PS3 Previews: Dragon Age II Preview

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Dragon Age II Preview

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Scheduled release date:

March 8, 2011

Publisher:

EA

Developer:

BioWare

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

RPG

Dragon Age: Origins is one of our favorite RPGs of the generation. Although it had a few problems, it was classic BioWare fare: deep, satisfying, and challenging. Now, one might argue that because this premier role-playing developer opted to include a more action-oriented mechanic in Dragon Age II, they “sold out” by catering to the masses. The hardcore purist will initially dislike this, “press X and immediately attack” action-based style, and probably assume we’ve lost some of that immense depth and robustness. I admit this is what I first thought when I heard the details. But after playing the excellent demo, one thing becomes abundantly clear- while Dragon Age II is indeed faster paced, more streamlined and, in some sense, more accessible, this is still every ounce an RPG. And by the way, when’s the last time you played a demo that took a solid hour to complete?

At the start, you will choose one of three classes: Warrior, Rogue, or Mage. Once again, the role-playing aficionado within me saw this and went, “oh no…” But although there are only three classes, there’s a huge amount of character advancement and customization beneath the surface; for further proof, check out the full list of talents, skills and spells. The demo won’t let you alter your character’s appearance (but you can see the grayed-out options) and you can’t change your equipment. But you can see how looting corpses is the same as ever and as soon as you jump into the stats and abilities for each character – which can be upgraded and learned in this play sample – you’ll realize BioWare sacrificed nothing. We also get a glimpse of a huge city and some nicely detailed enemies and environments. Yes, you’re looking at a definite graphical upgrade.

Technically, it’s just that much better, although the transitions between gameplay and cut-scene were always on the brink of freezing, and the game even had to pause to load during one of those cut-scenes. I’m hoping this is unique to the demo, though. As I mentioned before, the gameplay will be familiar to Origins fans, with that action-oriented exception of instant attack I mentioned earlier. Your spells and skills still need recovery time, you have your radial menu that lets you pause combat, you can switch between your party members with R1 and L1, the R2 button lets you choose from an additional set of equipped abilities, and survival is once again paramount. We also have the return of Tactics; this is where you issue commands for ally AI and as the fans will tell you, it’s crucial. So combine all this together, and you’ve got a hardcore RPG that simply moves faster and looks better. As a Mage, I really liked the fact that I could pause combat to aim a spell or choose an ally to help.

See, if you can’t pause and take an overview of the battle and have full control over your party members, I don’t consider it much of an RPG. But Dragon Age II really seems to have it all. This demo also gives you a peek at what should be a fantastic storyline, and it’ll be interesting to see how the plot progresses. Oh, and I guess I’ll mention that a certain lady character in the second part of the demo will drop some sexual innuendo…even if you chose to be a female heroine. And maybe it’s just me, but it seems the bust sizes have increased drastically since Origins. Or maybe it’s just the characters I saw… But anyway, this demo convinced me that DAII is a sequel I desperately need, and the final product should solidify BioWare as the best RPG developer of the generation. Sorry, Square-Enix, but it’s true.

P.S. You better download the demo...I want that extra money and experience, damnit.

2/22/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (50 posts)

Shiva369
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 @ 11:50:52 PM
Reply

Very nice indeed. BioWare's really delivering the goods. DA:O, ME2, DAII, ME3 coming along...nothin' but goodness.

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Douchebaguette
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 7:02:46 AM

Let's not forget Mass Effect 1. I've never been so immersed in a game since FFVII. And the ride continues.

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xenris
Thursday, February 24, 2011 @ 10:13:50 AM

I agree douche, I played ME1 8 times in a row for the 360 and twice for the PC. ME2 was decent but I think other than the combat and character depth a step back in terms of RPG content. I am looking forward to ME3 though as I have 100% ME2 with 2 files, should make for some fun conclusions.

