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Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360)

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Genre: Role-playing / Video Game for Xbox 360 / ESRB Rating: Rating Pending / Release Date: 2009-11-06 / Published by Electronic Arts

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    17 Reviews
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      07.01.2013 21:26
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      Dark, intelligent game incorporating moral complexity and politics. Not that many dragons.

      This was a Christmas Present and I absolutely love it. There are six origin stories, Mage, Noble Dwarf, Commoner Dwarf, Noble Elf, Commoner Elf, and Noble Human. I played a Mage, then a City (commoner) Elf.

      The kingdom of Ferelden is being attacked by dragons and dark spawn. There are some strong underlying themes of oppression and slavery, with elves who live among humans relegated to ghettos, and non noble dwarves restricted to the crime ridden slums of Dust Town.

      The fear is that Mages are likely to be possessed by demons, or that they will engage in blood magic (necromancy) and in an effort to prevent this, Mages are kept in extremely restricted communities known as 'Circles' where they are guarded by Templars. The templars are backed by the Chantry, the equivalent of our Church, and have a great deal of power over Magi. Some templars are represented as noble, pious men, others as power hungry zealots. Mages are subject to many rituals, from the Harrowing, a test of their ability to resist evil spirits, to the 'Tranquil Solution' where troublesome or dangerous mages are cut off from the Fade (spirit world), in a process that results in a person becoming docile and emotionless; it's the spiritual equivalent of a lobotomy.

      After the origin story, you are recruited into the Grey Wardens, an organisation that was founded in order to combat the periodic Dark spawn threat. At the Grey Wardens camp, you find the King and his general, Teryn Loghain, at loggerheads about the proper way to conduct a forthcoming battle. The King is young and idealistic; his general is more experienced and realistic. After undergoing the joining, the ceremony which completes your induction into the Grey Wardens, the Dark spawn attack. You and your fellow warden, a sarcastic and charming ex Templar named Alistair, are sent on a mission away from the fighting.

      After the battle, a near escape and a dark betrayal, you have to travel Ferelden to gather allies to fight against the pretender to the throne and the insidious Dark spawn threat.

      I am a big fan of Bioware games, like Never Winter Nights and Mass Effect, and this game measured up in terms of plot, game play and dialogue. The characters are genuinely witty, their loyalty quests are intriguing and it continues the LGBT friendly theme that Bioware is so known for. I prefer combat as a swordsperson - magic is a little frustrating as it requires so many steps. Would definitely recommend.

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      16.06.2012 19:38
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      Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood

      Thanks to some impressive FMV trailers for Dragon Age: Origins, it made its way straight to the top of my wish-list, even though it shared absolutely no gameplay whatsoever. It had several original looking characters taking on hordes of 'Darkspawn' and eventually a ginormous dragon - taken down in some real fancy cinematic style. Soon enough, later trailers displayed actual gameplay which was oddly familiar but in a good way. It was instantly clear that Bioware had stuck with what they know as the battle system is reminiscent of the Star Wars: KOTOR games (the original developed by Bioware) and practically turn based with the illusion of restriction free combat. However it was the setting that made this one stand out from all the rest - the setting. No guns, computers or vehicles, just swords, demons and blood.. lots of it, in a dark, medieval world full of mythical creatures and a solid journey based story to keep you focused.

      "Maker Help Us All" (Plot)
      After some graven images, etched onto walls, depict the fall of heaven by the human mages who sought to usurp it. Instead they tainted it with sin, thus turning into foul beasts, the first of the Darkspawn. These creatures soared in number and set course for creating an army, led by its relentless leader ,the Arch-Demon. The scattered armies of men, elves and dwarves fell sharpish to the marauding Darkspawn, until the Grey Wardens made their mark on history. Only those strong enough to maintain the taint of the darkspawn within them, took the battle to the Darkspawn, pushed them back and quelled their numbers.. or at least they did 4 Centuries ago.. The events in the game take place when a new army has quickly formed, an army that is ever growing and menacing. The start of the games is particularly enjoyable as it offers different races and origin - Human, Dwarf or Elf - Noble, Mage or Commoner. The leader of the GW's Duncan, recruits your highly customisable character during the events of your origin story. You are then made to go through a secret ritual to join the GW's - but lets not spoil the fun. Should you get far enough, you'll race through a wealth of environmental beauty, taking on DS, bandits and other surprising foes.

      "Know what I do to relieve tension? I polish the ol' weapon" (Gameplay & Customizing)
      As the combat revolves around a third person view, turn based, hack and slash fights, the characters and dialogue are crucial.. or at least they are for me because the fights aren't the most exciting as you have a set number of attacks to choose from (to upgrade and enhance with buffs) and once you get to grips with your moves, the battles tend to depend on hoe strong your armour and weaponry are, not how much skill you possess. However, the paths you take when levelling mould your player to suit your gaming preferences with 'trees' to go through (like choosing double handed weaponry, duel weapons, sword and shield or archery) along with all the abilities that are - passive, sustained or must be activated. There are also typical stats you must personally upgrade such as dexterity, strength, magic, cunning, constitution and willpower. Then theres the enchanting of weapons, adding 'runes' to combine elemental damage, stat bonus' or special resistances... and of course weapons have stronger tiers as you progress with steel weapons for initial equipment soon being sold for the much tougher dragon-bone cuirass, drake-skin helm or silverite spear. This is what makes the game so expansive, regardless of a limited number of attacking tactics (which can also be set personally so you can control the other 2 AI characters in your party). Considering the massive amount of modification involved, I couldn't care less about spamming the X button..

      "A putrid half-eaten hare is not something a woman wants to find in her unmentionables." (Characters & Dialogue) Because of Bioware's strong Role Playing roots, DA:O manages to include the same amount of genuinely charismatic personalities as older titles, but doing so in far more modern graphics and varying gameplay. The ever fluctuating conversations may drive off casual gamers playing sharply for under and hour sessions, but for the (i'm loathed to say for lack of a better word) 'hardcore' gamer, the chit-chat is for the most part, very entertaining. With a rather large cast of recruitable members (some most be found, persuaded or have prerequisites met) DA:O has a lot to offer. To start you befriend Alistair, an ex templar-soldier who provides the majority of the comic relief and can either be your annoyingly charming best chum or a smooth-talking big headed love interest. Soon after you encounter Morrigan, my favourite of all the 10 characters - a 'witch of the wilds' and a she's a bit of a b*tch. Theres a revoltingly funny, axe swinging dwarf companion in Oghren. You've got your loveable mut wardog, a mage, a Qunari warrior, a bard, an assassin, a stone golem (DLC) all with fantastic voice acting - something I can't stress enough, is a rare commodity in video games. The big cast also makes for further varied styles of play, alternative conversation routes and fascinating subplots. You can romance a handful of your mates, straight or gay but not bigamous because thats too naughty apparently:} What is always amusing is when a conversation breaks out when wandering around as you'll either hear you companions slinging insults or sharing stories or even get into intense subplots when the most innocent of heroines is spattered in blood whilst a grotesque dwarf may be sparkling clean.

