Divinity II: Ego Draconis

5.0 Overall Score

Written by on May 10, 2010 in

Take a trip to times of old! It’s a land where women wear boob-tight armor and the men sound like Jack Sparrow. Welcome to the world of Divinity 2. If you had the pleasure of playing this game prior to reading my review, I apologize greatly. I believe survival shirts should be produced.

When tasked with this review, I was given the choice between a hotel simulation game and the full blown epic looking RPG that is Divinity 2. I pulled up screen shots and I believe my exact words were, “give me the RPG – it looks absolutely wicked!”. Plus the game was built using the Gamebryo game engine, which is one that my company had the pleasure of working with awhile back so I felt it could be a stroll through memory lane, in a fashion.

"Are my boobs showing? Good."

I received the game, sat down to play it, and…

Once I emerged from the fetal position, crying and shivering from playing this game, I realized I still had a review to write. So once I emerged from the fetal position that followed due to that realization, I sat back down at my trusty iPad and got to work. I’ve been informed that this review is more a rant than a review, so kick-back and grab a beer – it’s time to load up the Rantmobile and go head-first towards disaster. Survivors will be given t-shirts and dinner.

Divinity 2 is a game that starts off looking rather pretty. The packaging is attractive and mentions the ability to create your own fighting companion. Visions of stitching bits of meat together excitedly filled my mind as I waited for the installer to imbue my computer with the software. Here was when my first warning came to me, like an axe to the brain. Now, you have to understand, I have a pretty beefy gaming computer. Power hungry games like Bioshock 2 have always by default set their video settings to the max, which my computer responded with “That’s all you’ve got?”. Divinity 2, on the other hand, felt it to be better than that. It wanted to stand at the top of the hill and laugh at all the other lesser-fortunate games not able to benchmark at its level. No. Divinity 2 set itself to the medium settings. I thought nothing of this at the time, figuring it nothing more than a hardware check that didn’t go right. So I set everything to max and started my journey. As I expected, the game ran blazing fast on my computer, even with max settings.

The game begins with the creation of your character, which is based on a very small number of faces and hair styles (all with baked-in color, none of this modern shader driven hair color selection). You also get to choose one of a variety of silly sounding voices – most of which sound like Jack Sparrow’s retarded cousin, and you can choose to be male or female, something that those screaming about games without female characters should simply love. If you choose to be female you will earn your first glimpse of Divinity 2’s Boob Tight Clothing and Armor system, if you are into that sort of thing. I do my business in mens rooms and enjoy reading Playboy, so I’m probably not the best judge of that. Let’s just say if you ARE into skin tight armor and clothing on every single female character regardless of who they are or what they do, then Divinity 2 will not disappoint. Also, every girl in this game is young, thin and attractive, just like in real life. The men get older, but still have what I guess could be called attractive features – but again, that whole mens room bit, so not the best judge, here.

Having successfully created our character, we are rewarded with a confusing cut scene which depicts a guy in a floating castle and someone hunting a dragon. Perhaps if I had played Divinity 1 this would make a little more sense, but alas, I have not.

What occurs next is a trend in fail that is simply painful, and any video game to do this should instantly be relegated to the very deepest depths of the bargain bin. After having watched a beautifully rendered introduction cinematic, we are now provided with another cinematic that was recorded by putting a camera in the game world, turning on FRAPS (a video recording tool for games) and hitting “GO!”. The end result is a blocky, craptactular looking cinematic that should have just been rendered entirely in-game in real time. As a developer, I understand the memory constraints and trickiness of doing cinematics as they require extra time, and they can require a lot of extra video RAM and a number of other things – but come on, guys. It’s not impossible, and the “FRAPS a camera in the game” solution just makes you look lazy. If you did enjoy that video, however, no worries – it is the first of MANY to come.

After an already awkward introduction, the actual game finally begins. Awkward… I think that is an appropriate word. In fact, I think it may be the theme of this game. As I start moving my character towards fame and destiny as a Slayer, it’s clear where the developers became lazy with fixes and testing. If you press the attack button while moving, you will perform a back kick or some other martial arts maneuver. Once you land, your character will rather commonly start sliding forward before the run animation starts. I can understand where they may have wanted combat to move a bit quicker, but they should have also reduced the animation time to match because this just looks… what’s the word I’m looking for… awkward! Though even this does not matter, as combat in the game is rather slow, boring, and awkward anyway. But now I get ahead of myself.

Entering any town throughout the game, It becomes clear pretty quickly that the development team put some solid work into the art of the buildings in this world. They are probably some of the most attractive things about the game, so time spent in towns was not visually unappealing. The dense forests and more natural areas of the game are rather pretty as well, however some alpha-channel issues in the grasses cause there to be some odd looking regions, where tall grasses and plants have what look like a white outline around them. While an annoying problem to fix, and one I have personally faced when producing games, this is something that could have been fixed. It occurs visually enough to become distracting, and I don’t feel it is something that should have been left for a patch.