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Oxvial
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 12:04:44 AM
Reply

Didn't like the new combat =/, and is me or the graphs looks worse?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 12:39:03 AM

It's definitely you.

Origins is horrid compared to DAII.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 2/23/2011 12:39:27 AM

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:31:54 AM

Actually I understand what he's saying, I haven't played the demo yet, but as soon as I saw the gameplay from that video I was a little stunned.

It looks as though the graphics are brighter and sharper for sure, but everything is smooth. It's as if they took out all the texture. First thing I thought when I saw it was that now the graphics look more like World of Warcraft, at least as far as game play goes.

I'm a little disappointed, trading textures for whatever reason seems a little sad to me.

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Oxvial
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 7:15:48 AM

I think you hit the nail with the WoW reference this remind me a lot of dat game.

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Chelsea United
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 8:04:01 AM

People just looooove comparing graphics of any game to WOW if they don't like it. What's with that? It's like it's become the 'thing' to do these days...

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SirLoin of Beef
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 8:46:52 AM

From what I've seen in the demo, the graphics are nothing like World of Warcraft.

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 9:48:06 AM

I never said it was a bad thing, but it takes the same graphical design. The demo looks as if you are a human warrior in outlands on World of Warcraft. The color scheme is the same, the smooth, almost texture free look.

It has a very cell shaded look to it.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 10:24:16 AM

You're only looking at one barren landscape. There's not going to be much to it, regardless of graphical style.

Look at the detail of enemies and of the animations and effects. It's much better. Things have been smoothed out, but that's for the sake of quality.

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 11:29:26 AM

I know what you mean, I'm not saying that it's not improved, I just wish they hadn't removed the texture to achieve it.

It's just that when you look at the characters there is no visual depth to their clothing, only way to tell where the skin ends and the clothing begins is because they are different colors.

I know that was one landscape, but the city was very smooth as well. I guess in all honesty I'm just a fan of good texturing and they gave up those textures to go with a different art style. It's not like I hate it or anything, I just don't prefer this particular art style.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:30:22 PM

Probably because WoW is by its very nature outdated but still as popular as oxygen.

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 12:05:18 AM
Reply

Haha! Excellent. I will definitely check out the demo. The screen tearing and the frame skipping of the first Dragon Age kind of turned me off to it but it sounds like DAII is a definite upgrade.

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FM23
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 12:46:19 AM
Reply

Looks good...will most likely purchase this...after ME2, Bioware seems to look like a developer I can get with

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___________
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:21:43 AM
Reply

cant wait for this.
dunno why but ive suddenly developed a urge for a old styled adventure game.
i wont be buying it though, still miffed at bioware for deleting my 40 hour ME 2 save file!

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:33:19 AM

You can't wait for it, but you won't be buying it? What exactly is it you can't wait for?

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Veitsknight
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 7:38:36 AM

kraygen, don't bother. He NEVER makes sense.

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___________
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 8:03:20 AM

since when is buying a game the only way to play it?
theres this great new invention called the video store, you should try it out one day!

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 9:49:39 AM

pardon my confusion, but around here there are no video stores, they've all gone out of business and the way you worded it didn't sound like you planned to rent it, more like you had some devious plot to steal it or something.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 10:45:58 AM

lol, hehe that was some good morning humor for me =p

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:31:34 PM

Three words: Real Time Fail.

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:35:39 AM
Reply

I have downloaded the demo, but not installed it yet, from what I saw in the video it looked like they were playing on computer, can't wait to see what the ps3 graphics look like.

As I commented above it looked a little too much like WoW for my taste. Kinda would have preferred the gritty texture graphics to the smooth and glossy look. Maybe it's just the video, guess I'll see when I play the demo.

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 6:27:41 AM

First off, big fan of DA:O, bought and read the books before the game, pre-ordered, played for around 160-165 hours, got the platinum trophy.

I have just been playing the demo and am surprised by Ben's preview. Here's what I saw.