      "We now have a dog and Alistair is still the dumbest one in the party." (Environments & Music)
      I seriously enjoyed the freedom in this game because although it had slightly linear levels to trek through, it also had a world map to figure out where you should explore next. It has the giant cities based around castles and forts, overgrown forests inhabited by elves, werewolves and vicious wildlife, underground caves and crevices taken by a community of dwarves, ruins of religious importance full of traps and snowflakes, the lot. Admittedly though, the way you navigate the province of Ferelden, is scripted a tad predictably - as you must go to each landmark place, find something, kill someone or just complete the main quest line. I never really noticed the music during fight scenes unless someone was being a stealthy git so there were no clashing of swords or squelches of blood staining the ground. However during the conversations and cut scenes, the soundtrack shone and made the setting mysterious yet inviting. There is one particular track that stands out which features some heavenly vocals and seems to be the main theme of the game (pretty sure it won awards). Most surprising though was the song in the credits - 'This Is War' by the popular progressive-emo-rock group, 30 Seconds To Mars, which isn't really my style but it was a nice song anyway if a bit out of place (despite the title).

      I'd like to add that during the time I purchased this game, I had one of the worst flu's ever, couldn't sleep, eat or stop puking out of both mouths but this game kept me occupied and was still enjoyable despite being completely bed-ridden. It was comforting to have such a diverse (and quite long) story to jump into and get on with it. So yeah, a decent game that you can play whilst dry heaving or otherwise.

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        30.03.2012 10:53
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        Still worth picking up, especially as you can get it cheaper now

        Introduction
        __________
        I'll be honest, ever since Neverwinter Nights, I've been a bit of a Bioware fangirl. When they started releasing the sliding scale morality games that they have built their current empire on, I was right on board. I still think Knights of the Old Republic is one of the best adaptations of the Star Wars universe.

        Dragon Age Origins is a return of sorts to Bioware's D&D roots. They wanted a game that reflected the past environments they were so comfortable in with Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Old School European RPG. Swords, myths and magic, Tolkienesque fantasy.

        I'm not really sure it was the right move.

        Characters and Story
        _________________
        You have more options as a starting player than many of Bioware's recent games have allowed you. You may start as a dwarf, an elf or a human and additionally some of the starting zones have alternative options. The dwarf origins story for example, allows to to begin as nobility or as a commoner. Whichever option you choose, you will play through the starting zone until events lead you to cross paths with Duncan of the Grey Wardens and eventually to join him, where the game 'proper' begins and all routes feed into the same path. NPCs from your starting zone may pop up later in the game, and depending on your choices, your reactions to them may be friends or even adversaries.

        Each ally you find in the story has a different background, they story is revealed through interactions at camp, which you can access between 'missions'. You travel together attempting to stem the flow of Darkspawn that threaten to overwhelm the world after a failed attempt at a military campaign leaves the traditional Grey Warden defences almost nonexistant.

        These ally characters are not always obvious in their motivations., in fact sometimes it's not obvious why they stick around at all. They have a basic alignment, but you curry their favour with the responses you make to their stories, your actions in the field (which they will react to) and gifts, which you will unearth throughout the world.

        Eventually you must face the big bad, and make choices based on your relationships fostered in the meantime.

        You can interact with NPCs and storylines at each city, offering to take on missions and quests and favour with the characters in the town. The scripts relating to these quests are well written, the characters are a mixed bag of good and bad or somewhere in between, and unlike KOTOR or Mass Effect it's sometimes hard to see what reaction any of your responses will garner.

        Some of the ally characters are missable, you can kill Wynne by mistake by responding to her a certain way at the mage tower, and Sten can literally be ignored. If you never speak to him, you never recruit him.

        Most of the allies are worth picking up however, even if you never take them out with you, Zevran alone is worth it for his innuendo and wit. My favourite ally however, is Shale, a bitingly sharp golem who is overfond of sarcasm and killing pigeons. He is available through the Stone Prisoner Downloadable Content, which grants access to a new quest and the ally. He is hilarious, and I recommend you pick him up. His voice acting is superb.

        Gameplay
        ________
        You are accompanied into the world by two or three of your companions. You can choose which come with you whenever you leave camp. Whenever you act in the world, choosing to take sides or helping/killing someone, they will respond. Morrigan, for example despises anything that cannot stand up for itself and will chastise you for helping them, while Alistair will never refuse help to anyone, but will often become soppy or confused about the outcome.

        Unlike previous games in this genre by Bioware, there is no scale for your morality, the choices you make will instead simply effect how people respond to you, the options available throughout the game, and eventually the outcome of the story. If you become despicable enough for some allies they will either leave, or in some cases actually attack you.

        During combat you can issue orders to your allies, queue up spells or abilities, make use of specialised class abilities and use items. The differences between the classes is largely minimal in terms of combat options, although stealing and spell casting are obviously dependant on your class. Others are largely a combination of melee, long range or supportive skills, with no discernible advantage or disadvantage for each class.

        Your class will effect how people react to you however, Mages, for example are feared in the world as magic is considered an unclean disease. Since elves are considered second-class citizens, an elven Mage doesn't have it easy. Spells can be combo'd though, creating interesting and unexpected mixes that often engage with the environment. However, nothing alerts you to this, if you're playing a spellcaster, learn to see your surroundings as an opportunity, rather than setting.

        You upgrade your class, and that of your allies by assigning points, if you've ever played an RPG before, this will be nothing new, it doesn't break any virgin ground.

        Using the camera zooming feature often allows you to spot danger before it spots you, also having the sound on will alert you to Darkspawn since they make so much noise it's a wonder they ever ambush anything.


        Highlights
        ________
        The voice acting is exceptional. I cannot stress that enough, coming through the era of games where voice acting was basically a novelty and we were subjected to appalling, terrible dubs over Japanese games, it's a pleasure to say that they are now considered a viable career addition for self-respecting actors.
        Joining the cast for DA:O is Tim Russ (Tuvok) Kate Mulgre (Cpt. Janeway) and Claudia Black (Aeryn Sun, Vala Mal Doran) all of whom do a brilliant job of bringing their characters to life.

        The game also does a great job of providing you with enough options to really have to stop and think about what the consequences of your actions might be. It leads to some intense game play and some real "What just happened??" moments.

