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Forums > Submission Feedback > Suskie's Dragon Age 2 review

This thread is in response to a review for Dragon Age 2 on the Xbox 360. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: March 24, 2011 (12:51 PM)
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Another review I read said the same thing about the repeated environments as you did. To bad that has to happen. I suppose I would much rather have a bit shorter game than one padded with repeats.

Your review was very good but I never (OMG) played Mass Effect so some of those references were lost on me but your futher explanations cleared up most of that.


Age is a condition not a state of mind.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: March 24, 2011 (02:37 PM)
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hehe. Great summary. It's rare that I completely agree with just about everything you say, so I had to say that. From what I've played.. not sure I like the way the game forces all the branching to a close by the end of each segment.. that really is my biggest problem with bioware nowadays. That you don't think the choices you make stick with you, even if they are harrowing and significant when they take place, and so on..

But it was a good review too. Like the three major parts, and how they fit together.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: March 24, 2011 (02:52 PM)
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Thanks. Yeah, I really didn't have anything new to say about this game so anyone who's been keeping up with Dragon Age II will probably already have heard what I've said here. Still, from me, given my disappointment... it needed to be said.

Oh, and Fleinn, I'd definitely say Dragon Age II fits into the model you've been using for recent BioWare games, which is to say, it's full of remarkable details but amounts to nothing.

Edit: By the way, Fleinn, have you finished the game? Without spoiling anything, they make a lot of rather half-hearted attempts to tie everything together. Like, the final boss's sword is made out of the lyrium idol you find in the Deep Roads. Silly stuff like that.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: jerec
Posted: March 24, 2011 (03:27 PM)
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" Dragon Age II is a lazily designed game with a mediocre story that's ultimately saved by its electrifying combat. So basically, it's this year's Final Fantasy XIII. Yeah, I went there. "

Oh no you di'int!


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: March 24, 2011 (03:36 PM)
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It even had the same release date give or take one day.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: jerec
Posted: March 24, 2011 (03:38 PM)
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As the weeks go by I am more and more glad I didn't rush out to buy this on day 1.


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: March 24, 2011 (03:31 PM)
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Lyrium overdose monster... aiai lol.. No, I got to play it for a day.. not sure if I will finish it.. :/ Like you say.. it's difficult to.. *wave* .. it's not a bad game, it's just that it seems they wanted to write some sort of fantasy fable instead of a game or something.. I don't know..

It sort of feels like one of those reboots of an old anime series, I guess. It's familiar, it's the same place, new people. But it's shaving things too thin, maybe.. Still, not sure if I should have an opinion on the game yet.. Am I having completely wrong expectations, maybe..? Did they succeed at something I don't see?


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer
Posted: March 24, 2011 (03:53 PM)
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Great review, Mike. I liked how it sounded like a totally positive review, then gave us the big, ugly "but". I haven't been in any hurry to pick this game up, and I think I will be waiting for a discounted price.

Then again, I still have to finish the first one.


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: March 24, 2011 (04:50 PM)
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Thanks all. Yeah, I picked up DA2 on day one because I figured it would be an improvement over the first game (the demo certainly indicated so), so I was immensely disappointed. If you haven't picked up the game yet, you're lucky that you've gotten the warning that I never had.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: jerec
Posted: July 20, 2011 (06:54 AM)
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Dropped to half price so I picked it up. Actually enjoying it so far. Also, the elf is voiced by Eve Myles. She is never leaving my party. That's so awesome.


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: threetimes
Posted: July 20, 2011 (01:18 PM)
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I've never played a Dragon Age game or any Bioware one for that matter, so I was pretty lost reading this review with all the references to Mass Effect. I didn't really understand how the combat worked - or how the game is structured: is it just a mission based game? Sorry, but I ended the review without a clear picture of the game.

Maybe you'd expect people to know what you're talking about so my comments are not relevant. I suppose that's an issue though, what assumptions are made about the audience.


Don't panic!


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Author: Suskie
Posted: July 20, 2011 (02:34 PM)
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Dragon Age 2 does not belong to an obscure franchise. It's the sequel to a very prolific developer's most successful game of all time, and it was produced by one of the video game industry's largest, oldest and most iconic publishers. I have also reviewed the Xbox 360 version of a game whose predecessor was also available on Xbox 360. So yes, I expect readers to come into this review with at least a modest level of familiarity with the subject matter, and that sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

If I reviewed Iron Man 2, I wouldn't waste copious amounts of space recapping who Tony Stark is, or what inspired him to become a superhero, or how he made his suit, or who he fought in the first movie. That's what the first movie exists for, and, to a degree, the many reviews of it. If I were to spend a significant portion of this review retreading the basics of the Dragon Age universe for fear of alienating non-fans, then what I would really be doing is alienating the fans themselves, who played the first game and want to know how the sequel differs from its predecessor. That's how I review sequels. I can't treat them as standalone games, because they aren't.

I remember that Pikmin 2 begins by forcing players through a massive tutorial sequence, 95% of which simply recaps basic stuff that anyone who'd played the first game already knew instinctively. It was infuriating. It's bizarre logic, to me at least, for a series newcomer not to start at the beginning of said series, especially one that places so much emphasis on story. If a review of the first Dragon Age game fails to adequately convey the basics of the world and gameplay to those unfamiliar with the territory, then that review has failed. But I went into Dragon Age II with the proper level of homework done, and I expect the same of anyone who's looking into it. If you're interested in the Dragon Age games, then start with the first one.

