WARNING: This article was written as I thought of things to say. As a result, the flow and structure are barely intact. Read at your own risk if you are a journalist or an English major.
So I popped in my PS3 copy of Dragon Age 2 last night and got down to business. Almost immediately I had gripes about load times and graphical choppiness. At the opening menu, it took forever to connect to the DA servers, and I was unable to do anything whilst waiting. The first time I took control of my character (in a combat tutorial), I marveled at how crappy it looked. Bland textures, minimal shading, and so many angular lines in the environment that I felt like I was in a really impressive PC game from 1996. Fortunately this changed shortly afterward, but talk about crappy first impressions. Come on Bioware, you can do better than that.
When I got to the character customization screen, again I sat for so long waiting for it to load that I thought maybe my disc was defective. However, once I was in control again, the creation system was just robust enough for me. Plenty of options and I didn’t have to use 12 sliders to decide the depth of my cheekbones (I’m looking at you Bethesda).
Once I really started getting into the start of the game, most of these gripes went away in a wash of enjoyment. I’m invested in the story already, and I don’t even know what the plot is. I LOVE my character, unlike my previous character in DA:O, the broken elven blackfaced Ted Dansen. This new guy (with my alterations) would make Zeus his bitch. I chose to play a mage again, in the hopes that I’d have some of the same spell and specialization combinations that made me an unstoppable typhoon of pain in the first game. I was not disappointed. Seriously guys. Mages. Forget what you thought you knew about them. I can teach you how to be the most devastating force in all of Thedas.
As I mentioned before, there is a bit of graphical chop sometimes when the camera is panning around an area while things are happening. I kind of doubt I’d have the same problem if I bought it on PC, but I’m not sure. This is not something new, though, so I wasn’t surprised. Bioware games are plagued by this issue. That aside, the facial expressions and lip syncing are great, the character models in general are good, and most importantly, the combat is fun.
I look like a complete badass twirling my staff around and shooting fireballs at people and whatnot. Remember Kilik from Soul Calibur? I’m him if his staff could set people ablaze too. Well, at least I FEEL like I’m that cool. Many of the UI mainstays from the first are back to give a familiar feel to those of us who played the original. The game felt natural to play when I first picked it up, as I already knew how everything worked. Also, if you have a saved game from DA:Origins, you can import all your choices and whatnot into this game, effectively changing your experience. I thought that was neato.
I won’t go into many of the other things I want to talk about, simply because I’d be spoiling stuff for people who haven’t picked it up yet. But after one evening of play (about 5 hours), I’m pleased as punch.