Synyster Graves

Dragon Age: Origins

by on Sep.15, 2011, under Xbox 360

Bioware, who created Baldur’s Gate and Mass Effect have a reputation for creating immersive and massive RPGs such as the former. Personally I’ve never actually played one so for me this was a dawn of a new era for me with only Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy experience. In DA:O you start off choosing your race, class and customise your character and your choices place you in one of the six different “Origin” storylines. Being the arrogant type I always try and make a protagonist who looks and acts like me, but I suppose that is the entire ethos behind a role playing game! But while these six stories start off different, they all intertwine beautifully making a fantastic piece of story telling. You reside in Ferelden, a country in the fictional world of Thedas standing on the brink of an evil army of DarkSpawn led by an Arch Demon from the undergrounds. You and your party have to stop the “Blight” from ravaging the the entire land, as well having to unite the land which lies on the cusp of civil war.

Character creation is very good and enables lengthy customisation

The combat and general gameplay is complex but at least it is explained how to do simple things in the game. Strategy and planning are more valuable and critical rather than the average fantasy game involving bashing the attack button as hard and fast as you can, creating a rather more refreshing change. Instead the strategy is comprised more of stacked commands for your non-controlled party members in a fight, similar to the gambit system used in Final Fantasy XII. The levelling up system is very good and extremely rewarding allowing for even further choice in assigning skills, talents and “career” paths of each character class.

The Dragon Armor looks badass!

The weapons range from two handed, one handed and ranged as well as spells and augmentations you can choose to buff your characters stats before charging into a DarkSpawn horde. Each weapon can be upgraded with runes which can add fire, ice, paralyse, etc effects to the weapon, and graphically this looks amazing in game as adding elemental effects to your arsenal looks fantastic. Armour is also collected and available to wear as your strength attribute increases, but it’s only until the latter stages of the game when you can actually wear full sets of decent armour, rather than amalgamating a hodge-podge of stupid incongruous items together making you look like you’ve run through a neighbourhood of washing lines covered in glue. In the beginning of the game, you will look very stupid as you try to fight your way through wearing unmatching armour sets.

Ogren: pisshead dwarf gets a bit annoying as the game goes on

The game itself has a fantastic storyline, which is totally augmented by the fact that you totally swing the game in or out of your favour just by answering the branches of dialogue differently. This allows you to make the game so much more personal to you as you can coerce situations or be outright rude to people and this is a fantastic addition to a very well interwoven storyline. Inevitably this can impact the game right up until the ending depending on the choices you made prior. I don’t want to say too much as I’m reluctant to give the story away. As with all the Tolkien-esque fantasy based media, i.e. Elves have bows and live in forests and dwarves live under ground and have unhealthy obsessions with rock, Dragon Age Origins weaves an a rich and amazing tapestry of a fantasy landscape for you to totally immerse yourself in. As you travel in game from place to place meeting the home of the elves, dwarves and spooky mages, you really do feel the sheer enormity of the world you find yourself in.

Morrigan: sexy witch with a serious attitude problem!

The characters themselves have great personality and trying to maintain a decent relationship with them is tricky, yet rewarding. Each of them is very distinctive and individual and are very influential in your decision making. Gaining favour with each of them enables a different side mission to unlock and with some of them you can engage in romatic relationships. This is a was totally not expecting. My character was chatting up one of the girls for fun in the party camp for fun when out of nowhere a spontaneous sex scene ewrupted! You didn’t see anything but it was implied, and I have to say I was somewhat astonished, not in a bad way but since I didn’t know this was a possibility I was caught off guard! I always wondered why this game was an 18 and the simple gore from the melee fighting surely wouldn’t be enough to warrant an adult rating! But you don’t see anything, but I suppose to the dark pervert inside me would have still entertained a full on foreplay followed by sex scene, but I suppose that’s getting carried away from turning a great RPG into a sordid interaction.

Ogres: tough as hell at the start, easy by the end

I don’t really have many criticisms of the game apart from the lack of “XP farming” which is prevalent in most RPGs. As a fan of overkilling in RPGs, there was severe lack of areas which you could persistently revisit, annihilate all in sight and then reap the rewards in loot and XP. While this can be slightly frustrating, there is PLENTY of you to do in the mean time as the game is awash with side quests from all the settlements you can visit. That’s what the beauty of this game is, there is SO much you can do on it and I’ve accumulated about 75 hours of gameplay already, there is still a lot more I want to do. Not to mention the plethora of DLC available for this game, I cannot actually fully explain how deep and diverse this game goes. It’s like they have novels upon novels of dialogue which is totally interactive.

In summation, Dragon Age Origins is probably the best RPG game I have played since getting the Xbox 360 and it’s immensely massive levels of detail and strategy make you sit there and delve into the finer aspects of the game rather than mindlessly ploughing through like a fat chav raiding a Krispy Kreme cart. But this game is definitely more accessible to more hardcore RPG players and people who are interested in being deeply immersed in the story, dialogue and battle strategy, as a casual player would get confused, and subsequently bored. Personally I found this game to be utterly brilliant and I still cannot put this game down. The odd bugs here and there are not enough to dissuade me from saying that this is the best RPG I have played on the Xbox 360, and can even square up to the Final Fantasies and the Elder Scrolls of this world. And that is no mean feat!

:, , , ,

2 Comments for this entry

  • El Stevo

    Glad you enjoyed it dude! I couldn’t get on with the combat in the end, although I am considering another playthrough some time. I did enjoy the detail and backstory in the game, you can read about lore all day long if that’s your thing. The game is structured in a very similar way to Mass Effect – the codex, the world map and the dialogue system are all functionally identical to ME. If you like the way that stuff works here, you’d probably like ME, even if sci-fi isn’t you’re thing. A good story is a good story I reckon.

  • Synyster Graves

    Mass Effect is actually on my radar as several sources now (including yourself) have mentioned how similar the radial menus are. Mass Effect however is huge as with the imminent release of the third one I will probably want to play all three back to back, which will consume a lot of time, which I’ll have to find from somewhere!

Leave a Reply