One of the features about this game that could have been rather exciting is the conversations system. Having played Fallout 3 and enjoying its very well done conversations system, I was looking forward to what I had hoped would be a comparable experience. What I instead received was yet another awkward gameplay element that just did not feel well planned or playtested. Almost every time you start a conversation you are removed from your third person view and placed into a special conversation camera where the NPC will awkwardly thrust themselves in various ways in what I believe is meant to be gestures and animation, however I’m not convinced of that. These strange animations are shortly overcome by the ability to read minds. Yes! At last, you can look deep into your friends and enemies and find out what they are really thinking, see if they find you attractive, or just see who they think has been doing what. Trust me…. it’s not as exciting as it sounds. In fact, it’s rather… surprise… awkward!

Had this been Bioshock, we would have received a sparkly video telling us how reading peoples minds is a great party trick. Amaze your friends, it would say. Coming back to reality, we are still playing Divinity 2. This of course means that mind reading is about as half-assed as a BLT with just bread. To perform this feat of mental prowess, you must press a button on the conversation interface. On the far left, FAR from all the other buttons. Every person you talk to you end up wanting to “read”, so you have to press that button quite often. Upon pressing the button, now we can hear what the other person is thinking… or at least, we could have, if the game was not so damned awkward. First we have to approve the fact that we are willing to LOSE OUR HARD EARNED EXPERIENCE POINTS to perform this mind-read. Every. Single. Time. And sometimes the amount is rather high. You start off losing 10, 20 XP… then you quickly go up to 400XP and so forth. The information you get is sometimes good, and other times its just worthless. So it is a system that can be beneficial in the way having drunken sex is with someone who has surprise gonorrhea. It’s all fun and games and can be rewarding, but the experience just isn’t worth it. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just ram a money clip with a few thousand up the ass of the player?

Ok. So the conversation system is awkward and has rewards equivalent to STDs. Surely the combat system must be better. And I’m sure it is, in some alternate realty version where things in this world that are made of the purest form of fail are instead gilded in gold and dipped in diamonds.

After being subjected to some seriously crappy gameplay and game design, I was looking forward to taking out my frustration on some enemies. So I choose my method of combat – Warrior! Brandishing my sword I am ready to do some manly things and kill things in manly ways. Alright Time to beat some bad things into gooey puddles of meat pudding.

If only the combat was actually this exciting.

Alas. We should know what’s coming. The theme to this game has been incredibly well implemented, even in combat. What followed was a combat session more against my common senses than the enemies. The theme of awkwardness continues as aiming towards the enemies is flakey and weird feeling, moving your character in fast paced situations does not work well and swinging with the sword is as easy as hammering the mouse button as fast as possible. There is no strategy or – let’s face it – fun in the combat system whatsoever.

I could go on and on talking about continuing awkward gameplay, poor design ideas and overall a game that looks way better than it really is. I could go into further detail about the in-game, pre-recorded cut scenes that are filmed I’m the game rather than being pre-rendered. I could talk about the lackluster particle effects that look like the entire collection was slammed together in a few days. Or, I could spare you further details. Which also means I don’t have to continue writing about what was a lesson in “OMG WHY”.

How about that puzzling automatic options configuration? That was answered when I left the beginning area of the game. While in the first area, the framerate was incredible and the game ran like a dream (well, one of those dreams where you are giving a speech in your underwear). Once I left the beginning area, I found myself in a lavish forest complete with swaying grasses, towering trees and less than half the framerate I had previously. So yes, the initial settings for the game were correct – it was simply the QA on the game that was lacking, or flat out did not exist at all. If there had been any kind of QA, they would have caught many of the glaring gameplay problems and inconsistent framerates. No, I take that back – inconsistent framerates would more be like when the game runs good in one place and becomes a little choppy somewhere else. Divinity 2 has more of what I would call bipolar framerates.

At least the scenery is pretty…

As a reviewer, the pain didn’t exactly end once I had played the game for awhile. The makers of Divinity 2, dtp Entertainment AG, were thoughtful enough to provide us with a reviewers disc full of screenshots and saved games for various parts of the game. Keeping with the theme here, the saved games wouldn’t even load giving me the error of “Language Incompatible Saved Game”. Whatever epic awesomeness the company wanted to share with us through these saved games was lost due to technical errors that they couldn’t have worked out before shipping the game to get blasted by reviewers. Or maybe that is why they didn’t bother fixing the saved games – they knew the game was crap, so why bother?

Wow… That was kind of a rant, wasn’t it? Ok. So outside of the glaring negatives that this game has, what about it makes it worth playing? Pretty scenery, I… Guess? In all seriousness, this game is just not worth playing. It looks good, the music is good, and the voice acting isn’t even half bad. But the gameplay is just awkward and tedious, and any fun that this game could have had is syphoned out almost as quickly as it takes to just turn it off and find something else to play.

A copy of the game Divinity 2 was provided to The Married Gamers for the purpose of examination and review.  When not writing reviews and articles, Dave Calabrese runs his game development company, Cerulean Games, Inc. and enjoys the mountain air of Denver, CO.

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Author: Dave Calabrese View all posts by
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dave has always looked towards creative mediums as a way to showcase untold stories and to entertain others. From a young age, Dave would spend hours in his family's home creating home-made board games and writing stories. His father worked in the game industry, which allowed Dave the early insight on another direction he could take his creative inspirations in. He eventually found a job in the game industry, and seven years later had a stack of published games under his belt and a number of award winning titles to bulletpoint his resume with. Dave continues to pave the way to the future of the games industry by telling stories and entertaining through interactive mediums which will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you come back for more.

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