        The other thing this game should be commended on is it's lack of fear when it comes to exploring mature themes. You have the opportunity to explore romantic relationships with a few of the allies, and there are same sex as well as hetrosexual options. A couple of the characters are bi-sexual.
        This may just seem like pandering to the 'mature game audience' but actually with the end of the world possibly nigh it makes a lot of sense that your characters would seek a measure of comfort. Choosing to pursue a relationship actually effects the story in significant ways depending on who you choose. Bioware's choice to add the homosexual element actually caused a lot of controversy and although they came under fire they made a statement and stuck to their guns. Their line was, essentially, why shouldn't there be these relationships, we don't have a compelling reason to ignore the chance your chance your character might be gay.

        Also, before you ask, yes, there are sex scenes. That 18 doesn't sit on the box for no good reason, it's certainly not all that blood.

        The other highlight worth mentioning is that because the plot and choices/morality system works the way it does there is a serious amount of re-playability here. You'd have to try really hard to play the same game twice.


        Shortcomings
        ___________
        The blood is an interesting point actually. I don't think I'll play this game again for a while. That decision has nothing to do with the playability, the writing or the sex. It has to do with the graphics.
        When I first bought an Xbox 360, it came with Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and I never finished it. I think due largely in part to the graphics. When game designers try too hard to make textures as lifelike as possible I struggle to enjoy the aesthetic I think. This game is dark. I don't just mean that in terms of the plot and the choices you're forced to make, although dark certainly is one way to describe them. I mean that sometimes I have to shut the curtain to play this game. Everything looks a little rusty, there are too many dark tunnels where you can't see the entrance in front of you, the water is murky and often indistinguishable from the rock....and so on, it's dark.
        The blood doesn't help. In an effort to make combat more realistic or whatever, bloodspatter has become something of this game's trademark. Don't get me wrong, it's not grindhouse, but look at the box art, it's right there on the front cover. What happens in battle is that you often end up looking like three slightly rusty mud monsters that have been dragged through a hedge backwards...and their dog. (Sorry, can't leave the dog behind, he's too damn cute) and even the dog is brown.

        I really wish someone would just turn on the lights, and then remind Bioware that while they have excellent rendered graphics and their lip synch algorithm is very very impressive, their overall aesthetic is reminiscent of the old early 90's rendered 3d models, with imported textures. In truth, we're just not there yet. I get what they were going for, it just doesn't work for me.

        Overview
        ________
        This game is now subject to two sequels and a ton of downloadable content. That means you can pick it up very reasonably priced indeed. I would still recommend you buy it. It may be Bioware's weakest offering in my eyes but you may disagree, Jade Empire was so unpolished you spend one scene having a conversation with a barrel, my point is, it's still Bioware, and it's still a bloody good story.

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          24.01.2012 11:44
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          A++++ --BioWare's done it again!

          As a huge BioWare fan, I eagerly followed the development of Origins from May 2009 up until it was released in November of the same year and I have gladly placed it on my list of 'Favourite videogames of all time'.

          To create a completely new world, new lore, history, religions and characters can't be easy. But somehow BioWare do so consistently, and do so better than any game developer out there. The world of Thedas and the kingdom of Ferelden, the country in which Origins is set, is immersed in it's own incredible history and corruption and is so emotionally engaging that it's hard to stop playing once you get fully stuck into the main story. In addition to being beautifully voice acted, Origins is filled to the brim with gorgeously designed and fantastically written characters, though the most impressive characters are most definitely the companions your player character (the newly conscripted Grey Warden) can travel with during his/her travels. Each one has their own useful set of skills and each one is wildly different in their views, personalities, likes and dislikes, and by bringing out different companions to fight alongside your Warden each time you will find that they are prone to having deep and quite often humorous conversations with eachother.

          The origin stories that play out at the beginning of your Warden's playthrough that determine their race, class and backstory pave the way to giving your character their own unique personality that ensures that you will eventually become attached to them enough to care about what happens to them and how they react to the world around them. And, like with all BioWare games, there are romances to be pursued with four of the companions, each with their own wonderfully written dialogue and quirks unique to them.

          Sadly the one thing I can complain about when it comes to Origins is the combat. Though after a while it becomes familiar and easy to use, it is nevertheless clunky and somewhat boring and for those that enjoy playing as the magic-wielding mages, you will unfortunately be left disappointed at how difficult and ultimately unsatisfying it is to play as a mage.

          That being said, I have spent hours upon hours playing this game and continue to play it and enjoy it even now, more than two years after its release. BioWare most definitely hit the nail on the head with this game, and it's almost perfect reviews and awards won for it's spectacular writing are testament to the hard work put in by the developers and the writers of this fantastic game. There are a few hiccups here and there, but all in all, it is a masterpiece of the RPG genre and believe me, it is well worth playing again and again, as a lot of the time you will realise that in a game as large as this one, you probably missed something during your first run of the game!

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          04.11.2011 17:33

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          Skyrim is out in a bit. Spend a bit more on that instead.

          Bioware are quite rightly the kings of this sort of RPG. An enormous amount of effort has gone into establishing a believable fictional world, with different factions and races each with their own history.
          The main story revolves around repelling The Blight - an invasion of 'Darkspawn' (baddies). You are the chosen one as usual - this time being called a Warden.

          The world that you explore is detailed and varied, ranging from cold mountain tundra to verdant forests. You meet a lot of interesting people and kill a lot of them, and even explore the spirit realms.

          The combat system is great. You can pause the game during a fight, select a member of your party and choose a special ability to use. Spells can be combined to great effect, yet I found the combat geared more towards casters. Indeed my best party consisted of casters and one tank.

          So you go on adventures in a well-realised fantasy world, kill monsters, loot treasure and save the day. What more could you want?
          Bioware obviously thought the answer to this question was 'More boring, lengthy conversations, forced "diplomatic" gameplay', and penalties for not sucking up to NPCs.

          Like in Mass Effect, I have to babysit each member of my party. Some of them may disagree with me slapping peasants around, or stealing from peasants, or leaving peasants to the mercy of monsters.
          If I upset them too much then they leave, and all the work I've put into levelling them and scoring good gear is wasted.
          This is too punitive to be any sort of fun, so you end up giving gifts to your party members, asking about their background, and generally being neutral in any encounter.
          Again, like in Mass Effect, gaming stops being fun and has become a second job.

          And then there's all the chatting. Exposition is fine. But if I have to go through ten minutes of dialog before I can kill a single monster or molest a single peasant I'm going to get bored quickly. Thankfully you can skip all of this but then you don't really know what's going on. Too many cutscenes of boring conversations.

          Finally, Dragon Age railroads you too much. You can choose to be a nice guy or a nasty guy, but you end up saving the world either way so what's the point? One mistake in a conversation choice is enough to doom your whole party, and I found myself reloading often.

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          12.04.2011 01:55

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          A great new series which I see many new games for which will improve on the gameplay.

