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Written by Starfox   
Sunday, 24 April 2011 02:28
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Dragon Age 2: Rise To Power
Don't shoot the story...
Don't talk to me unless I want t
Don't hurt me... much
I'm Hi-Tech
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Dragon Age 2: Rise To Power


Don't hurt me... much


The combat gameplay is oddly enough the part of the game for which I have mixed but good feeling except for one or two specific complaint. That's a pretty unusual fact for a Bioware game where generally the storyline is much more brilliant than the gameplay. Sure despite the claimed fact that difficulty was decreased compared to the insanity that was DA:O, it is still challenging at times, especially during some of the boss fights. However, the combat dynamic itself is much more fun that it was especially for classes like mage, or a 2 handed warrior.


As for the complaints, the biggest one would be the constant and often ridiculous enemy spawning. Most fights actually go that way: you enter a room with enemies, you fight and defeat them then another wave comes down – and when I say “comes down” I mean literally, sometimes they just fall from the roof – you defeat them again then a third wave arrives... And so on. In any case you may expect a minimum of 3 up to 4 or 5 waves. In general the enemies spawn around you (which would effectively make of friendly-fire an utter pain in the ass if it was implemented on all levels of difficulty like it was in DA:O). Where it becomes really ridiculous is when you see the enemy spawning right under your nose out of thin air.


All in all the combat is much more dynamic than DA:O, and less tactical even though the use of tactics is still enforced. Some will have hard time to get over the lack of any “top-down” tactical view though it's not my case as even in DA:O I barely used this view at all.


However there's for me a definitive no go as far as gameplay is concerned. Enemies that become invincible while using some abilities. Let's say, you're targeting a rogue and go for a backstab. But the rogue at this same moment activate stealth. No matter, your strike connects before he disappear... but with no result at all. Visually the guy is still there. Visually your blades are right through him but the game decides that the guy was already in stealth when your hit occurred, even if he was still visible on the screen, denying any damage done by your attack. That goes for other enemies as well, notably enemy casters, rage demons... pretty much every enemy that has the ability to go out of view at some point. It's confusing and unnerving. Being unable to target and hit an enemy that is concealed is normal... Being unable to hit an enemy just because an animation is playing is confusing and unnerving especially because your spell/ability is lost for nothing.


And the traps... What about the traps. There are traps in the game (like there was in DA:O) but the amusing thing is that most of the time you cannot even detect them. If your character is a rogue your chances of detecting a trap before stepping on it are slightly better. The trap detection distance has been so much reduced that even when you have a rogue in your party if he/she is not in point he/she will fail to detect most of the traps before you step on them. That's certainly an amusing trick especially because one of the perks of being a rogue or of having a rogue in your party is being able to detect traps.


What's in my backpack?


As far the character progression goes, you still have full control over the attributes already present in the first game as well as your own inventory and to a lesser extent to the inventory of your companions.


The way the attributes influence the game has been somewhat modified. For example the percentage of critical chance is no more determined by the weapon used but by the dexterity attribute. Rogues are especially favored with the new attribute distribution as their two main attributes (dexterity for the amount of basic damage/attack and cunning to disarm trap and open locks) are also used to calculate critical chances, critical damages and defense. The end result is that rogues represent the class the most likely to deal quickly the most critical hits with the most extended damage while having a very decent defense while other classes need to distribute some points in those attributes that are not their favored ones hence sacrificing some points that would go to their favored attributes otherwise. In the other hand, warriors are favored as tanks as their main attribute (strength) beside determining the basic damage done also serves to calculate the chances to ignore or reduce some disabling effects like knock back or stun.


Although you remain in control of the whole inventory for your own character, the biggest twist about your party management is certainly the fact that you can't anymore change your companions outfits. These ones are defined for each companion  à la Mass Effect 2 and evolve with them the only customize option you have being to find (mostly buy) upgrades for each companion armor. Those upgrades cannot be fitted to any companion, each of them is specifically tailored for one companion. This was supposed to allow each companion to have his/her own defined style tailored to his/her own personality so in fact they were supposed to increase the personality impact of each companion. Unfortunately, companion personalities are not all about how they look. To put it simply, the personalities of your companions in DA:O were more marked despite the fact that they could all be dressed in the same standard armor.


Dragon Age 2: Rise To Power


Recycling is good... for the environment


I had the obviously wrong idea that Bioware definitely abandoned area recycling after the first Mass Effect. As a matter of fact in both Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origin it was impossible to find a new area that looked exactly like one you already explored before. Sadly this is no longer true in Dragon Age 2 where recycled areas make their big comeback, at least as far a side-quests location are concerned.


In all, there's no more than 2 basic cave designs, 2 mansion interior designs, 2 Deep Roads designs, a couple of outside area designs and you spend your time exploring those. To make the thing a bit more intriguing, Bioware changed the entry points, the furniture, in some cases the lighting and open or close some door/passages in an attempt to trick us into thinking that it is not the exact same area we already explored a gazillion times. Unfortunately, that doesn't work. The feeling of dejà vu is already there the first time you go to explore a second cave that is supposed to be distinct from the first one you explored previously but however looks amazingly similar and it only gets worse after that.


Recycling may be good for the environment but definitely not for games.


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