Name: Dragon Age Origins
Description: Dragon Age Origins is an RPG from the relatively new developer, BioWare, which some may know as the creators of the now famous Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, which comes out this year. To put it simply, Dragon Age is the call to many fans of the fantasy RPG experience that have been starved throughout this generation of consoles. Where great Tales or Final Fantasy games remain missing or hidden, Dragon Age paves the way for the fantasy fans ever so, aloowing us all to once again delve into the fantastic worlds of elves, dwarves, magic, and dragons. And let's not forget the valiant knights and damsels in distress either!
Story and Setting:
Dragon Age Origins takes place in the nation of Ferelden, a medieval country like any other in the genre: it has squabbling lords, monsters to be killed, and quests to be done. Quests range from, "hey, bring me this item from the shelf," to, "yeah, go there and fight this giant monster for me, kthx." As for your own character, you decide from plenty of options on how he or she looks, like any other create your character system. You choose between three races: Human, Elf, or Dwarf; you also choose between three class: Warrior, Mage, and Rogue. It should be noted that there are six different beginnings to the game depending on what you pick, but some are special. For example, humans can be nobles or mages, with all mages having one introduction regardless of race. Dwarves cannot be mages for biological reasons explained in the game, but can be of a noble decent or simply a commoner, etc. Memorable characters of variety join along your way depending on if you'll take them or not. Starting partners include Allistair, the goofy soldier, Morrigan, a cynical mage with shapeshifting powers, and your loyal Mabari war hound, which you get to name and keep yourself. Regardless of your race and class, you will become a Grey Warden, an elite soldier destined to fight and most likely die fighting against the Darkspawn horde, an army of monsters and demons born from the sins of mankind itself. Only a Warden can defeat them, and early on, you find it up to you to stop them.
Pretty good I'd say. Facial expressions of characters seem real at times, as you can obviously see sadness or anger in the way they move their eyes or eyebrows. Enchanting your weapon with a fire rune actually lights up the environment around you with a reddish glow, and wolves and bears look like wolves and bears. Although cutscenes are most often dialogue, the building graphics look nicely polished without zooming in beyond possibility to see pixel for pixel. You can often see though, however, that unlike some other new games, grass does not move, trees do not sway in the wind, and pretty much nothing in the environment reacts with your characters besides characters themselves. A treasure chest will glow when filled with treasure, but won't even open when you loot its contents, and will sit there afterwards as if never touched. If a door is hidden behind a bookcase, you will simply be able to walk through the bookcase, rather than go through a simple motion of moving it. I do have to say though, that the animations for spells and finishing moves are rather fun to watch, especially with the blood of your enemies lingering on your armor after your final kill.
The battle system itself isn't as great as you'd expect, however, but it is fun nonetheless. It's a simple target and click system, much like most MMORPGs are nowadays, and techniques (called Talents) are performed by either going through a quick and easy to use circular menu, or by assigning them shortcuts and using them with the press of a button. It's not as engaging as the Kingdom Hearts type of battle system, but the ease of use allows you to get into the game much easier, and stay in the game much longer. Weapons range from daggers to swords to two-handed swords, with your typical bows, arrows, magic staves, and shields as well. Your AI controlled party members (as you can only really control one person at a time) can usually take care of themselves, as the Tactics settings in the menu make them easy to control. You can assign a Mage to be a Healer or Damager by default, or you can customize for both or something else at will. Plenty of unlockable talents and the lack of a real level cap make this a game you want to keep leveling up on, but, as sad as it is, enemies do not respawn, unless of course you encounter a glitch like I did where a certain boss respawned over and over again. A somewhat small inventory and the lack of a banking system are somewhat frustrating when deciding what items to save for later and what to keep for an impending use, but backpacks made readily available increase the amount of space you can hold, and a merchant at your always-accessible base camp will happily take your items off your hands until you want to buy them back- at an increased price. Boss fights are actually challenging, especially the massive dragons you face, and as I said, the finishing move animations are amazing to watch. Unlike other "Quest" based games of recent years, the main quest line of Dragon Age Origins is quite long, easily spanning hours and hours. The first playthrough could easily take fifty hours to beat.
Play and Replay Value:
If OMG-OVER NINE THOUSAND!!! could be expressed in stars, I would have put that. With the mentioned six different introductions to see, each quest having multiple endings, and the main game having several endings as well, this game will keep you coming back for more. In one file, you may prioritize combat over the ability to persuade others, or stealing over the ability to make potions whenever you want to. You may be totally good in one playthrough, a jerk in another, and somewhere in between in the next. You might decide to have your character fall in love with one of your party members in one file, while having another do so in the next. Certain options in conversation allow for different dialogue to be experienced than another, letting you see each one of the different outcomes of your decision making with each different play. The fact that dungeons are often long and can be done in any order you wish (as the level of enemies there changes according to your own) lets you freely change up the order you want to play them in, and getting the party members there as well. Once again, the entirety of the plot in the game is based on decision making, where one conversation can either result in an exchange of goods, a persuasion into a handout of information, or the death of the NPC you're speaking to. You can really decide to attack and kill a surprisingly large amount of NPCs with names and backstories in this game. It's awesome.
Overall: 9.5 out of 10
I can easily say this is one of the top five RPGs I've played in this new generation of gaming, and it didn't take long to get me hooked. The story isn't hard to understand, the characters aren't hard to relate to (most of them are quite fun to talk to in the game and have real personalities), and a variety of weapons and talents and accessories at your disposal make this game fun as hell. The amount of choices in this game is awe-inspiring, as in one file, you could be a shady rogue that jumps at the chance to kill with twin daggers, while another file could have you playing as your knight in shining armor, using sword and shield to defeat the evils of the world. As far as add-on content goes, a lot of copies of the game were shipped with redemption codes for The Stone Prisoner downloadable content, with some new weapons, new areas, and a new party member: Shale the golem (who has a hilariously bitter attitude toward humans... and pigeons). Another code in the same package gives you a free Blood Dragon Plate Armor, easily one of the best armors in the game. All in all, I have to say this game is a must for not just any RPG fan, but any adventure fan, or any fan of a great game with a lot of choices. In the end, it's up to you to save the world, and whether you'll go on with your adventure or simply go down a hero is up to you.
I'd say 9.5 is generous, but I agree with most of that. It was an enjoyable game...
- Soul Reaper
Number of posts : 306
Age : 28
Location : Nebraska
Registration date : 2009-06-28
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