          Dragon Age: Origins was released on 3rd November 2009 and was developed by Bioware and published by EA.
          In Dragon Age: Origins you play as a Grey Warden who has to save the world from the evil Darkspawn Blight. You start by choosing which race you want to be. You are given a choice of three. They are human, dwarf and elf. You then choose your origin story which are for humans; human noble and mage. For dwarf; dwarf commoner and dwarf noble. And for elf; mage, dalish elf and city elf. When you choose your origin you can choose your class which are mage, rouge or warrior.
          Depending on which origin and race you choose then the different your experience will be. If you are an elf then you will be looked down upon by many people in the game. But if you choose the human noble then people will respect you.
          Not giving to much away about the story you are one of the last Grey Wardens who has to stop the Darkspawn threat which is going to contaminate the world. You go around the country of Fereldan trying to recruit different groups of people into your army.
          Now gameplay wise the game has its flaws. The combat feels slow. While it is totally bearable but I would prefer it to have a bit more speed or strategy. The ability to equip your companions with equipment you collect is very good and makes you feel like you are really into the game. You meet many companions during the game a few of which you can enter a romance with. You choose 3 to go with you into the world at a time and they help you overcome difficult enemies.
          The conversation system is a list if statements that appear and you choose one but it is not voiced. It is not a big problem but some will find this a nuisance.
          Overall I think that this is a great RPG and I think that it is a amazing new fledging series which will have many good years ahead of it.

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          05.02.2011 15:23

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          Amazing game that will keep you playing for years!

          Dragon Age: Origins is simply one of the most immersive video games of its generation. To experience everything in this game you would need to play it through many, many times. The over arching story may be a by the numbers fantasy yarn but the engrossing aspect comes from the individual characters within your party and their relationship with you, each other and the world around them. You can build your own character to great detail across race, class, gender etc and this will affect how you are perceived in the world. Conversations with other party members and NPCs can go dozens of different ways depending on how you want to respond. Many other games use this system but in Dragon Age you actually feel like your choices will have massive repercussions across the world (which they often do) and beyond (which they also do if you upload your save game into Dragon Age 2). The inventory system can be overwhelming at first but the in game tutorial are helpful is this regards. The combat system is simple to use with a spell, special attack or potion no more than two clicks away.

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          25.01.2011 18:40
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          Awesome RPG, Great Gameplay Time, I Highly Recommend It.

          My journey with this game starts about a year ago really, from a recommendation from a friend who has similar tastes to me in games (and music for that matter), however the only platform I had at that time was PC and I'm not a big PC gamer, especially when it comes to RPG's. And so after acquiring an XBOX 360 and many hints before Christmas - my boyfriend gets it me for Christmas.
          Dragon Age: Origins is a plot heavy RPG, available on PC, XBOX 360 and PS3. With it's roots firmly planted in Bio-Wares camp, it's pretty much what you'd expect from that. EA however are obviously improving with their game choices and this shows through them being involved with this game.
          The game ranges from about £10-£15 new now (Jan. 2011) which is cheap considering you'll get at least 30-40hr game play out of it on one play through (depending on your personal skills of course).

          Normal plot applies really - evil lurks (Darkspawn - which are basically Orcs, though there are a few different kinds) driven by the rise of an greater evil (in this case the ArchDemon) and you have to stop it, but you must recruit armies to support you first. Sounds simple but it's anything but with kings, egos and interracial disputes going on. Doesn't anyone know the end of the world is on the doorstep if the blight has it's way? Apparently not.
          In the box, there's just the usual disc, booklet and one or two promo leaflets which may or may not interest you.
          The booklet has the usual stuff in, so if you're pretty used to an RPG system - it's probably that not interesting as you'll already know how the system works but it maybe of use to a beginner or if you want to look up something specific. No artwork or main character profiles, just controls, definitions and how to use things. The basics.

          -------------
          Notes before you play the game:
          + This game has an 18 rating for strong bloody violence. I personally would also add for those parents reading this there is some very mild swearing occasionally (the Dwarves are usually the culprits of this).
          + Dragon Age: Origins is a 1 Player Game.
          + It takes 17MB to save the game.
          + Downloadable Content is available. (More Information/Review below).

          -------------
          So lets start playing the game! Starting a new game sets off a multitude of decisions to make, before you even start actually playing the game.
          Character creating is highly detailed and it really is the beginning of you making decisions about your character and your journey through the game.

          GENDER is obviously the first of these, it doesn't change any stats or abilities but it does change (obviously) the body shape and facial features (females can have eyeshadow too). Not only this it changes the dialogue in the game, and the plots - people treat men and women slightly differently - meaning there are different out comes.
          Next is your characters RACE of which the options are Human, Elf or Dwarf this again will have an effect on how people treat you and see you, and it will change the plot and out come of different things. Aren't interracial tensions great? Each race also has certain natural capabilities.

          After you've chosen you're race you will be given the option to choose from two BACKGROUNDS of the race you have chosen, this determines where you start the the game, this is you're "origin" and it will continue to effect you're character in different ways throughout the game.
          Last but not least of the multiple choice options is CLASS. Warrior, Mage or Rogue. Each class as different benefits, stats and determines what you're character can learn during the game. For Mages, this also determines your background story (see above).

          After this is time to take on the task of fiddling with your appearance, there are a lot of options here, sliders to play with. Mouth width, depth, height, colour - I'm not even going to attempt to right it all down, but suffice to say you can make a lot of different looks and spend a lot of time making your character look just how you want it to. If you're not too interested in that - no worries you can choose a predetermined appearance.
          Of course, don't forget to choose a fitting name for your character.

          Personally I thought this section was excellent, I loved that so much effected the game before you'd even started. There was a lot of thought and background put into this and it really does add to the excitement of playing the game more than once.
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          In game you'll start off at one of the 6 different starting points, depending on your choices before the start of the game - this part is particularly good at helping you to immerse yourself in your character and it's surroundings. You'll learn a lot about your characters people and culture if you ask around, and have a strong understanding of your characters background and place in the world.
          Along your travels you can gain up to 8 companions of different backgrounds and races, with very different personalities. You can have casual conversations with your party members anywhere you're not in battle to get to know them and most have an interesting story. They will also talk to each other if you're wondering around in relative safety which can be entertaining and comical.
          One of these companions is a dog or more accurately a Marbari, which is a war dog - although you can't interact too much with him, he is one of the strongest members of your party in some situations and is fiercely loyal to you always - which is always good in a game where you can turn your own party members against you if you make decisions they don't agree with.

