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Dragon Age: Origins Review

January 4, 2010

Version reviewed – 360 (with wank controls)

Also available on – PS3, PC

Bioware have also done – Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect.

A long time ago…

Talk to anyone old enough to remember ‘proper’ RPGs (they probably have a beard) and they will wax lyrical about epic five hundred hour quests, compelling characters, thrilling inventory management and pouring over statistics pages longer than Gene Simmon’s tongue. Finding one of these people may be hard now however as Bioware seems to have kidnapped them all to work on Dragon Age: Origins for the past twenty years.

DA is an obese game, it’s belt is about ready to ping off with all the content that’s been rammed into every last byte available, but be warned; it can be a slog if you’re not used to the games DA:O is aping. Sections another game would squeeze into thirty minutes, DA:O stretches into suffocating two or three hour campaigns as you waddle around ancient halls looting every last pot and bookcase, slaying hundreds of dudes, and running out of inventory space.

The game does its best to avoid sections becoming a chore, interesting set pieces are sprinkled refreshingly frequently throughout the dungeon crawls which range from the standard Bioware staring contests (conversations) to some light puzzling and other, slightly off kilter experiences, whilst party members will share genuinely interesting conversation on a whim. Oh and the frequent combat is fun as well, if unfathomably punishing.

Yes, along with the social life threatening length of the game it’s also a punishing affair even on the apparently ‘normal’ difficulty and unless you save frequently a misjudged manoeuvre on your part could mean getting thrown back an hour by a cheeky group of wolves.

Something old, something new.

Whereas frequent checkpoints are something that didn’t sneak in, other modern game elements have, for better or worse. Regenerating health is on such offender and whereas it makes every fight more immediately challenging as the developers have been able to tailor each fight to a fully healed party, traps become negligible thanks to your health returning immediately, rendering what is normally a demanding hazard in these types of RPGs a throwaway annoyance.

But all this critical analysis is froth on the surface because Bioware kidnapped those bearded wise RPG players to make a game to satisfy the very people that enjoy dungeon crawling, loot grabbing, the company of pointy eared folk and dialogue and art stolen from Tolkein’s secret giant tree lair (he doesn’t seem the sort for a volcano).

So if you’re the type who dreams of sprouting a forest from your chin, swigging a ‘flagon’ of ‘mead’, and carving up legions of gribbly demons with a glowing broadsword then tell your friends they won’t see you for a few weeks, Dragon Age is the game for you.

8

Recommended version – PC

For your consideration – Bioware have stated that Dragon Age is in for the long haul, they’re talking ten months of DLC and with some out already and the ‘return to Ostagar’ set for a January release they aren’t kidding, and this is only part one of a proposedtrilogy (isn’t everything) so if you like it, it may be the only fantasy RPG series you need for a few years.

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4 comments

  1. I approve this review, the PC controls are rather more WoW than Diablo with many customizable options. I’m loving it but have to limit my playtime cos it really runs my MacBook bollock-burningly hot. best rpg i’ve played in a long time.
    Rahmich (of chin Forrest)


  2. Spelling mistake right at the start of the review.

    Dala :fp:


    • That’s what I get for whacking that in quickly after writing and proof reading the bulk of it, now I’m all embarrassed 😦 Thanks for leaving a comment though, always appreciated haha.


  3. Personally I think Dragon Age is an excellent game.

    I think your complaints about the length probably comes from playing the Xbox version were the controls just piss you off. I’ve done one run through on the PC and while I agree its pretty damn long, I’d rather that than Fables 2 blink and you miss it main story.

    My gripes are more little niggles. Inventory space, I found myself looking for backpacks as much as swords in shops. Generally a bad sign. Combat is perhaps a little too focused on mages for the best abilities the other classes ended up as meat shields or just to stun enemies.

    I think for the people the game is targeted at its 9/10. For those just getting in to RPG’s its probably a 7. So 8 is a good compromise.



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