in Origins you could change an npc's playstyle as you develop them, every npc in 2 has a predetermined specialization. While it's fine if you like the character, it becomes annoying when you realize you could potentially be stuck with them. One of the things I like about Dragon Age is the existence of morality without a bar or meter telling you to be one or another. One playthrough, I played a sarcastic warrior who did the right thing, another, I played a polite bad guy. The new system is more clear in its intention, which is welcomed. Another improvement is npc development. The npc's in the game had more interesting back stories and their side missions worthwhile ventures. It also felt good when you could select certain party members to answer with their own form of dialogue in certain conversations. My biggest complaint about the game would have to be the illusion of player choice. In Origins, there was the Blight which had to stopped at all costs. In 2, there is no clear objective and the game forces you along certain paths even when your character has no reasonable motivation to do so. A part that angered me was when a quest giver offered a quest and I had the option to deny it(the dialogue option even had the red x to symbolize it). I said no and quest giver essentially said that they'll wait there until I come back. The game refused to let me move on with the story until I came back and said yes. There was no motivation for my character, and the quest had no direct impact on my current situation(it did for a separate situation that didn't involve my character until later). Much of the main story line feels just like that. The ending is the same no matter who you side with and at the end of it all, the victories feel hollow. I always play through at least twice as good and bad and both characters went through the story the same way even though they rarely shared the same dialogue. If you're willing to ignore the main story, the game plays well enough and there are some golden moments, but if you're looking for a meaningful rpg experience, I suggest just going back to Origins.
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