          You can also have romances between you and you're party members, if the opportunity presents itself. Praise for the openness about sex, praise for the characters keeping their underwear on.
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          Dragon Age isn't a combat heavy game - although there is plenty of it, the plot takes the larger percentage of the game. Combat is easy to to get the hang of and you'll soon pick up the controls. Unfortunately the enemies and combats don't seem to have a gradient increasing difficulty, it switches around from easy to moderate quickly and of course to hard - so if you're not prepared for this, you may be taken by surprise but all in all it's not a bad point to the game as it keeps you on your toes.
          One of the best things to be put into the game is the step away from the mirco-managing your party - they do have tactics slots which you can assign different actions to when certain criteria are met (for example - heal/drink health potion when health is at 25%) but in battle they just get on with it (including the actions you may have set for them). This leaving you to concentrate on your own character with the peace of mind that you have already prepared your party for battle and any eventualities that you can think of.

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          The world the story takes place is well thought out with many (not at all subtle) parallels to the real world with it's class and racial prejudices. There are petty thieves and much bigger criminals although, I have to say some of these don't have such detailed motivations and so they don't really come up to par with the rest of the story lines.
          It's pretty easy to navigate the world map and every place and person has their own background, story and motivations, so travelling around and talking to people isn't such a chore and actually adds the game plot, even if in a small way - just knowing more about what the world is like.

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          Missions/Quests are wide and varied, so you won't get bored doing the same thing for hours on end or doing a seemingly-never-ending grinding quest. They have your big awe inspiring missions to delivering messages and collecting items. There are plenty of small side quests to go at if your in the mood for people pleasing. You can take on as much or as little as you can handle.

          The bigger quests will require you to make some huge decisions about the nature of your character and what happens in the game. Your decisions will have a huge impact on the world, people, plot and the final outcome of the game. So choose carefully. As stressful as it is - for most of these big decisions there's an achievement to be had. However also be aware that you can alienate your party members by being too good/nice or too evil/nasty - they can and will turn against you and maybe try to kill you. Just another nice affect you have on practically everything around you. Which is - scary but also makes for awesome plot and gameplay.
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          The graphics are pretty good, perhaps not the best graphics out there, but they are
          times when some facial features look a little off/weird - but most games have this in at least one of the facial features so can't really complain and call it out on that one. Although I honestly think they could have taken more time on the animation of the dog, that seems a slight after thought.
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          Sounds/music are great, music sets the atmosphere of a place very well, especially when somewhere creepy like the orphanage. Sounds are great, if you get up close to a closed door you can often hear the sounds of things going on, on the other side of the door even muffled conversations.
          Voices are well done too - but there is a bit of a lack of accents, Humans are quite British, whereas elves and dwarves have a generalised American accent to them. Which is a bit of a shame really.
          The real tragedy is that your character is not voice - apart from the occasional battle cry and instructional bytes of information "can't do that" drives me insane. Other than that, it's all text for your character - which isn't too bad, but it would be so much better for it to have it's own voice. Not to mention during conversations it would be nice if your character didn't look like a simple soul gawking into thin air.

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          I haven't done all the DLC (downloadable content) yet, but what I have done I got on sale on the xbox market place - I certainly don't think it's worth playing full price for but it's great for a few more hours entertainment and hearing some more plot/story.

          -------------
          In Summary, I loved playing Dragon Age: Origins and I plan on playing through it again from a different race/class/background - it's definitely more entertaining than a one gameplay through game and worth a second go around - maybe more.
          If you like plot heavy games you'll love Dragon Age, there's so much plot to eat up and digest you'll be dreaming about it.
          I'd definitely recommend it.

          Although... one last thing. DRAGON Age - Origins. There's only two Dragons in the whole game and only one you actually do any combat in. What's up with that?!

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          03.09.2010 18:14
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          A brilliant and immersive game with great length but lacks a little in terms of combat

          As a child Role playing games were always my favourite huge adventures which went on for hours and hours, sadly this genre is not what it once was most games now are completable within 30 hours, not the 70 that once was the case. Still as I grew older and got more responsibilities I did not have a lot of time for games at all.

          Then I discovered Dragon Age, a epic and relatively free roaming role playing game. You play a hero from one of six different backgrounds all with their own unique origins story, which in turn can be one of three races, human, elf or dwarf . The story is a very typical one: There are demons from the underground called Darkspawn that come up from the earth and try to destroy the world ever century or two. They are only stopped by an order known as the Grey Wardens who exist solely to stop this from happening by killing the Darkspawn leader The Archdemon.

          Throughout the game you meet various characters which you can recruit to form part of your party and like in all RPG's they expand and grow alongside you. Often you can choose to fall out with them or even in some cases fight and kill them, I have no idea why you would want to do such a thing but if that tickles your fancy then I guess it is a plus. With each of your party members conversation is the key, each character has their own background and viewpoints and often your party members with conflict and cause havoc with one another. The more you do them right the greater rewards you will receive, such as items, new abilities and even in a few cases a chance to "Take them to your tent" and go beyond friendship.

          The dialogue throughout the game does sway the story in very different directions, however most of the time you will either side with one group of people or their opposition, still this is a much greater freedom than in most games. In terms of an RPG dialogue is the core and Dragon Age much like its Sci Fi counterpart does this fantastically and almost without equal, however where Dragon Age does lack a little is in the combat. If you play on the easier difficulties you will simply highlight the person you wish to attack in real time and your party will hit it. You can select abilities and attacks but basically it is pretty straight forward and after a while repetitive, only if you play the game on the hardest setting does the game combat get a bit more interesting. On hard you can pause the game and select tactics with some greater thought, but even then it is the same repetitive hack and slash structure. Even if you do find the combat repetitive there are a relatively large amount of play styles that you can choose between and the different abilities do mix it up a little.

          Generally I found myself totally hooked on the games story so the combat did not matter so much and when it did occur it was fuelled by my love of the story and characters so I did not care. The character relationships, the large expansive areas and the central storyline are all superb. There is always a wide range of choices to keep you active mentally and keep your heart in the game.

          The first time I played through the game it took me 43 hours, which in my books is a long time to be playing one game but not once did I question it. The story and adventure are both extremely solid. I am on my second play though and I am loving every moment all over again having given it about a years break due to my xbox dying.

          If the game does hold up to two playthroughs as solidly as I can imagine it too you are looking at at least a good 70+ hours of brilliant game play that is well worth the £10 - £15 that you can buy it for now in most shops, as it is indeed an older game. Despite the fact that it is an older game you can still access new downloadable content that is being released, so far the game has five extra parts, a couple are standalone but the rest add things to the original game, allowing your character to go up another ten levels and a chance to meet another five potential allies.

          Dragon Age is definitely one of the most solid RPGs out there and if adventure is your thing then it is indeed a must buy.

