Sunday, June 19, 2011


....Or is it? Today, we'll decide.

Continuing where we left off: Mass Effect instituted a "wheel" system for its dialogue/moral alignment, but in doing so, made the choices somewhat binary. So, in Dragon Age II, we have a different situation. It follows the wheel format, yes, but with a difference:

An icon now appears by your selection. There's a plant or an angel sign to signify diplomatic answers, a diamond (charming) and a mask (joking) for neutral (which is an improvement over neutral = bland that they went for in previous games, though it's still the option that's most punished, by not allowing any rivalry or friendship points in most situations), and a fist or a hammer and gavel for aggressive choices. In a way, then, it's dumbing choices even further. It's not just organized by space anymore; now, you can be entirely illiterate and judge by the color of the icon. The saving grace of this option is that occasionally, there is an actual set of choices, and they're sometimes even NOT arranged in an easy good-neutral-evil pattern--you have to actually judge the outcomes of your action yourself. What a radical concept.

It seems that a lot of the game's negative sides require saving graces, and a lot of the "bonus" features cause their own headaches. Let's sum up the plus and minus: Plus: good dialogue system. Good choice system. Good expanded world. Good voice acting, for the most part.
Minus: Streamlined choices. The combat. The repetition of the same, narrow areas, over and over again (I didn't even talk about this one, but it's a big problem).

Bottom line: I enjoyed Dragon Age II. The combat system is so broken that playing on anything but easy is frustrating, and playing on easy is tedious. But as for the rest of the game--a lot of what you get out of it depends on what you put in. If you do every sidequest, every optional mission, then further choices and options spring out of them. If you don't take those chances when they appear, they're never coming back. But that's the game's fault, not the player's fault--you shouldn't have to dig really, really deep to find out a game's best. So let's hope that the next game in the franchise (Dragon Age III? Mass Effect 3?) learns from these mistakes. Because if it doesn't, I imagine what we'll get is Dragon Age III: the First Person Shooter with A Color Coded Wheel--Now without Words!

Later Days.

PS. Probably not going to do the week long feature for a long, long time, because blogging every day is actually very time-consuming and tedious. Who knew?

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