Dragon Age Origins Review: An Epic Darkspawn Slaying Tale!
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
After their successful game "Mass Effect", Bioware decided to take their RPGs to the next level by bringing us back to the medieval world of bucklers and swords. Dragon Age is a medieval RPG for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. First of all, I would like to say that Dragon Age is definitely not a medieval Mass Effect. While it may share the same destiny trees and conversation methods, there are enough features to completely seperate this game from Bioware's futuristic masterpiece.
The most enthralling part of the game would probably be the storyline, which gradually changes depending on how you play the game. The Arch-demon has risen from the depths of darkness, and you, as one of the mighty Grey Wardens must create an army to combat the demonic army known as the Darkspawn. Althroughout the game, you will be bridging conversations and fighting your way through the unforgiving world of Ferelden to gain the trust of your would-be army. Your story has begun.
FOR THE GREY WARDENS!
Before starting the game, you will be asked to create your character. What is great about this interface is that you are actually allowed to completely customize your character's face to either make it look like YOU or your ideal character. There are three races and three starting classes to choose from. The best part about creating a new character in this game is that each races starts out differently and will face different challenges as they are treated differently by other races and/or species.
Races: Humans, Elves (Dalish, as they are called), and Dwarves
Starting Classes: Warrior, Rogue, Mage
Note that each of the classes have their own subcategories to choose from, meaning Warriors can either be dual-weilders, sword-and-shield, or two-handed. The character creation interface is actually rather diverse, making it fun to just create and try out a lot of different characters. Also, the game lets you unlock subclasses as you march across ferelden, unlocking new skills and titles that will greatly aid you in the fight against evil.
The Living And Breathing World
One of the RPG elements BioWare has managed to nail perfectly is the in-game world. Unlike most RPGs that features random characters standing in place, you will really feel the world move in Dragon Age. It honestly feels a lot like an MMO, considering the fact that the conversation trees are quite broad and diverse. You can probably just run around and talk to NPCs (including your allies) for hours and not get tired of it. Everyone has their own story to tell, from the running girl in Denerim to the merchants in Orzammar. Also, these conversation trees change depending on how you. Since the game also features an alignment system, people may respond differently to you if you've done something of significance or insignificance to them.
The Legendary Team
Since one Grey Warden is not enough to fight against the plague known as the Blight, you will need to create a team of epic proportions. While some characters may just come your way like regular J-RPG characters, some of the characters ingame may require a bit of persuasion before completely joining your group. Like your character, your teammates can also level up and will possess the same attribute and subclass options available to you.
Love Me, Love Me, Say That You Love Me
Much like Mass Effect, Dragon Age also allows players to enter a romantic state with their character of choice (homosexual relationships also work, apparently). Each character will have a heart or love meter which will fill and deplete depending on how you treat them. Giving them gifts and constantly flattering them through random conversations is a good way to raise these bars. The rewards? Well, let's just say that it will stay in between the sheets. Raising a character's relationship meter also lets a you access character specific quests which will allow you to both know more about your character and gain special character-specific items and gear. Deplete these meters and you might have a nice sharp knife down your throat *wink wink*.
TO THE RIGHT, TO THE LEFT! WE WILL FIGHT TO THE DEATH!
When it comes to combat, I would say that no other RPG comes close to Dragon Age's exceptional fighting system. First of all, each character has their own behavior customization slot known as TACTICS. Tactics allow players to issue pre-planned orders in order to make their allies function well in battle without the hassle of switching from one character to another. If you want your healer to heal allies when their lifebar goes below 50%, or if you want the tank to get aggro the moment he jumps in, then go and visit the tactics section to customize them futher. Secondly, the radial menu allows players to pause the action, making it easier for them to spot and mark enemies while issuing character specific orders without worrying about them getting struck down randomly.
All in all, I would say that Dragon Age Origins is a game for keeps. It seems that Bioware managed to strike RPG gold once again. Since the game is not linear and does not revolve around a railed path, it's hard for two players to play the game the exact same way. There are many (and I mean MANY) weighty decisions to be made, and tons of side quests to fulfill, meaning you can play the game for countless hours just by doing the side quests. Not satisfied? The game also features tons of downloadable quests and scenarios which are good for around 2 extra hours of gameplay. Finishing these DLC quests are quite rewarding, especially since some of them give awesome armor sets, so burn thy wallet and start downloading. If you are looking for an adventure of epic proportions, then Dragon Age is the game you're looking for.
-Immersive gameplay (it's hard to get tired of it)
-Excellent replay value (different characters = different stories)
-Presentation is flawless
-A break from all those linear RPGS
-Console versions have either a crappy framerate (PS3) or dull textures (360). If you are getting this game, might as well play it on the PC
-Some bugs here and there. Clipping, and that weird running girl who looked like she was floating around
-buff effects sometimes block whoever you are talking to.
-Targeting is sometimes off, especially when you end up talking to your comrade while interacting with objects (console problem)