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            07.08.2010 12:25
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            One of the best RPGs I have played in years

            I've always been a big fan of roleplaying games and this one was recommended to me by a friend as it's very much your traditional 'elves / dwarves / demons' fantasy game. I got it for £15 new on Amazon which is pretty cheap and it also comes with free downloadable content which opens up a new character and some extra quests.

            The storyline is fairly basic to begin with - hordes of demon-like creatures called 'darkspawn' are planning to attack your country of Ferelden and, as a member of an elite group of warriors called 'The Grey Wardens', the responsibility for stopping the darkspawn blight and slaying their archdemon is yours.

            While the storyline throughout the game is effectively the same you have a choice of 6 different 'origin' stories allowing you to try out a range of race and class backgrounds (eg. human noble, dwarf commoner etc.). The origin you choose will allow you to play through a unique origin storyline quest and then will subtley change how people react to you and the dialogue and quest options you may be offered.

            As you journey across Ferelden you will also meet various other characters you can enlist to your party to help you in your quest - or in some cases you have the option to ignore them completely. There is quite a wide range of characters and most of them have surprisingly in-depth backgrounds which you learn more of as you spend more time interacting with them at the party camp. You are given a great many dialogue options for each character and what you say can either earn you their approval or disaproval which in turn opens up more dialogue options (approval can also be won by giving special gifts to your companions). Increased approval will sometimes result in you recieving gifts, being given an extra quest, your companion gaining additional skills or even the possibility of romance with a few of the characters. While I found some of them irritating some of the companions were really interesting and raising their approval was a fun side quest in addition to the fighting. There is also a lot of really humerous 'banter' between the characters as you travel around - I found myself switching members of my party often just to hear all the things they could say to each other!

            Combat appears to mostly be real-time, however if you play on the harder difficulties you can pause and assign different tasks to each character. There is also the option for assigning specific tactics to each character to use in different situations (eg. if health is low) which can lead to quite a strategic game. This only really applies if played on the higher difficulties though as I played mostly on 'casual' or 'normal' and preffered to just run in and attack with very minimal strategy. I liked how the game did attempt to accomodate different playing styles however and you have a good amount of choice on what type of fighter you want to play as (eg. melee rogue, two handed weapon, archer, mage etc...) so the combat system should suit most people.

            Overall I found the game to be very addictive. The storyline and relationships between the characters develop well and there is a wide range of areas to explore throughout the game's world. As you continue with the game you are often presented with difficult moral choices which can very much alter the outcome of a quest and what your companions will think of you. Unlike a lot of games there is about equal reward for playing an 'evil' character as opposed to a 'good' one. I found that as there were so very different options for how things could turn out that I played the game through twice and while essentially playing the same quests ended up with very different experiences.

            For £15 I would say this is excellent value for money. I played through twice (and I know many people who have played through 3 times) and each playthrough took me around 35-40 hours, so you certainly get quite a lot of game for your money!

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            22.06.2010 03:42

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            Overall great game, FREE not like WoW and still gets 5 stars despite the difficulty

            I was originally pretty sceptical about dragon when the trailer was first available on the xbox live marketplace. I got the game on the cheap off eBay for around £10 and I haven't looked back since. This game would be best suited for people who want a game with the feel of an MMO. I played guild wars for a few months and it was pretty good at the time but dragon age really does take role-playing to the next level. It has a really simple interface after you get use to using Biowares 'Skill Wheel' (not actual name) but if your familiar with Mass Effect you'll instantly get the feel for it. The game itself including all of the side quests is pretty long, I wouldn't like to say just how long as it's completely dependant on the players skill and how long they like to explore landscapes for but this game is pretty big. The combat is great and fun to use and the story, although intially complex later unfolds as you progress.
            One awesome feature for this game is the multiple storylines, fantastic. Nice to see a game that's non-linear again, I would expect nothing less from Bioware. The graphics are pretty good and dialougue is pretty standard. The score is great and always fits the modd nicely, the opnly downside to this game is the steepness in difficulty if your not a seasoned player (like myself i'm not great at this genre, i'm a FPS player) Casual and Normal is like going from Easy to Hard, theres no challenge in it, shame about not pushing the graphics as far as I would have liked but the gameplay makes up for it even if the PC version is a little bit easier on the eyes.
            If you enjoyed any old-school Role-Playing games like D&D or MMO's like GW or WoW then I would give this a go, and as a bonus it has a good sized expansion that's worth looking into but that's for another review.

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            13.05.2010 09:02
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            A pretty good RPG for Xbox

            Currently available for £15 on amazon.

            Baldur's Gate 2 remains my all-time favourite computer game. It was a Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game in which you had to wander around the usual fantasy game world (usual = like Tolkien, but more eventful) having fights and doing good deeds. Dragon Age: Origins is the latest contender to try and fill the Baldur's Gate shaped hole in my life. It's made by Bioware, who did Baldur's Gate (and acclaimed sci-fi rolepaying games Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect).

            Sad to say, it doesn't quite give me that Baldur's thrill. It's not bad, though. Not bad at all.

            You are a young hero (you can be a warrior, mage or rogue, as in all these types of games). There are different origin stories depending on what race of character you choose to be (human, elf or dwarf), but the upshot is you're recruited to an elite order of soldiers whose purpose is to fight Darkspawn. You can be male or female (I'm a complete computer game transvestite and always play as a lady when given the option. This is either because I'm a sensitive soul in touch with my feminine side; or because I like looking at pretty female characters in computer games). Darkspawn are basically orcs, although they come in a few different varieties. They're an ancient evil that has returned to threaten the land, and they're controlled by an even greater evil force. You have to unite the various factions and races in your fantasy world so you can crush the Darkspawn menace.

            It's not that different, plotwise, to most of these things. In fact, if you've played through Mass Effect (as I'd done shortly before starting this) then the plot will seem almost eerily familiar. They've just taken the main plot, and several incidental details, and transposed them from space into Tolkien-world. Several characters are almost identical to characters in Mass Effect, and they've even used some of the same voice actors. For this reason, if you've recently played one game, I'd leave it a few months before you play the other.

            As in all such games, you have a group of followers who hang out with you, and it's their dialogue with your main character and each other which is one of the chief sources of enjoyment. While none of them match the best of the Baldur's Gate characters, some of the companions are fun - Oghren, a lecherous drunken dwarf warrior is my favourite. Unfortunately some of the others are just irritating, especially Morrigan, a sexy witch with an attitude problem who keeps up a constant parade of witless cynicism throughout. She also wears a most unlikely looking dress that can't possibly let her breasts stay in the position they do.

            You can romance several of these characters (although not all at once) and you get a hilariously chaste love scene if you pitch woo successfully, in which both parties keep their underwear on. There are bisexual romance options available, which I think is commendable. The game's 18 certificate is due to the violence (this surprised me, as I thought it was pretty tame), but they've taken the opportunity to be reasonably upfront about sex, even if there's no nudity.

