Few in number are the western fantasy RPGs on Xbox 360 that can be called hard core. The last one I played through was the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion which was released nearly half a decade ago. With the disparity of quality western RPGs on the 360 one would think that even a mediocre entry to the genre might be a welcome addition. Divinity II certainly is a mediocre game, but can it stand among titles like Dragon Age Origins, Oblivion, and Fable II? The short answer is no.
The protagonist of Divinity II has a promising origin. As a Dragon Slayer disciple he/she has dedicated his/her life to the eradication of the hated Dragon Knights. Originally emissaries of the ancient and once revered dragons, the knights were given the gifts of long life, power, wealth, and above all the ability to transform into a lesser form of a dragon. The Dragon Knights were very powerful, influential, and in some cases worshiped by the people they protected, but when the Damned One raged war on humanity they sided with him. Their betrayal was never forgiven, and to this day they are hunted by the Slayers to avenge those who were killed because of their actions.
As the game begins we take control of our slayer as they enter into the final stages of their induction into the sacred order of Dragon Slayers. A ritual is performed that gives our hero the mental faculties of the dragon,allowing them to read minds and be protected from the dragon knights’ mental attacks. Before our character can complete the process, there by preventing them from going mad, the team of slayers he/she is with decides to investigate rumors of a dragon sighted at a nearby town. The story only becomes more non-sensical from there on out. You come a cross a dragon who somehow magically imbues you with the abilities of a dragon, but only a fraction of their abilities (i.e. you can jump higher). Then Damian, the Damned One himself, kicks you in the head and monologues in classic bad guy fashion before leaving you to sleep. You wake up to find Zandalar the colorfully dressed wizard informing you that your destiny is to resurrect the soul of Damian’s girlfriend so that he may die. This is only a small taste of the needless complexities and backwards logic that plagues the story of Divinity II.
The next major issue that the game runs into is the control scheme. Jumps are done by squeezing the right trigger, the “action button” is LB, left trigger is lock on (which I used maybe 3 times), and the face buttons are used for spells, edibles (read: potions), and combat actions. Assigning action to buttons is as easy as holding down the button you want to set to open the menu of available actions. Accidentally pausing the game while casting a spell or attacking an enemy is equally as easy. The control scheme for Divinity II is as clever an imitation of a PC’s keyboard on a 360 controller as I’ve seen, and it works for the most part. The problem is that no matter how much I used the control scheme and felt that I was getting used to them I would still have the occasional instances of accidentally pausing the game or using a potion when I meant to jump.
Divinity II is a vibrant colorful game with an art style that sits some where between the realism of a simulation and the campy cartoon style of games like World of Warcraft. There is an impressive amount of detail and the world feels alive and large enough for an adventure game; when it wasn’t stuttering and sputtering during combat. Anyone who has played the demo will know what I’m talking about. Divinity II is not quite a sand box game but there is enough freedom to explore Rivellon to give the impression that you‘re playing in only a part of a much larger world. While large amounts of the game are spent on foot there are teleportation shrines scattered throughout the lands which make it easy travel back to town when you need to trade. Enemies are plentiful and behave according to their roles during combat, making enemy tactics predictable but effect enough to be challenging at times. The variety of enemies is varied enough to keep players from feeling like their beating up the same polygons time and time again.
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