Thursday, March 10, 2011

DA2 Playthrough: Things are looking up

Hours In: 5.5
Character Level: 6
My Score: 65 (+10)
Metacritic Score: 84 (no change)

A few hours can make a big difference, apparently. I'm actually tempted to raise my score a bit further, but that would probably be an overreaction. If nothing else, this exercise of updating my rating on the fly should illustrate the dangers of voicing an opinion before you have all the facts.

The major improvement is that the "critical path" has released its stranglehold on Hawke, allowing me the freedom to wander a bit. New areas have opened up, old ones have been filled in with sidequests, and I've finally faced my first non-human enemies since Lothering. It also helps that I've met Merrill, a companion who, refreshingly, doesn't have a cringeworthy introduction scene.

I've also become quite enamored of some of the lesser-known design choices. For example:
  • Stores are opened by clicking an object rather than going through a repetitive merchant conversation.
  • Loot is organized in a way that makes it easy to ignore stuff you don't need.
  • Clicking on books launches a popup with the book text, so you don't have to hunt through your inventory or, in the case of Origins, open the Codex.
  • The world map, in addition to being gorgeous, allows you to switch to nighttime locations - an elegant solution to issues raised by having an actual day/night cycle.
Those buttons in the lower-right corner allow you to switch between day, night, and wilderness.
One thing that can no longer go unmentioned: This game is incredibly easy on Normal. I really don't feel like I'm doing anything special in combat, and yet I have not had to reload yet. In fact, I think only two characters have fallen in battle. I could up the difficulty, but eh... I think I'll just continue to breeze through it for the time being.

I'm still struggling with the writing and the dialogue wheel - and most of all, with Hawke's tendency to speak without any direction from me at all. Still, I'm actually enjoying the game now, which is a new and very welcome development.