Hours In: 2.5
Character Level: 4
My Score: 55 (-15)
Metacritic Score: 84 (no change)
In my previous post, I gave Dragon Age 2 a baseline, "sight unseen" score of 70. I didn't explain my rationale for that score because, honestly, I didn't put a lot of thought into it. It wasn't intended to be some sort of objective measure, but merely a starting point for the sake of comparison. The important thing was for there to be considerable distance to a perfect 100, as I didn't agree with many of the design changes in Dragon Age 2 and was not impressed with the demo. I wanted there to be plenty of room to raise my score in case I was pleasantly surprised.
After my first play session, I don't think that's going to be a problem. So far, it appears the demo is an accurate gauge of the game's quality.
In fact, the demo is the game - at least, the first 30 minutes of it. It was a bit painful having to play through this scenario again, though going through it with a character of my own design (Nemorem Hawke, mage) made it tolerable. As far as I could tell, nothing significant has changed in this section of the game, aside perhaps for some technical fixes.
After the fast-paced beginning, things slow down to a surprising extent when you get to Kirkwall, a city that resembles nothing so much as the Imperial City from Jade Empire. As in Jade Empire, Dragon Age 2's strategy for portraying a large, bustling city is to treat its denizens as non-interactive background props. It makes sense - after all, who ever read those one-liner conversations attached to "commoners" on the street in previous city adventures? However, Kirkwall, with areas that are both small and desolate, seems downright insubstantial to this point. It badly needs more places to go and things to click on.
|This "district" is about the size of my living room, and has no interactive NPCs in it. At least there's a barrel to look in.|
I also have an issue with the writing, which like Origins seems competent but mono-voice. So far, there doesn't seem to be even an attempt to add color or distinctiveness to a character. In Origins, I felt the excellent voice acting made up for the fact that most characters seemed to share the same vocabulary and dry sense of humor. I don't feel the same way about Dragon Age 2 so far, and the worst part is that the voiced PC gets dragged into this dull (though mildly witty) uniformity that apparently represents conversation in Thedas.
There were other disappointments, but I don't want to turn this into any more of a rant than it already is. This has to be the low point of my experience with Dragon Age 2... right?