Nervousness, that is what I felt before playing the sequel demo to one of my favourite RPG's in years. I should note, It also doesn't help that I am currently playing Divinity 2 – The Dragon Knight Saga. Going from a difficult RPG heavy game to this is quite a stark contrast. I played the Demo on both the PC and PS3 platforms.
There is a massive case of style and effect with this sequel, DA:O was a RPG with Oldschool and in-depth sensibilities set in a familiar medieval background filled with lively and likeable characters. The demo thrust us upon an Alien landscape far removed from the original and it seems like a shallow imitation of itself. It might be a good game in its own right but it isn't the same world DA:O created.
The first issue I have is just the feel of the game.
The Style and grittiness of DA:O has been completely removed and replaced with nice clean edges, completely devoid of character. Graphically the game looks pretty decent, though where are all the details? Everything looks so plain and unrealistic. The UI contributes to this offering almost a psuedo scifi console interface. The game menus do not seem like part of the game at all. Its obvious Dragon Age 2 has been optimised for TV viewing with PC centric gaming an afterthought.
The dialogue choices are just boringly implemented. People still like to read Bioware! The cutscenes were also missing some of character found in the first game, I ended up skipping a few of them.
The voice acting whilst good, also adds to the style differences. The Demo is primarily American voice acted with some forced European accents on display, I am not sure what the difference really is but characters seem devoid of emotion compared to the original. Returning characters are a welcome bonus though.
The combat system is similar in how it plays out in DA:O without the tactical aspect you could enjoy in the bigger battles. The PC centric mouse control system is too slow to play realtime in an enjoyable fashion so I found myself fighting via the keyboard and spamming keys 1 -8.
Combat is faster with less noticeable meaningful differences between classes, from what I could tell from the demo, animations seem less fluid and very cartoony.
The combat on the demo's normal difficulty is also laughably easy. Reminiscent of the console game Summoner.
In DA:O I could taunt a crowd of enemies with my tank, with their backs turned I could then flank and backstab with the rogue. Now its just click the backstab icon. Awesome. (sarcasm) Blindside is more the same flanking technique that was calculated in DA:O for all party members regardless of class, having only the rogue able to use this passive skill without critical chance of a backstab changes the gameplay a lot and removes a significant amount of gaming satisfaction.
There was no indication of pre-emptive massive combat in the demo as fights appeared more scripted – again most likely due to the streamlining Bioware was talking about.
I would be interested to see how a massive fight will play out with large mobs and Dragons. The previous game allowed you to move characters to tiered vantage points via use of the isometric view. Battlefields could be huge. This just wouldn't work with the sequel.
Whilst DA2 is a decent console game, as a follow up the the PC version of Dragon Age Origins, it fails on all fronts. I also understand it is only a demo, though it hasn't enticed me to ever buy the full game, especially on the PC platform.
Unfortunately this demo has almost killed the DA franchise for me, hurtful considering the praise I gave the first game. I really tried desperately hard to enjoy the Dragon Age 2 Demo, especially after investing so much time in the original. The problem is certain RPG elements I love have been stripped away and the Style of the Dragon Age universe has been ripped apart and replaced with the colour purple.
Bioware Marketing Director Interview:
- DA:O had painstaking detail for no reason, We removed books and other details as no one paid attention to them.
- Densely populated play areas are distracting.
- Inspiration from Japanese films...
- We removed top down view because it ruined the fidelity of the game....
- We made every area look brown and purple so that the game has a consistent look and identity.