The running animation is a bit ... awkward I think, thatís down to personal preference though and itís not going to mar the game or make me lower the score. The rest of the animations are great and the new combat system makes use of some incredibly dynamic actions that fit the overall ethos of Dragon Age 2ís: think like a general, fight like a Spartan mission statement. Thereís a brutal joy to watching a warrior do a mighty blow and sail through the air like Stelios in 300. The character interaction animations are also something thatís been improved, facial ticks and emotion are plain to see on the faces now and the lip synch is pretty damn good.Physics
Some of the spells pull your enemies about, you can be knocked down, they can be knocked down and blows feel like they have some weight behind them when an enemy flies apart. Stone Fist (a spell) feels particularly satisfying in that regard when it hits a bad guy and knocks them down a flight of stairs. AI
The AI is suitably improved and your NPC companions have various tactics you can set up, or you can leave them at default and pretty much play the game as an action game if you so desire. Again youíll be missing out if you do that though, since youíll get far more depth out of the combat system if you make sure your groupís assigned role is correct for what you want them to do. The enemy AI is also pretty decent, mages will use their magic intelligently and rogues dance around the battlefield, teleporting and backstabbing weaker party members or even picking on the biggest threat of the group first.Sound
Bioware have always had great sound design and thereís no difference here in Dragon Age 2. The combat sounds are fantastic; the ambient and spot sounds are great. With the City of Kirkwall changing come day or night and the various interior locations are full of ambient noise and life. Top notch stuff.Music
Inon Zur, what more can I say. I really do like the soundtrack to Dragon Age 2, it evokes the theme of the game perfectly and whilst I really want the music that Inon did for the Destiny trailer I can say that heís done a great job with Dragon Age 2 and Iíve got no complaints at all. The music supports the environment perfectly and swells and ebbs are combat kicks off, giving a stirring background to blades and spells.Dialogue and Voice
Hawke has a voice, male or female, and theyíre pretty decent voice actors at that. The script is well written and the dedicated sarcasm option is one Iím going to use for my male Hawke warrior with a second playthrough. The star of the show goes to Varric though, who is about the best Dragon Age NPC to date. Heís brought to life in a smooth talking con-man kind of way by the actor and they have done a wonderful job on making him likeable and dynamic, heís my favourite NPC so far. The rest of the performances are great, even the minor characters have a nice range of accents and whist some are very over the top British; I donít mind that at all.Summary
Here you are if youíve skipped to the end of the review, or youíre just interested in general. Dragon Age 2 isnít a perfect game but it builds on what Dragon Age began and does so with a high level of polish and approaches the genre differently to the first game. It isnít spoilt for the changes I donít think and thereís a huge RPG with a lot of depth right here and ready for you to sink your teeth into. The combat system is a great addition and it provides the right mix of outright action and tactics, sacrificing none of Dragon Ageís depth if you take the time to experiment with it.
You can also play on the hardest difficulty if you think the gameís too easy, then youíll never spend another moment out of the pause menu and youíll be back in Dragon Age heaven.
Thatís about it for now, have fun with the game and enjoy the story. Bioware might not win GotY 2011 with this (since Mass Effect 3 is coming), but they have certainly done a damn fine job on the game putting to rest any fears that I might have had about it since the demo. It isnít Dragon Age, but frankly it doesnít need to be since itís its own animal and thatís the one thing you have to remember. There are a few minor niggles with it, such as the repeated locations and a few issues with object interaction in terms of selecting crates and so on to loot...itís all minor though...