I figured that after loving the first game so much, even with my initial apprehension due to how much they seemed to change, as well as the overwhelming number of negative responses I'd heard, I had to at least give the game a try for myself. And boy, does it suck.
The gameplay sucks, the dialog sucks, your companions suck; it just sucks. Your companions fill the roles of numerous archtypes, all of them with relatively cliche backstories and non-redeeming personalities. I'm completely unable to understand what Bioware could possibly have been thinking as far as the design of the game... If the first game was very successful and well received, why go out of your way to make it as different from the first game as possible while still making it relevant enough to share the same title?
Not to mention the pinnacle of awful game making: the vast array of dlc available with the game upon release. Now I have no problem with DLC that's released after the game has been out; something they made afterward that people have the option of purchasing to extend or improve their experience of the game... As a relevant example, I think the short DA expansions would fall into this category. But taking things out of the release-version of the game and asking me to pay more for them? No, fuck you.
The game would have been 100x better with Alistair, the end.