I picked up Dragon Age II late on Friday and put a significant chunk of time into it. I just started the second section of the game (I guess there's going to be a focus on the Qunari?) and I've been enjoying myself immensely. What's bugging me is that the entire reason I put off buying the game for so long is that the fan reaction--people who enjoyed or even loved Origins and Awakening--made it sound incredibly disappointing.
It's one of those cases where I recognize virtually all of the criticisms: combat is too easy, waves of enemies are stupid, the visual quality is noticeably worse (though the art style is better), the lack of companion inventory is disappointing, the repeated environments are tedious, and I'd go so far as to say the new layout of the skill system is confusing (not helped by the fact that no single character, including Hawke, follows a single, unified skill system).
But what couldn't come across in the reviews is that I'd enjoy the companions so much. These people actually seem like friends, so even the boring ones (Aveline!) are likable. The passage of time allows their relationships to take on new depth (Varric's quiet dedication to keeping Anders and Merrill safe is touching) and the performances are all great.
I also didn't realize that having a voiced player character would actually be a point in the game's favor! I don't know about the female version, but male Hawke is a loveable smart-ass. He's got far more personality than just about any other RPG protagonist I've ever played, and the game is frankly much better for it.
I'm not saying that other people are wrong, mind you. The game could break my heart before the end, and a lot of this is subjective. It's just a shame that all of the criticism--while consistent and accurate--failed to make it seem possible that the game had strengths that I would value over its (many, noticeable) weaknesses. I'm kind of ashamed that I didn't buy it earlier and show the game some support. I do think they probably should not have marketed it as a direct sequel (just as New Vegas wasn't Fallout 4). I'm now retroactively saddened by the cancellation of the expansion. I hope that they won't sweep everything they did here aside as a failure, because, if nothing else, I want to see more characters as well-written as the ones in DA2.