Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Review: Bring Them Back!
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
Dragon Age Origins: Awakening, is Dragon Age: Origins' first and only expansion pack. Assuming that you haven't had enough of Dragon Age even after completing all the sidequests and taking all the possible routes, Dragon Age: Origins Awakening (DAOA) is an instant buy for those who want more Darkspawn-slaying action. The game requires you to have the original Dragon Age, so new players cannot skip to this point (then again, they wouldn't understand anything if they did) and will need to purchase the original game to be able to play. So does the expansion carry the same epic feel as the original? Let's see, shall we?
FOR THE GREY WARDENS PART TWO!
Unlike the first two Mass Effect games, your accomplishments and choices in the first game will not have any relevance in this expansion. In a way, it does tie up, but not in a big way. Since it is an RPG expansion pack, I was really looking forward to doing more adventuring with my existing Grey Warden, but it seems that BioWare had something else in mind. Yes, players can port their existing character from the first game, but while in the process of doing so, I thought that maybe it would be wise to just end my Warden's adventures then and there and let the new characters handle it.
BRING THEM BACK!
The game also presents an array of new characters which will be filling in for your old comrades. I was actually rather disappointed in a way, since the ONLY returning character was the one I seldom used during the first game (Oghren). I, as an individual, was also rather iffy about the sudden change of roster since my memory of the original cast was still rather fresh, and I felt that there was still much to discover about them. Your new comrades will also gain your trust as they fill your speakers with funny banter along the way, but honestly, they just don't stand out as well as former characters like Alistair, Morrigan, and Leliana.
New Stuff Is Always Welcome
The best part about The Awakening are the new skills and options that expand the capabilities of the original. The original game didn't really need a huge makeover, and it's great that BioWare didn't take the expansion that far. Now players are able to create and combine runes to further upgrade their existing weapon, as well as gain HP and stamina bonuses, making them more effective in battle. The changes are indeed good and actually enough for me to purchase this expansion.
The game has a lot of new enemies to slay, which keeps the in game combat fresh and far from being repetitive. I would say that you are about to have your Warden skills be put to the test once more, as you encounter bog monsters, dragons, and more variations of the darkspawn than ever before. There are also tons of new areas to explore and new items to discover, making it fun to explore and revisit certain areas.
I Wish They Gave Us More
The story is quite intriguing in a way, but definitely far from the original game's engaging plot. While some parts may get you to play for countless hours, other quests feel like half-baked fillers designed only to increase the game's duration. The original game's sidequests were marvelous, and each quest really felt like it had a story of its own. It is too bad that Awakening could not execute it just as well. It IS just an expansion after all, so don't expect it to be as special as the actual game.
Much like Dragon Age: Origins, you will be presented with a set of life changing decisions, which will shape your destiny depending on how good or bad you are at playing and making decisions. It's always fun to play around and experiment with conversation trees to see how far your comrades are willing to go, or how easy it is to intimidate and aggravate other characters, so I'm glad BioWare gave us more of those.
I would say that the game still retains the original's replay value, since the Awakening still shares the same diverse destiny tree provided by its predecessor. Although the scope is not as broad compared to Origins, I think the expansion has enough diversity to keep you playing more than once.
If you're a fan of Dragon Age, then Dragon Age: Origins - The Awakening is definitely a must buy. The fact that this is a Dragon Age Expansion is reason enough to pick up that sword and smash those Darkspawn once more. The story, I would say, will keep you keep you playing for countless hours while trying to uphold the might of the Grey Wardens, and though it's not as good or engaging as the original, it's still an expansion worth purchasing. I for one think that the whole roster change was a bit too extreme, especially since our adventures with the old cast was still fresh and could still be broadened. New characters are not a bad idea, but changing the whole cast within the span months is a bit too soon. With a kick-ass combat system and a system not far from the original, Dragon Age: Origins- The Awakening is a must have for all Dragon Age enthusiasts.
-New characters (?)
-New maps to explore
-Good story (though not as good as the first one)
-Definitely a bang for the buck
-New characters ALREADY?!
-fails to deliver the same epic feeling in terms of story
-The characters lack impact and are easily forgotten