Divinity II: Ego Draconis Review

Since the release of the acclaimed World Of Warcraft franchise, the fantasy RPG genre has been redefined for it’s addictive gameplay and customizable character elements. Other notable titles such as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fable would go on to further immerse fans in the realm and open up a world full of possibilities. Now with the start of the New Year comes a dull and diluted RPG titled Divinity II: Ego Draconis. Here are a few reasons why you should pass on this game and wait for Fable III instead.

Divinity II: Ego Draconis is billed as being the sequel to Divine Divinity, a computer role-playing game that was created back in 2002 by Belgian developer Larian Studios. The story takes place in Rivellon, a world populated by both humans and creatures unaware of the impending war that is before them. You assume the role of a nameless Dragon Slayer who is focused on taking down dragons to preserve society’s order. However throughout your journey, you also have the ability to become a Dragon, which instantly puts your foes at a disadvantage. After taking part in the dragon slayer ritual, you’ll have the option of choosing from 1 of 3 significant disciplines that will aid you in combat. They are as follows:

Ranger– Path Of Archery
Warrior– Path Of Sword
Alberic– Path Of Magic

It’s worth noting that there will be instances where some of these skills can be combined but it requires that you practice strategy to get the most impact from your attacks. The one good aspect of combat is that you can switch weapons virtually on the fly by pressing any of the corresponding buttons on the controller For example, if you choose the path of the warrior you’ll be able to use your sword by pressing X then switch to using your arrows by pressing A. You also have the option of Leveling Up your character by adding points to their specified abilities as stated below:

Vitality– General Health and Fitness
Spirit– Mental Power and Aptness
Strength– Physical Prowess and Athleticism
Dexterity– Agility and Reflexes
Intelligence– Cognitive Competence and Resistance to Attacks

Among the strongest skillsets you can acquire is the ability to mindread. This is significant because it allows you to have the upperhand in conversations, rewarding you with both cheaper prices from vendors and unveiling passwords to acquire more riches or unlockables. The same could be said about lockpicking techniques, which are also gained by properly allocating your Experience points to the right abilities only earned through combat. The campaign of the game clocks at about 60 hrs total should you decide to participate in the many sidequests that are offered. While these tasks are extremely repetitive in nature, any fan who truly wants to attain any or all of the insanely deep skillsets available will more then likely progress through the game for that very reason.

Since Divinity II: Ego Draconis was a game created primarily for the PC gamer, its seems like the decision to release an Xbox 360 version came as a complete and underwhelming afterthought.  The graphics remain choppy and washed out easily putting it on par with launch titles from the previous generation of consoles. There are noticeable lag times, which occur all too often while your character is moving throughout the world. Even more frustrating is the game’s high tendency to crash, which usually happens at pivotal points in the campaign. This also exposes a flawed save system which forces the player to start from the beginning of a task rather then picking up from where they left off. For example, after your epic first encounter with the main antagonist of the game, Damien, you are then sent forth on a mission to gain enough power to beat him. Common sense would dictate that if this is a crucial point in the game and Autosave is automatically enabled then you should be able to start over from this point on. However, once your character dies you are forced with the task of playing from the previous savepoint to reach that sequence again. Equally annoying is the fact that you can’t skip over cutscenes, which pretty much becomes the equivalent of pulling teeth.

Divinity II also claims to have an intuitive morality system that rewards players with new experiences. This fact isn’t clearly displayed though because most of the conversations you engage in lead to the same result 9 times out of 10. The lack of range creates boredom and therefore isn’t enough to keep a gamer interested for very long. Customizing your character is extremely limited in scope meaning you can only choose hairstyles, facial appearance, voice, demeanor, and gender. The fact that you can’t change the race of your character is pretty insulting given that it’s suggested that in this setting there is diversity but it only applies to the differences between the humans and the creatures.

As I mentioned before the enemy A.I. is extremely unforgiving and warrants that you take the necessary precautions to win battles. There are jumping evasive maneuvers to avoid hits instead of dedicated cover system. The only problem is that your character is extremely weak throughout most of game and isn’t given quite as much incentives to gain power. For Example, after defeating the Arben Ghost inhibiting your soul you are given his sword to add to your arsenal of weapons. Immediately after receiving it, your lead commander takes it leaving you with the same lackluster weapons that you began the game with. This is a harsh slap in the face later once you face off against an array of enemies that are far more powerful and advanced then you.

By the same token, when you take on the form of the Dragon you are virtually unstoppable. The only problem is that this privilege is only gained through certain parts of the story and therefore most of your time is spent in human form. Beyond the surface, the main gimmick of this title is the ability to play as a Dragon. Therefore, it would only make sense to emphasize and push those boundaries further. Given that there is no multiplayer support in this game, there could have easily been a versus mode for Dragon fights between players over Xbox live or PC. It might not have been much but it definitely could have been a better alternative to playing a cliché story mode corrupted only by its own limitations.

Final Verdict:
Divinity II: Ego Draconis is a forgettable RPG that lacks dimensionality and only exists to capitalize on the genre. While the RPG elements of leveling up and the ability to play as a dragon may be fun for gamers, the limit you have to go through to achieve these goals hardly seems worth it at all. If you enjoy playing fantasy RPG’s I would strongly urge that you play Dragon Age: Origins instead. In the issue of fairness, I’m sure the PC version performs better given that it was originally manufactured to be played on a top tier computer. However as it stands now, playing this game is divinely atrocious so much so that I’m sure somewhere in the world Peter Jackson is shaking his head in disappointment.

This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the Xbox 360.

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