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This is an expansion pack for Dragon Age Origins. Your Warden Player character - or an Orlesian outsider - has been assigned as Warden Commander, with his/ her own Arldom (kingdom). The game starts by the player beating back dark spawn from their new base of operations, vigil's Keep. You begin with a Grey Warden recruit who hasn't yet experienced the joining, and as you progress you meet up with a mage named Anders. He has some similarities to Alistair (from Dragon Age origins) but Anders is an apostate who has escaped from the Circle. When you meet him, he is attacking Dark spawn, which have killed his Templar guards (he is later blamed for this). The attack is punctuated by a maniacal dwarf who blows up a section of the Keep (later you can purchase explosives from him). After journeying up the tower, you hear a talking dark spawn, and have to rescue the Keep's Seneschal from his attackers. Afterward, the King / Queen of Ferelden (depending on your choices in the previous game) will visit with reinforcements for the Keep. You will be charged with rebuilding the Wardens and governing your land on behalf of the wardens. You will also meet Nathaniel Howe, son of Arl Howe (a corrupt nobleman, killed in Origins) - you have the option to recruit him into the Wardens. Oghren from Origins also turns up - I wasn't too fussed about him in the first game though, and would have preferred Leilana or Zevran. Anders is a great companion, funny and dark, who loves cats; you have the option to gift him a kitten, which he names Ser-Pounce-A-Lot. As well as some cute interactions, the cat has the ability to raise dead party members. You can gain three more companions later on; a cheerful dwarf in the Legion of the Dead; a psychopathic lady elf I wish I hadn't bothered to recruit; and a Spirit of Justice. As well as the ongoing battle against the Dark spawn, there is the conundrum of the talking Dark spawn leader, a missing Grey Warden and human caravans that are being slaughtered in the local area. You can pick up quests from various NPCs as well as options to complete companion quests which will make your companions more loyal, as well as giving them special abilities. This add on is a nice size, and didn't feel like a rip off.
I adored Dragon Age: Origins and when Awakening was announced, I purchased it readily the day it was released, though I was gobsmacked at the price. Once again the writers at BioWare never cease to amaze. The lore of Origins returns in Awakening and the Warden can explore an entirely new arling--Amaranthine, the land that once belonged to the treacherous Arl Howe. Because I loved the companions in Origins so much it took a little while to get used to the five new ones in Awakening, but after a little while of playing, you get used to them enough to start getting attached to them in the same way as those from Origins. The one to watch out for is most definitely Nathaniel--he ended up being my favourite, and is particularly well written. As for the storyline, the Warden is tasked with removing the Darkspawn from Amaranthine that have began attacking the surface world in large numbers for seemingly no reason. There are new characters, new enemies, new bosses and a fair amount of entertaining side quests, and for quite a small expansion pack which can easily be completed in two to three days, Awakening is decent! HOWEVER, be warned! There are some--and I'm not over exaggerating--game breaking glitches in this game, particularly in the Black Marsh quest and during the assault on the city of Amaranthine. That is why I advise that you save often before starting these quests, and certain glitches can leave players unable to complete the quest at all. But for big Dragon Age fans like myself, I recommend this expansion pack to them if not for the new companions and for the new areas to explore. The higher level enemies are challenging, the quests are entertaining, and the new armours are downright swanky!
