I'd heard quite a few 'meh' reviews about "Dragon Age II" before I had a chance to play. Not that it was bad, just that it wasn't an exciting follow-up to the stand-out "Dragon Age: Origins"; that it did not equal, let alone surpass, its predecessor.
This is true only in some respects.
Character-wise, it was brilliant. Varric is the absolute stand-out, the best company any warrior could have - as well as an excellent person to carry the tale into the future. Aveline enjoyably upright in an occasionally teeth-grinding way. Fenris, slightly psychotic, but tremendously honourable (and glowy!) [Though with a disconcerting number of things in common with Faille from "Stained Glass Monsters".] Anders, returning with a warped sense of Justice. And Flemeth, rather marvellous this time round.
Environment-wise, fairly poor. There's not much travel, and a big re-use of maps. The combat didn't require a great deal of thinking (but sometimes I like it that way).
Plot-wise, this is an unheroic story with a time-skipping structure which gave an episodic and somewhat sour flavour to what is a historic chronicle of how politics and madness in one city led to the great mage-templar war. When your character isn't straight-out hunting money for the sake of money, or losing important people with no chance of rescue, they're wobbling a tight-rope path toward an inevitable confrontation. In the end I felt like I'd surely slaughtered everyone on BOTH sides, and that there could hardly be anyone left to argue any more.
I'm glad I played, and in some ways this surpassed "Origins" for me, but it's hard to feel uplifted. So, recommended, but I hope that the next game in the series favours heroism over politics.