Graphics: CGI and cut scenes have more detail and character models. However there is plenty of hitching, lagging, snagging, and skipping during all aspects of the demo, not to mention that it sometimes loads mid cut scene. Also even though the cgi and cut scenes have improved, the gameplay now is almost texture free and looks like a really good blood gushing version of World of Warcraft.

Loading: The load times are terrible, played twice so far and both times when it loaded the character creator it took between 3-5 minutes. As I said before sometimes it loads mid cut scene and don't die and choose retry, it will be "loading" until the end of time. I gave it 15 minutes at which point I just started the demo over. Yes I died on my first try.

Gameplay: Wow, what a change. Essentially it has been reduced to a hack n' slash with special abilities. Yes you can L2 to pause mid fight, but other than giving your teammates 1 command a piece there is nothing to be done, no queue in which to put commands and if their special ability was used, you can only tell them to take a potion or move. It may still have plenty of rpg elements, and it does, but it is a X mashing hack n' slash.

I'm disappointed, the graphics in their new state don't bother me, but the game seems even more hallway-ish than the first one, the gameplay has taken a drastic hit to the groin, and the glitches abound.

Oh and apparently the guys at bioware are fans of Jersey shore, if you hit the attack button without an opponent in front of you, your character throws up a hearty fist pump. Well Bioware, all I can say is, What is up my dude? You broke one of my favorite games. My thumb is begging for a vacation.

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Veitsknight
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 7:45:01 AM

The PC version is still a point and click :D

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 9:51:22 AM

Then my question about the pc version is, do you have to click every time you want to attack, because on the ps3 version there is no queue, unless you count 1 ability a queue.

Please explain more about the pc version, because I'm not happy with the X spamming.

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Veitsknight
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 11:01:25 PM

You only have to click once to attack. And The one action queueing is still there. It was still one action queuing in DA:O (Don't know about the PS3 version though).

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Temjin001
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:49:38 AM
Reply

I played through the awesome demo tonight. The game is really incredible. I compared the two versions. They're both very close and most everyone should be happy with the quality. I did notice some small sound issues in the PS3 version. Also, in the second part of the demo, in the courtyard area, the PS3 version struggles just a tad to maintain it's frame rate. All around, it's good quality stuff.

I will say going from KZ3 to DA2 presents a major drop in graphics quality ;)

I do like the more stylish design of DA2, though. While it doesn't seem much more technically enhanced, the team managed to use an art style that better accommodates the graphics engine's abilities.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 10:02:25 AM

Here's an early screenshot comparison from thelensoftruth guys.

http://www.lensoftruth.com/head2head/demo/head2head-dragon-age-ii-demo-screenshot-comparison/

Looks real close, eh?
I'll say the 360 version boasts some slightly higher res textures, in some instances, but good luck spotting those differences in play. The main thing I'm concerned about in this comparison is the frame rate measurements.

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kraygen
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 11:36:51 AM

never seen that website before, so I have to ask, is it a biased site? Do they have integrity, can I trust that what they claim there is true?

Just curious as not all the side by sides are quite the same moment of capture, which I know would be difficult, but in a screen capture, 1 frame could be quite a difference. Plus I've seen other sides do these side by sides and for one side they'd actually use the computer version and on the other they'd put the poorest picture for the console they disliked.

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Jawknee
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:01:11 PM

They are biased and I love how places like this and DF crown themselves gurus of game development when they have never actually developed a game.

Perhaps Temji feels he needs to propagate this nonsense in order to keep this site "fair and balanced".

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:41:08 PM

WTF? When I click "Show only PS3" on the slider shots then it shows only Xbox, and vice versa.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 9:19:28 PM

They crown themselves gurus of game development?

That's profound man ;)


Last edited by Temjin001 on 2/23/2011 9:20:14 PM

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Fane1024
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:24:12 AM
Reply

Are there any DA: O spoilers in the demo? I haven't finished DA: O yet.

