Review – Dragon Age: Origins
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: BioWare Edmonton
Platform(s): Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood, Intense Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content
The Setup: The king is dead and the darkspawn enemies are moving in. You’re a member of the elite warrior team Grey Wardens (think Jedi Knights) and are the only hope at reuniting a kingdom in chaos to drive the darkspawn out for good. The only problem is, the Grey Wardens have been framed for the King’s death, so good luck with that!
What’s Hot: I don’t hide the fact Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is my favorite game of all time; the story, the mechanics, I love everything about the game. Dragon Age: Origins reminds me so much of KOTOR, especially when it comes to how the game plays. While playing Dragon Age: Origins, I made a list of everything I liked and found myself writing “just like KOTOR” over and over again. While my list of likes goes on for a page and then some, here are the highlights:
- Character Build: Similar to character builds for d20 table-top RPGs, Dragon Age: Origins offers a lot of various skills. There are three different classes to choose from (warrior, mage, and rogue) as well as race, sex, name, facial features… the list goes on. What’s really neat is your character’s facial build is like making a Sim; custom hair, eyes, facial features, even voice pitch. (I chose a human female mage with red hair, violet eyes, and a really cool facial tattoo. ) Like d20 RPGs, once your character is built and your class chosen, skills and feats have to be assigned, and there’s a vast array for each class to choose from.
- Character Openings: Each race and class has its own story opening. My human female mage began at Mage Headquarters with opportunities for me to learn how to control the character and the variety of spells she could cast. The whole opening level took a little over an hour to get through, to make sure I’d covered everything I needed to. My roommate, however, started out as a female elf warrior; her opening level took half as long to complete, and in the same amount of game play time, she was much farther along than I was. Regardless, the idea that each class and race has its own opening segment is a really neat idea.
- Game Controls: Like with KOTOR, Dragon Age: Origins is a point-and-attack game. Pick the darkspawn you want to attack, and your character goes off completing the moves you assign. Each character has a huge variety of skills to choose from with the ability to assign six skills at a time. The different attacks (or spells in the case of my mage) can be swapped out in favor of other types at any time.
- NPCs: There can be up to three in your party. The NPCs have their own strengths and weaknesses, can share armor and weapons, and can be individually controlled. Some of the NPCs are also romance options for your character. My favorite NPC so far is my Mabari War Dog–an NPC that can only be obtained after successfully completing a side quest. I named him Fluffy.
- Turn off gore: Nice feature for those who don’t like rivers of blood!
What’s Not: There really isn’t much to complain about in Dragon Age: Origins, and the things I don’t like are more personal preference than Bad Things About The Game. Still, there are a few things I need to point out that made Dragon Age: Origins troublesome to play:
- Font: The subtitles and captions were really, really hard to read. Part of that was the font choice; really pretty calligraphy. But when it’s small font in a yellow-gold color on a dark background, it’s very difficult to read clearly on my 32 inch HD television, resulting in a lot of eye strain for me and my roommates.
- Colors and environments: I’m one of those gamers who cannot play FPS games without getting nauseous. Some third-person games also give me horrible migraines; Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Fable II come to mind. Sadly, I have to put Dragon Age: Origins in the Games-I-Can’t-Play-For-More-Than-20-Minutes category, too. I’m not sure if it’s the color scheme, or what, but something about playing Dragon Age: Origins for an extended period of time gives me motion sickness. Turning the brightness all the way down helps a lot, but then it’s too dark in spots to clearly see what’s going on. However, my roommates can play the game for hours on end without any ill side effects, so maybe this is just me.
There are also features of the game that I don’t care for:
- Menu Interface: Dragon Age: Origins goes back to the KOTOR interface, having players hit the left and right triggers to scroll through everything. Compared to how simplistic and clean Mass Effect‘s menu interface was, this seems like a step backwards for BioWare. It can be very complicated at first to navigate through, especially when it comes to comparing items like weapons and armors.
- World/Town Map: There is no way to place a pin on the map to see which direction you have to go in order to get to a certain point. Because of this, there’s been a lot of back-tracking and confusion (and rage quitting by a terribly lost roommate).
Final Verdict: Dragon Age: Origins is a fantastic, brilliant dark fantasy game. The story is vast, the characters are dynamic, and the game play is fluid and fun. This is definitely a must-have in every gamer’s library. I’m just really sad I can only play this game in small increments, because I have a hard time putting the controller down!Review - Dragon Age: Origins,