Dragon Age Origins: Awakening is an add-on to the original Dragon Age Origins, so not really a full-blown sequel, but you're still looking at around 20 hours of new content, which is more than you get with some full games these days. There's not really too much I can say here that I didn't already say about Dragon Age without spoiling the plot, so this is going to be somewhat brief. To be truthful, the start of the game for me was very, very off-putting. I imported my hero from the original Dragon Age, who was clad in the unique DLC Blood Dragon armour. Unfortunately, what Bioware don't tell you is that some DLC items don't carry across into the add-on, so my guy started the game completely naked, which is utterly ridiculous. It wasn't until about an hour into the game that I came across my first set of bog-standard armour. This is a major failing and I really can't fathom why it was done. At least give the player *something* to wear. However, that's about the game's only failing. The game proper is excellent, drawing on everything that made the original great, and with a few extra status points and a LOT of extra loot, you can't really fault it. In my experience, I found the game to be much easier than the first. Cash is incredibly forthcoming, and I was only really at risk of death 3 times during the game - I seemed to be almost invincible for the most part, which I suppose is due to me bringing a fairly hardy guy over from the original game. I suppose Bioware have to try and get the game right for people who start the game with a new character, but I would imagine that most people will be hauling a character over from the first game. The game is set in a completely new area with 3 or 4 major locations to visit, plus a few side-quest areas. Enemies are much as they were in the first game, but boss fights are now incredible, with much bigger and more spectacular enemies to fight, and these battles are really where you will be tested, but the rewards are great, and it feels immensely satisfying when you do get the better of these encounters. Overall, I'd say this is a very worthy add on to the original game, which for me was a simply amazing affair. For the price, you simply can't go wrong with the amount of extra content you get. However, why the game chooses to strip you (literally!) of any DLC from the first game is simply mind-boggling, and makes the first hour or so a bit of a joke. That aside though, it's really a must buy for anyone who liked the original.
I loved every minute of my time with Dragon Age, so when this expansion was released even though I was offended at the price I sucked it up and bought it. Right from the start I have to tell you I had problems. A lot of my items didn't work in Awakenings, so for example my warrior in the Blood Dragon Armour appeared as being naked. Then there are the crashes. In only 5 hours of play the game froze up on me 4 times, and the autosave wasn't on top of things so each time I lost a good chunk of progress. The crashes lessened as I played through Awakenings but didn't disappear completely. There were also numerous bugs and glitches, cutscenes wouldn't activate, and I would randomly spawn somewhere else. All in all it was just annoying that the game should be hampered by such poor quality control. As to the game itself - if you made a sacrifice at the end of Origins (no spoilers, but you know what I mean) the game ignores this, and you just carry on which just destroys all sense of continuity. You only get one member of your old team back and it was far from one of my favourites. There was no proper dialogue with the new teammates which definitely affected how I cared about them (that is to say - I didn't) I loved the characters in DA:O so it was a shame this was given a backseat. The gameplay itself was good, and there are a fair number of sidequests and such but all in all I completed everything in less than 12 hours, so definitely NOT good value for money. If you're a big Dragon Age fan, of course you will buy this, but get it on disc so you can trade it in afterwards, as it simply isn't worth the money in my opinion. I was definitely disappointed.
I have just compleed this expansion for the first time, and have rather mixed feelings about it. I absolutely loved the original Dragon Age game, in fact I would go so far as to say that it was one of my favourite games so far, but I feel that this expansion feels almost.. incomplete? Perhaps I was expecting more of a sequel rather than an expansion, which of course it isn't, but whilst the storyline feels very thrilling and exciting, it seems to end before it really began properly, almost as though it was rushed. There are new characters introduced in this new campaign, as well as a familliar face, however I didn't really feel like I had the time to get to know them all in depth like we could in Origins. The game allows you to either import a character from Origins or begin a new character in the form of an Orlesian warden, my own character was a human rogue noble from Origins, so I am unsure how a new character will affect the gameplay from a new perspective, I however liked the ability to learn new expanding details from the original game involving both your own character and other companions. This however disappointed me slightly, as there is almost no mention of your previous companions (at least in my own play) with a few exceptions depending on what decisions you made in Origins. The gameplay itself is as good quality as it was in Origins, it is a nice familliar system which adds lots of new abilities, a higher level cap and some new specializations for each class. This is not a bad game by any means, and I did greatly enjoy it and will definitely replay it again to achieve the different endings as I'm sure that like Origins, there are different twists and turns depending on what choices you make. Perhaps I will feel more satisifed after playing this again, but my first impression just feels that it shouldn't really be priced at around £30 for what was essentially, a campaign that could be completed in a day. All in all, not at all a bad expansion, just feels a little short. :(