            The world is well realised, with a few not-so-subtle parallels with real world class and race prejudices. One of the villains is trying to sow fear of invasion to clamp down on civil liberties, which is a nice touch. The threat your world faces is epic, feels like it matters to the characters, and you do feel there's something at stake. That said, some of the motivation for the characters, especially the minor villains, is poor, and I still can't remember the main human villain's name without looking it up. (This is in stark contrast to Mass Effect or Baldur's Gate, where the bad guys are mentioned pretty much anytime anyone opens their mouths).

            But although very similar, the plot of Dragon Age is better than that of Mass Effect. One of the big weaknesses of the earlier game was the tedious sameyness of the small missions you did to break up the big, important stuff. In Dragon Age, taking a leaf from Baldur's Gate's book, you have a wide variety of missions, from big, epic Holy Grail type quests to small 'deliver this message' type diversions. Also, for once, choices you make can have major impacts on how things work out. You can alienate your followers by being too good or too evil, and there are some life and death decisions to take. These different choices in the game also unlock different Achievements depending on what you choose to do, which seems like a cheap way of getting people to replay it. But while I played Baldur's Gate 2 many, many times, I can't really see myself doing all of this again.

            The graphics look very good (although just as eyes looked wrong in Mass Effect, so do mouths here - especially teeth, which look brown and shapeless. Hair also looks terribly unconvincing. It's also predictable but a shame that there aren't many body types on display here). It sounds good, with great ambient sound used in certain bits (a spooky orphanage you explore is genuinely creepy). The voice acting is generally excellent (and the cast includes a few familiar names, Tim Curry among them). Human characters have English accents while Elves and Dwarfs are American. But to be honest I'd expect modern games to have great graphics and sound. The only badly animated character is your dog, who is one of your less exciting followers (possibly a nod to Fable 2, in which the dog was the best feature). Also, when you look around the camera moves very quickly and slightly jerkily; this can be quite disorientating.

            The gameplay itself, sadly, leaves a bit to be desired. Moving around is easy enough, and although complex, you'll pick up the controls fairly quickly. But there are a few problems, which range from the irritating to the extremely annoying. Perhaps the main one is how inconsistent the difficulty level of fights is. Combat itself isn't terribly intuitive, although it doesn't take long to pick it up. It's certainly less annoying than in Mass Effect, but I'm not sure it's ever quite fun in itself, which it should be.

            But you tend to go without any warning from a series of easy-to-moderate fights to a fight that is ridiculously, unreasonably difficult. If the combat system was more enjoyable I might be willing to see this as a fun challenge to be overcome, but as it is I just got irritated and switched down to an easier difficulty level for the toughest fights. No doubt hardcore gamers will sneer at such an admission, but narrative-heavy games like this are never about testing myself. There's also no logic to it. One of the most important boss fights, in plot terms, is absurdly easy, while random encounters with bandits can be maddeningly tough to the extent that I was screaming at the TV so hard I could actually see the blood vessels in my own eyes. There are other small gameplay niggles, but that's the main one.

            Another criticism is that the game is incredibly slow to load, even when installed to my Xbox's hard drive. It's also prone to crash while loading, although that could be my console rather than a general problem. Although the voices are generally well acted, some of the characters are incomprehensible, which can be a problem when they're revealing important plot details (werewolves are especially troublesome in this respect). There are a lot of cut scenes and large chunks of dialogue in this, which is fair enough as it's a plot-heavy game. But there are times when you can go for more than five minutes without actually doing anything except watching characters talk - this seems excessive. It is, after all, meant to be a game.

            One other annoyance is that your main character doesn't talk. S/he has dialogue, but it's just text, there's no sound. You only hear her/him speak a few stock lines, usually in battle. This feels like a big step back after Mass Effect, which fully voiced the main character. I suppose with Dragon Age having lots more options for who you can be, there wouldn't be space on the disk to store voices for all possible different permutations. It's also weirdly light on dragons; given the name of the game, you'd feel reasonably justified in expecting more than, say, two in the entire game. No idea why it's called 'Origins', either - possibly it's intended as the start of a lengthy series. If so, I'll certainly look forward to future instalments (although I'm not going to get the extension pack, Awakening, until it's considerably cheaper than it is now).

            I would recommend this, but don't expect it to set your world on fire. These kinds of games always feel like they're poised on the verge of being brilliant, but never quite get there. This is better than Mass Effect, but I expect Mass Effect 2 (the next thing on my list) to be slightly better than this, and on it will go, forever inching towards an unattainable Platonic ideal of a roleplaying game. Until we get there, this does well enough to kill 40-odd hours of your life in an enjoyable way. Three-and-a-half stars, rather than four.

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              18.03.2010 20:47
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              Amazing RPG with action, adventure and an epic storyline,

              As a bit of a Bioware fangirl, I was very excited for the release of this game, and boy were my expectations not disappointed at all!

              The graphics are lovely to look at, but it's the gameplay and story that always make or break a game in my opinion, and this game does not disappoint. It's combination of roleplay and action are perfectly and seamlessly blended together, to create a deeply involving environment. Each character is also carefully developed so that you actually care about every one of them, and as you progress through the game things you do and choices you make can alter their opinions of you dramatically, they may even cause them to leave your party, or fall in love with you, gotta love those Bioware game romances!

              I don't think I have enjoyed a game quite as much as this one for quite some time, the dialogue is expertly written, there's tragedy, joy, humour and all out action galore squished into a beautiful package.

              This game enables you to be a hero, save the world, get the girl/guy and stab/freeze/burn a lot of Darkspawn (those are the bad guys :D) on the way!

              For those who enjoy a good old RPG that will suck you in for hours, days weeks, months, this game's for you. For those who like action, adventure and suspense, this game's for you. For those who love a story which will involve you and make you want more and more, this game's for you. Prepare to be completely addicted by the world of Dragon Age! :D

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                17.02.2010 18:27

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                Fantastic game, great fun

                Dragon Age Origins is quite simply THE best role playing game i have ever played. I am not usually a fan of the genre, i prefer shooters, sports sims and racers but Dragon Age kept me hooked for days. In terms of graphics, it is very good, the cut scenes are fantastic and very detailed. However, the real strong point of Dragon Age is the story line which has depth, excitement, deceit and adventure. As you progress through the game you can get different characters to join your party. Each of these will have different strengths and weaknesses. To really form a formidable force, it is worth picking a selection of characters that have varied perks and abilities. One of my favourite parts of the game is interacting with people. You can upgrade your skills to allow you different ways of interacting that will in turn allow you to persudae or intimidate the people you speak to. For instance, a group of bandits attacked me to take my money, i manage to convince them that they did not want my money and in fact they should pay me not to kill them. I then got the money and killed them anyway! Overall, Dragon Age is a fantastic game and well worth buying

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                12.01.2010 02:52
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                An RPG to be enjoyed by the Vets and the Noobs alike

                I am not a Bioware fan. This isn't because I find something wrong with them or their games, but simply because I have not had the privilege, until now, to relish in one of their titles. I am of course aware of the repertoire they have built up but due to the fact that mass effect was limited to the 360, it's a game I was unable to play. I recall many moons ago playing Baldur's Gate on a friend's PC but that short foray into Bioware was too short to recall.

