Divinity 2 - Ego Draconis Review
Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 26th November 2009
Divinity 2 - Ego Draconis
- Developer: Larian Studios
- Publisher: Mastertronic
- Release Date: 20th November 2009
I was a big fan of Divine Divinity when it released in 2002, I played the game hour after hour searching the mystical land of Rivellon and undertaking many quests. Its spin-off, Beyond Divinity however didn't make the same impression and left me a little disappointed. But now with Divinity II: Ego Draconis, Larian Studios are set to put things right with a truly great role-playing experience.
The game returns to Rivellon which is a vastly different place, decades after the Great War with the Damned One - Damian and the Black Ring. But despite relative peace, darkness is once again rearing its head as Damian and the Black Ring look to take a hold of Rivellon. Divinity II – Ego Draconis places you in the role of a young Dragon Slayer, an order of knights sworn to destroy the ancient race of dragons and those humans who have been deemed worthy enough to be granted the power of the dragon – the Dragon knights. In the opening sequences of the game you are sent with your unit to investigate dragon sightings in Broken Valley, where you encounter a Dragon Knight! When she is fatally injured by your comrades, the Dragon Knight infuses you with the power of the dragon and from hereon in you must discover the ways of the Dragon Knights so you can take on the form of the dragon and stop Damian and the Black Ring and restore peace to Rivellon.
The first major difference you will notice in Divinity II from its predecessors is that the games graphical style has had a complete rework. The classic isometric view has been replaced with a third person view and looks absolutely stunning. Forests are filled with dense vegetation and towering trees with shafts of light shining through to the ground casting highly detailed shadows, mountains can be seen far off in the distance, rivers shimmer and gleam in the sun light as they flow down through the game world reflecting the images of the forest and characters in them. The game world is truly stunning and Larian has done a brilliant job of creating a living world, with rabbits, birds and deer all going about their daily business. This s further enhanced by brilliant ambient sounds that really help to portray Rivellon as a living world. Not all is perfect in the visual department however! Character faces lack the same level of detail seen in some recent games with the same models used fairly frequently. Although having said that the armour and outfits adorned by some characters look absolutely fantastic, so the face issue is only a minor grumble in what is a fantastic looking game.
Character customisation is a little limited, you are only able to change the hair style and facial hair of your characters. As the game places you in the role of a Dragon Slayer, the developers have done away with classes, instead introducing specialisations, Ranger, Warrior, and Mage. Whilst this initial selection influences your characters starting stats, giving them a boost! As you level up you can award skill points to any of the abilities from the specialisations giving you a more rounded character then in other roleplaying games. Whilst this obviously does have its benefits, it does make the initial choice seem a little pointless and RPG purists maybe a little disappointed by the approach Divinity II has taken towards character development. As a Dragon Slayer you are also able to read the minds of any of the games NPC’s, this will cost you experience, putting you in debt which you will have to clear before you start gaining experience towards levelling up again. However it can reap great benefits, revealing locations to hidden treasure, gain you skill points or be granted discounts at trader’s stalls. In addition to the three available class skills, as a Dragon Slayer you are also able to learn the skills of a priest, giving you access to healing abilities, allowing you to raise ghosts and the undead to fight by your side. In Divinity II these skills can often prove to be invaluable, thanks to the rather unforgiving A.I which will test even the more seasoned RPG gamer. Enemies are your usual staple of RPG mainstays, Imp’s, Goblins, Bandits, the Undead and so on and all will do their up most to stop you in your tracks! Playing Divinity II you get the distinct impression that Larian Studios really wanted to test you as you’ll often find yourself outnumbered by enemies, which are often a couple of ranks higher than you. This means in Divinity 2 regular saves are a must, as death can lurk around every corner. This can become a little frustrating at times as you reach points you don’t feel you can get by without gaining a few levels and it’s fairly easy to become extremely frustrated, but this is simply a reminder to use your full skill set and range of weapons at your disposal and Divinity II may require you to change the way you are use to playing role-playing games in order to find success!
As with any roleplaying game, the story is the key to success and Divinity II is gripping and epic! Driving you on, even when gameplay wise the game does become a little frustrating? The story is driven forward with some good voice acting which can be quite comical at times, but also by some absolutely stunning cut-scenes which look like they’ve come straight from a CGI blockbuster movie. Quests are pretty original and instead of the simple retrieving of objects as in some roleplaying games. You will often find yourself having to bring bandits to justice, sort out disputes between NPC’s and take care of assassins stalking their prey. As with a lot of roleplaying games, Divinity II is fairly combat intensive, however it does allow for a lot of exploration and you can often find characters and quests hidden in areas you wouldn’t expect to find them. Areas themselves are very large and you can go almost everywhere! In true Divinity fashion the game world is also littered with hidden catacombs and tunnels allowing for even more exploration. The game is absolutely huge! I invested between 30 to 35 hours in the game and still had many quests to undertake and visit some of the varied locations which range from small hamlets to intricate towns and sheer cliffs with camps littered throughout!
Obviously one of the biggest draws of Divinity II – Ego Draconis will be the ability to morph into a dragon, this allows you to again, develop further skills that only apply to your dragon form and also attack enemy strongholds with relative ease. However, it is a little limited in scope as you are only able to transform into this powerful form in open areas and you can’t really use the power of the dragon against enemies that cause you real problems. When playing as the dragon the game feels much more like an action game rather than a roleplaying game, and despite being implemented well it does feel like something of a gimmick rather then a key gameplay component.
Performance wise the game runs without much fuss, there are a couple of issues with it getting stuck on load-up screens and not closing down to Windows when you’ve finished playing but other than that the game seems to run pretty much bug free.
Overall Divinity II – Ego Draconis, despite some frustrating aspects proves to be an enjoyable playing experience. The difficulty on offer in the titles shows that the game is geared towards the hardcore RPG fan, however some of the character development aspects and the lack of customisation may prove to be a negative. But, if you can get past these issues Divinity II is a truly epic game, with a story that will drive you on hour after hour!
Review Score: 8/10
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