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Divinity 2: Ego Draconis

 

Divinity 2: Ego Draconis

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: RPG
 
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Author:

Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: DTP Entertainment

Features

1 player
4MB game save
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
Content downloads

Divinity 2: Ego Draconis, the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Divine Divinity, is the first RPG to hit the retail shelves in 2010. We were lucky enough to get a chance to take the Xbox 360 version for a spin. Divinity II promises more than 60 hours of gameplay and a number of never-before-seen features in the genre. So does this medieval RPG have enough meat to offer gamers a great start to the New Year? You will just have to read on to find out.

Graphics

Visually speaking Divinity II is a bit of mixed bag. While the game's environments match the medieval feel and look for the most part there are large areas that are somewhat spartan. I noticed a few areas where textures repeat and seem quite bland when compared to a few of the game's others that are full of lush green grass and trees. I’m not sure why this inconsistency exists and I think that most who play this game will definitely notice it right away. This is too bad as there seems to be a solid visual base here but it definitely lacks the polish of other RPG titles on the Xbox 360.

Not all is bad though as the dragons look fantastic as do some of the special effects and lighting in the game. You will notice some great particle effects and eye pleasing explosions as you venture throughout the games various locales. The environments that you explore can be varied, and there is a fairly nice variety of places for you to go and explore. I also have to note that most of the in-game characters also look very good as they manage to fit the game's time period quite nicely.

Technically speaking Divinity II does have few visual glitches along the way, most notably 'herky-jerky' character movements and animations. At times they seem to slow to a crawl as each little move is drawn out, almost like the graphic engine is having a problem processing the information quick enough. The result can be a bit jarring. What is worse though is that these can happen anytime whether it be in the heat of battle or just walking around exploring your environment. Another weird anomaly is how the game can look very sharp and high-res when you are not moving, yet as soon as you begin to move things seems to come apart. Most prevalent during these times were huge anti-aliasing problems that should be a problem of last gen systems and games as the Xbox 360 is very powerful machine capable of so much more then those systems of the past.

Sound

Divinity II's audio musings are one of the game's brighter spots. The orchestral music feels and sounds like a perfect fit for the adventure. It is one of the better soundtracks that I have heard in sometime as it flows nicely with a well structured and uplifting beauty that is almost subtle at times, but I think most will agree very well done. The voice acting, while very good, can sound a bit forced and sometimes over the top, but in the end it does suit the games overall theme. I found that the production values here are quite good, but not really anything spectacular. I also think that the script could have used a good shot in the arm. As with most Xbox 360 titles the entire game is encoded in Dolby Digital so the sonic quality is very apparent right off the top. The sounds of swords to Dragons are all well crafted and add to the games realism.

Gameplay

Developed by Larian Studios, the creative minds behind 2002’s hailed RPG Divine Divinity, Divinity II: Ego Draconis is the next evolution of the ground breaking role-playing game set in the expansive world of Rivellon. Featuring a bevy of unique features to the role-playing game genre, you begin your journey as a Dragon Slayer, a warrior intent on protecting the lands from the aerial scourge of dragons, and their liege, the Dragon Knights. Your adventure takes you across a wide variety of towns, villages, territories, and dungeons, bringing you even closer to confronting Damien, a cursed Dragon Knight who has vowed to punish the lands for the murder of his lover.

Those who play this game will quickly find that Divinity II is a universe where might and magic rule the world as you are transformed into a powerful Dragon Slayer who is destined to become a Dragon Lord. Of course at its core, Divinity II is an RPG game that has the you exploring the land, fighting enemies, finding equipment, and of course levelling your character up.

The story revolves around your role as a Dragon Hunter who is attempting to purge dragons from your homeland. As you progress you will soon discover that you are more than just a humble Dragon Hunter but more specifically, a Dragon Lord. Yes the story is somewhat clichéd and the can be a bit contrived, but D&D type junkies should have plenty of fun and plenty of things to do. The game is non-linear in structure to an extent, giving you the option to make moves and decisions based on your skill or confidence. In a way this makes the game a little simpler than most D&D style games, which suited me just fine as I am not the biggest D&D fan out there.

In the end Divinity II is pretty much a hack n' slash affair with some RPG elements. You will have to gain experience as you make your way through the game's story gathering a variety of weapons and items for you to progress. You can use them to increase your health, skill set or even power. I found this side of the game fairly repetitive and generally unrewarding.

The story and levelling can be a very slow and tedious, fortunately you have the option to play as a dragon and this is where you should have the most fun. Don't get me wrong, combat as a human is enjoyable for the most part as you hack and slash or use various spells you acquire along your journey to victory. The downside is that it becomes all too familiar which can project a feeling of “been there and done that before”, which for me was a bit of a kill joy. The game has enough content for fans of the genre, but most casual gamers may baulk at the pace and lacklustre missions. Of course playing as the dragon is far more enjoyable, a being such comes with the ability to fly or breathe fire on poor townsfolk which can be quite fun.

Whether on foot or in the air, the games combat is performed in a third-person view and in real-time. The button placements are, for the most part, easy to use and utilize, although the camera may inhibit your attacks or defense if you are in a close up battle. I found this problem to be pretty minor, but it can be frustrating if the view gets a bit wonky in the heat of battle. The mix of using arms and spells is fairly basic with some satisfying results, especially if you have powered up your character. Unlike most RPG’s Divinity II lets you really make a true hybrid class. All characters start out with similar attributes but how they level and end up is completely up to you. Putting points into one of the many skill branches such as Priest, Mage, Warrior, Ranger, or Dragon Slayer directly influences your character’s skill set. I liked this pseudo-customization. Want to make a Ranger that knows a bit about how to cast spells or handle swords, go for it. How about equipping a mage with sword work skills? No problem as you can do whatever you like.

Another thing I liked was being able to lock onto enemies while fighting. The game can get hectic in areas, so a lock on skill is a great addition to combat as it allows you to concentrate your efforts on one enemy. This leads towards letting you pay more attention towards your own situational awareness and freeing up the ability to dodge out of harm’s way during battles.

Combat as a dragon isn’t fundamentally different, but does take combat into another plane. This third dimension, if you will, forces you to be very aware of enemies coming in at you from all directions. Flying around in your dragon form is simplistic but very fun in nature. It lets you worry about engaging airborne targets as well as ground based attacks. I thought the dragon really controlled well, I really liked being able to fly through and around trouble quickly.

As I mentioned earlier, this game claims to have 60 hours of gameplay, and after venturing through the game for about a week or so, I really cannot disagree with this statement. There is so much to do and so many places to explore that you will be putting a lot of time into this game, so be prepared for the investment.


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