Daily Archives: April 19, 2011

Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga and the curse of the Gamebryo engine

Thank every single star in the divine sky for things like free, downloadable demos. Without such treasures, I might have actually gone out and paid money for Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. Good thing I didn’t.

I’ve had a real hankering lately for a big RPG, especially a Western one. Something to really sink my teeth into and give up many hours on and grind until the day is done. That sort of experience, and unfortunately 11/11/11 is still far away, but it seemed like, from images and previews and even YouTube videos, that Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga could fit the bill. I mean, it’s a brand new release for the Xbox 360 at only $40.00 that promises over 80 hours worth of gaming in a fantasy land brimming with magic, dragons, and silver-eyed Slayers. Count me in, but I downloaded the demo because I wanted to make sure that there were no tiny text issues to deal with, which is a problem I had when trying out the Gothic IV demo earlier this year.

The good news is the text is perfectly readable for Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. The bad news? Well, the game seems to be pretty terrible, especially for a current gen roleplaying adventure. Where to start? Well, it opens up with a little cinematic of an armorered man on a flying ship looking down at a city. Then it cuts to another man in the woods, preparing to take on a dragon. After that excitement, we get to…create a character. Sort of. We’re limited to picking a name, a gender, a hair style, a beard style, and a voice: I made Pickles look as close to me as possible and gave him a soldier’s tone. Yes, that’s right. Pickles. The greatest Slayer in all of Rivellon.

A woman with silver eyes is speaking to me about a ritual to become a Slayer. Her mouth is far too large for her face, and it does not move in sync with the words she is saying; it’s beyond distracting and makes me want to set her on fire. Graphically, she’s ugly, and I can see all the jagged polygon edges of her character build. After our chat is over, I get to finally control Pickles, and from his very first step forward I knew our journey together was over. See, the camera hangs behind him just so that you can only see him really from the waist up, giving the impression that he is either surfing, skating, or sliding along the grass, giving those rabbits a run for their money. I found no solution to this camera problem. Inside the local town, I spoke with some more ugly people who pointed me towards a waterfall where I’d meet some kind of mage. I did, and she gave me the memories of dragons and silver eyes, which allowed me to see the ghostly demon monster she was chatting with before I arrived. After that, well…I walked around a bit, punched a rabbit, and quit to the Xbox 360 dashboard–I’d seen enough.

A shame, really. There’s a lot of neat stuff here, and from what I’ve read online, a lot of neat stuff yet to come. Our hero gets his very own battle tower to upgrade in the same fashion as the hero’s castles in the Suikoden series? Aww, man. But the Gamebryo engine has its limitations, and it’s just a little shocking to see an RPG using this engine fall below such titles as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion some five years later. The graphics felt subpar, the running and jumping animations are almost laughable, and the demo didn’t give me a lot to do but walk around in its stilted world. I will say that the voice acting was of good quality, but the constant talk of Slayers and Dragons and Dragon Knights and Dragon Slayers gets a little generic after a few minutes. Give me some detailed lore or get out.

New quest accepted! Delete this 1,9 gigs demo as soon as possible.

Does anyone know if Risen is any good? How about Two Worlds II? Don’t suggest Dragon Age II or Fable III as I know in my heart of hearts those games will just disappoint me greatly. I’m close to finishing up all those arcade games I bought some days ago and need a solid RPG to keep me busy.

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