I know there's a gap in time between the games, but there still might be spoilers.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 2/23/2011 3:24:46 AM

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_valdips3_
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:57:51 AM
Reply

already pre-ordered it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 6:28:41 PM

Is that the Illusive Man? My netbook screen is kinda small.

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Veitsknight
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 6:36:33 AM
Reply

I liked how when you use a stance, the character actually takes a stance. Played the demo on both the PS3 and the PC and I like it better on the PC. I don't have to keep pressing a button to attack on the PC. I haven't seen a deathblow outside a cutscene though...

I also saw the option to toggle off the helmet, Hellyeah!

Last edited by Veitsknight on 2/23/2011 6:38:06 AM

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aaronisbla
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 6:53:54 AM
Reply

Looking forward to the game, not sure if i will get it day 1 though. Too many games coming out lately and im getting a little tired of games coming out, getting them, only to have the goty version come out with all the dlc.

Thanks Bioware, but i may choose to wait it out a bit. Don't worry though, you can have my wallet when Mass Effect 3 comes outs, now thats what i call a day 1 purchase

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aaronisbla
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 7:30:59 AM

I'm also hoping they do away with useless loot that cluttered the last game. Nothing spells disappointed like finding a chest deep in a dungeon that has the bronze dagger in it...

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Wesleypipes6
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 8:00:35 AM
Reply

I played the demo last night and I love how they took DAO and streamlined it so that it runs better. All of the ideas from DAO are there, character classes and customization, ability trees, skill points etc.  The game just feels like it plays smoother. If you liked DAO, you should love DA:II.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 8:39:07 AM
Reply

So many good games, not enough time to play them.

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tararara
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 10:00:29 AM

Screenshots looks awesome. And @maxpontiac - truly true!

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Beamboom
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 10:47:40 AM

Well, this is one game I got time for...!

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 11:52:42 AM
Reply

Wow, confused on this one. Kragen raised some good points. Not sure what to think. I loved how DA:O controlled. Well, I am going to have to download the demo. I just got another $20 credit from Amazon. So I am trying to decide what to buy between Motorstorm Apocalypse, Mortal Kombat and Dragon Age Origins II. Decisions!

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Jawknee
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 1:01:52 PM
Reply

Played the demo, didn't dig it. I miss Final Fantasy. :(

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:21:18 PM

We all do.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:18:51 PM
Reply

I still have to DL the demo, but that all sounds good to me. I don't think I'll be bothered by a more actiony interface, so long as it doesn't devolve into a slashfest. Barring a horrible Demo (which I wasn't sure I was gonna play or not) I'm looking forward to picking this up. Though I fear I'll be into ME2 for a long time yet it will be good to get back to swords and sorcery where I truly belong.

About the busts: JRPGs hold the trophy, not because of the massiveness of certain busts but because in WRPGs if the person isn't in your party or a major character then every woman in the whole world has the same size. Also they need to let you toy with is in character building like you can in WKC and Soul Calibur IV. ... what? Don't look at me like that.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 2/23/2011 3:21:05 PM

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sirbob6
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 3:36:19 PM
Reply

As much as I want this I will wait for them to release the GOTY edition that has the DLC.

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Lairfan
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 6:11:43 PM
Reply

The graphics are an improvement over DA:O's, but they're still pretty bad compared to other multiplats. Like Kraygen said, where's the textures?

Anyways, the gameplay's fine IMO, a little more action-focused but not too much so. Pretty fun demo overall, and a great length too. Still debating whether it'll be a D1P though, just simply because of all the other great games coming out. Devs really need to learn how to spread games throughout the year instead of overloading us at certain points of the year (hint: do the inFamous thing and try releasing some in the SUMMER).

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D1g1tal5torm
Sunday, February 27, 2011 @ 4:19:00 AM
Reply

Pleyed it for 5 mins - button mashed for a while then deleted it - rubbish.

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