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It seems there's been a mixed reaction to Dragon Age II. As I progress through the first game, and from playing the demo and watching early walkthrough footage on video sharing sites from its sequel, there has been some immediate changes. Is the classic idea of an RPG becoming, well, a classic idea? Or has the term 'RPG' been deemed archaic? Or maybe are we redefining what is in an RPG?
Unfair probably and some may seem as cowardly to write about a game I haven't played. But in this day and age, with the helpfulness of the Internet, there's no need for it. Reviews will be pouring in en masse today, and this post is based off the collection of corny jokes and nit-pickings of every review I come across. I will play the game, eventually; probably steal it off a friend or something. Renting it seems unjust, as a week with a game that has so many levels is hardly enough time.
Right from the start, there is a big change. In the classic RPG motif, we get to choose the identity of our character, from name to class to description, and even the background. Dragon Age II abandons that ideal, however, and simply makes us pick an established character. Disconcerting of course, but in the short run makes sense since the main character is voice-acted. In Origins he/she wasn't, so having any name was appropriate. It'd be stupid to continuously have your character called another name, wouldn't it? It may sound like I am defending what Bioware has done here; in fact, I am just putting it into perspective. I would rather have a character voice-acted to give the dialogue more weight compared to a voiceless hero with whom dialogue seems unnatural. Consequently, the cost of having a voice-acted adventurer is a water-downed dialogue system. In Origins, several options were given to the player in every scenario. But now it behaves more like Mass Effect, where three options are given each leading to a paragon, neutral, or renegade outcome. This in itself is far from bad; were it the case that Dragon Age II was actually the first game, people wouldn't be complaining. It would just be Mass Effect set in a fantasy world. It's a simpler system, but works effectively enough to not hinder the experience.
I apologize for going on about the dialogue system. Many a review pinned that as the most aggravating change, whereas I see it as welcoming. Back to establishing your character. A predetermined character may put some people off and I understand that; part of the allure of an RPG game is defining your character, and feeling the consequences of your actions. Bioware might not be throwing that idea out the window. Maybe the developer wants it this way, to put more emphasis on the action side of things. An action-RPG is plausible, and will deter some people from buying the game and rightfully so; a lot of reviewers condemned the game for backing down from its pre-generational brethren Baldur's Gate I and II. In my experience with Origins, combat was rather difficult to get comfortable with, and even playing on the easiest mode not as a mage I still found myself dying over and over again. Could be my negligence to pay attention to the finer details of combat, and surely it was; but this was often a complain with the battle system of Origins and Bioware wanted to make its sequel more accessible. As I said, I welcome such a change, and it made me strongly consider buying the second game.
Part 2 as I watch more footage. Expect it soon!