                But, due to my lack of experience in the department of this developer, I think it puts me in a very good position for this epic title. I am new to any format, I hold no prejudice and I enter into the fray with eyes wide open, which in this game is the only way to do it.

                Now with modern console RPGs I think it's fair to say that there are two benchmarks which cannot go unadressed. The first is Tolkien, who plays a huge part in the shaping of these titles. Despite his obvious handicap of a lack of living, J.R.R. Tolkien has influenced every RPG set in a medieval style fantasy setting, from the creatures to the lore to the feel. This is something that you don't find in most JRPGs for obvious cultural reasons, and I for one appreciate the familiar ground on which I tread with games like this. The second obvious nod must go to Bethesda. Now Bethesda are infamous for their Elder Scrolls titles, epic adventures in an open world setting where the hero must dive through dungeons and complete quests to progress. While Bethesda weren't the first to do this, they certainly do it very well.

                Dragon Age has the Tolkienesque elements in it's feel, it's scenery, it's people and it's monsters, but it certainly distances itself from the 'Bethesda way'. While in most Bethesda titles you are a lone hero, in Dragon Age you are given the option of selecting 3 party members to join you and you can even directly control each character. These 'not-so NPCs' are recruited throughout the game during quests and are fully customisable from their spells and talents to their weapons and armour. Throughout the game you will pick up about 10 party members, each with their own specialties, so you may be spoiled for choice. These party members can be talked to and given gifts to when back at your camp to improve their relationship with your character and some can even enter into something more than a friendship with you, possibly unlocking skills and quests along the way. Many of the conversations you will have with NPCs and party members can be quite amusing and you will never get bored of the little conversations they have between theselves as you travel.

                At the start of the game you can choose from three races and three classes, different combinations of which alter the 'Origin' story of the game, i.e. how and where you start your quest. Only having these three races and classes seems limiting at first and a few more races could have been included but the classes, mage, warrior and rogue, are happily expandable at certain points in the game by adding specialisations allowing the player certain skills they didn't have access to before. At this point, you will also partially choose your stats and fully customize your appearance, which is really a must for RPGs of this genre these days.

                The battle system is another thing to be praised as it is a fairly seemless mixture between live control of a character and stop battle. It achieves this through a radial menu that, when called up, allows the player to use it as a target to direct spells and talents and will fulfill all actions, be they tactical or otherwise, all while the game is paused awaiting the player's input. It's a very uncomplicated system which is easy to learn and understand and provides you with the control you need without having to hotkey all your spells to complicated button combinations.

                The battles are fun and can be made challenging or easy depending on your skill with these types of game. Where the battle system falls down is in the time it takes to deplo these actions as for any spell, talent or item used an animation must be completed. If you're getting pummeled, are on your last legs and use a health potion you will sometimes find you are vanquished before your character has had time to cast their spell or use their item. On the other hand, one positive feature is auto saving. Bethesda use a technique of autosaving wherein it occurs when you travel between load screens by entering an area or fast travelling to an area. Dragon Age goes one better by doing it whenever the game is going to throw a difficult battle at you, meaning that if you fall, you can return to a save from 5 minutes ago rather than 30.

                Aside from being able to fully customise the characters' skills, weapons and armour you can also choose battle tactics. This is essentially a system where you choose what characters you aren't controlling will do by creating a list of commands that they will follow. For example, you may create a tactic that states when an ally falls below 50% health the character will use a heal spell on them which can be given priority above attacking the enemy so that they use the heal spell first. These tactics can be altered and many different lists can be saved for use in different situations so if you're the type who loves the tactics side of RPGs you can spend a lot of time doing this. On the other hand, if you're not there are presets that generally tend to work very well except for certain more difficult battles.

                The world is fairly vast but it is not a sandbox environment. The world map is just that, a map. You select where you want to go and the party travels there automatically, with the player regaining control once at the destination. In saying that, there are many places with a lot of areas to visit. When in Orzammar, the subterranean Dwarven city, one can visit the rich quarter, poor quarter, common quarter and arena. Then there's the Deep Roads, beneath the city which have seperate areas of their own and even some lesser tunnels beneath the poor section. Some quests can take minutes, some hours if you let them.

                The great thing is, you want to let them. The visuals can be excellent, with the different textures and terrains always making you wonder what's coming next, but I have noticed some glitchy behaviour at times where floors and walls are displayed as pure black in sections where there should be texture. It doesn't ruin the game, but it does put a dampener on things. Also, the loading times are simply horrendous but to be honest, if you're buying this game you're likely used to that sort of thing. The music is often quite low down in the background, and goes fairly unnoticed but it will seep into our ears slowly and gently and it can evoke feelings of panic or calm ithout you even noticing sometimes.

                This game comes with a lot of background. As you progress you collect codexes. These are documents that have information ranging from lore to stories to poems to detailed character notes and much more. You will always know about the world you inhabit. The downfall of this system though, is that once you're fairly far into the game you will have a lot of these. Searching through them to gind the one you want is a nightmare, and sometimes finding recently acquired ones is too. The game seperates the codexes into categories and unread entries are highlighted. They stop being highlighted as soon as you pass over them and this is an issue. When you are scrolling through them you are passing over them, meaning that when you get to the bottom of the screen you're not sure whether each new title you pass over is new or not, and only the most dedicated will search through these to learn everything. If you're quick, you can press select when a codex is acquired and it might take you straight to it, but this isn't always the case.

                The voice acting is something to be praised in this title. The actors put feel into the characters they play and are very believable in their roles. Also, not every NPC is a mixture of only 4 or 5 voices, as in Oblivion, meaning you can hear a conversation between two men with the exact same voice. Your own character is rather the silent type but the writers have done a good job of adding the right emotions to the conversations you can have. It is the standard in such titles to have three options hen replying to people, the negative, positive and neutral reactions. While Dragon Age has that classic feature, the writers have tried hard to inject some humour, compassion and cruelty into the lines and the results can be rather entertaining.

                This is an RPG classic for the new generation, teaching new players the ropes and entertaing the vets all the same. I still enjoyed Oblivion more, but I love this game and it is worth what is paid for it. Go on, give it a try.

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