I finished the game yesterday and I find that compared to DA:Origins all the bad rep is somewhat founded, but taking the game out of that context and as a stand alone it's still a pretty good game.
My main criticism is the repetitive re-use of the same maps over and over. I might clear out and area and an hour later I will be back there again just with new barrels and crates with more trash loot and another uninteresting set of generic bad guys to kill. And you can count on the game sending you back to that exact same place again.
My main surprise is how few bugs there were for a 1.0 release. Technically I only had problems *after* I updated my nvidia gfx driver, but until then there were no technical problems. There were a few game play bugs but no show stoppers that I encountered, one side quest didn't seem to trigger at the set location, and one companion quest seemed to have skipped a chunk leaving me wondering what she was talking about.
After a short play through to the start of act 2 as a rogue (archer) I decide switch to a warrior as I was spending most of my time micro managing the npc warrior's threat rather than playing my rogue anyway.
I re-rolled a warrior and played him as a 2-handed tank and I'm glad I did because he was very fun to play, and dished out massive damage (and threat), his motto before entering battle was "does it blend?" By the end of act 3 my warrior was one-shotting *groups* before any of the NPC's could react, and some lieutenants were getting 2-shot.
I have mixed feelings about some of the boss fights. There were some great set piece boss fight like a rock elemental in the deep roads (he reminded me of a certain dragon boss fight in world of warcraft). But many seemed just a little to tedious, mainly due to the bosses having too high a health pool thus the fights became repetitive once you get passed the first bit of working out the mechanics of the fight.
My least favourite boss was the Arishok duel, which I had to look up on Youtube. My chosen warrior class is supposed to be the least effective in that fight but I preserved and got through it after lowering the difficulty setting to the easiest one.
I would give Dragon Age: Origins a 9/10 and it's probably my favourite RPG of all time, but for Dragon Age 2 I give it a 7/10. The story and characters just didn't grab and engage me like DA:O did, and I prefer a complex detailed game to a simplified one, but that doesn't mean DA2 is bad in that regard, it's just not as good.