As for the Mass Effect and BioWare references... hmm... I guess that's another instance where I expect readers to at least be somewhat familiar with the territory. Anyone who's even remotely interested in Western RPGs has probably played at least one or two BioWare games, and should be well aware that BioWare is notorious for employing a very similar formula in all of their titles.

And the reason the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises have been so heavily compared is because they've both followed a strikingly similar pattern. Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect are both popular and beloved for their depth and excellent writing, yet they're also flawed on technical levels and unwelcoming to casual types, leading small but outspoken groups of gamers to despise them. Their sequels are shinier, noticeably streamlined products that were meant to expand their franchises' audiences but potentially alienated hardcore fans. Many people disliked Mass Effect 2 for that reason; I didn't, and one of the messages I was trying to get across in reviewing DA2 was that the reason we had it good with ME2 is because this is how poorly it could have turned out.

I know you're unfamiliar with all of this. But if you've never played a BioWare game, then I'm making the (fair) assumption that you're not interested in Western RPGs, or at the very least dreadfully out of touch with current ones, in which case, why are you reading a review of one? And if you are looking to give BioWare titles a run, then the message you should take from all of this is that Dragon Age II is absolutely not the place to start.

Edit: Jerec, I sympathize with you. Merrill was the one I romanced.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: threetimes
Posted: July 20, 2011 (05:24 PM)
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Well, I guess reading or commenting on reviews of games or genres I haven't played is something I'd better avoid in the future.


Don't panic!


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Author: jerec
Posted: July 21, 2011 (01:16 AM)
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Why the sympathy? I don't mind if I get to have sloppy seconds after you've done Merrill. >_>

Anyway thanks to all the reviews, I knew what kind of game this was, and knew exactly what to expect. So I'm not in anyway disappointed with it.


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: WilltheGreat
Posted: July 21, 2011 (03:00 AM)
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Well, I guess reading or commenting on reviews of games or genres I haven't played is something I'd better avoid in the future.

Butthurt much?


"Either, sir, you're an ass or masquerading as one."
- Nero Wolfe


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Author: threetimes
Posted: July 21, 2011 (10:25 AM)
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Part of the response was, why am I reading a review about a game from a genre that I'm unfamiliar with. So yes, the implication from that was - you're not qualified to comment.

Of course I've heard a lot about these games, so I was interested to get an informed perspective on one of them. I acknowledged I might not be the target audience for the review.


Don't panic!


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: July 21, 2011 (10:36 AM)
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At the risk of exacerbating the issue, I would say that you shouldn't really feel offended at all, threetimes. What I got from Suskie's comments was more the idea that it's not as good an idea to read reviews of sequels if you haven't read reviews of the original game first, because the originals usually cover all the bases. In fact, I agree with Suskie's approach to reviewing sequels, and use it myself whenever I can. However, that doesn't mean I'd feel wrong to comment on a review of a game I've never played before. At least, not when it's the first in the series (of course, there are always exceptions...). The whole point of reviews (ideally, anyway) is to determine whether said game we've never played before would actually appeal to us, after all. But, I do feel that when discussing games we're completely unfamiliar with, it may be better to start at the beginning, if indeed we're dealing with titles in a series.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: Suskie
Posted: July 21, 2011 (01:16 PM)
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I'm not saying you're unqualified to comment, Threetimes. But your comment said that there was an issue regarding what assumptions are made about the audience, and I'm saying that, from my perspective, no there isn't. This is how I review sequels, and this is how I will continue to review them.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: threetimes
Posted: July 23, 2011 (10:45 AM)
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I had no expectation that you would do otherwise.

However, I disagree with you and wolfqueen. Starting at the beginning of a series is not always appropriate. Would you suggest that to people who'd never played a Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest or a Suikoden game? Well, maybe you might for Suikoden, but you see my point.

Likewise, the idea I should read a review of the first game in a series before reading one of the next in line makes no sense to me. I wouldn't expect the first review to "cover all bases" and read a review of (for example) Atelier Iris 1 before reading one of Atelier Iris 2 or 3. I'd read the review of the game I was interested in playing.


Don't panic!


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Author: Suskie
Posted: July 23, 2011 (11:22 AM)
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It varies from game to game, obviously. I'm afraid I'm not well-versed in Dragon Quest or Suikoden so I can't comment on either of those, but the Final Fantasy games are not sequels in the traditional sense; they're standalone games that happen to share some of the same terminology. In terms of a series, they're the polar opposite of BioWare's recent games. Both Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 2 allow you to import your save file from the previous game, so that the choices you've made carry over into the sequels. I don't think I mentioned that in my DA2 review because it doesn't have an enormous impact on the story (unlike in ME2, where it's one of the big draws), but that should give you an example of how close-knit games in BioWare's franchises are becoming.

There are a lot of challenges that come with reviewing video games. One is compressing your often complicated feelings toward a game into a concise piece of writing that holds your readers' interest without rambling. Another is determining the review's target audience and gauging just what, exactly, they want to know. Believe me, as someone for whom writing overlong reviews is frequently a problem, I wish I could ramble on and on and cover all the bases, but I can't. I was very let down by DA2 on a number of levels as a fan of Dragon Age, BioWare and Western RPGs in general, and I had to approach the review from that perspective and speak to fellow fans who would have the same expectations towards DA2, because they comprise the majority of my audience here.

I don't blame you for being interested in DA2 and jumping in at the wrong spot, but ideally, there should have been enough in the review to indicate that neither the review nor the game was intended for you. Dragon Age isn't a series with a vast, winding library. Checking out one game before reading into DA2 isn't what I consider a tall order.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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