Dragon Age: Origins
Do you have a few days to spare?
Posted 3 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
As gamers, we are always looking for the best possible deal when it comes to how we spend our hard earned cash. We deserve a product that is not only enjoyable but worth every penny we pay for it. BioWare have been known to give gamers the absolute most with their titles and this holds true with their latest release, Dragon Age: Origins. This game, which borrows elements from their previous productions, ends up being one of the most expansive titles of the year and one that nearly every RPG fan will eat up.
Dragon Age: Origins is a pretty standard Western influenced Role Playing Game. You take on the role of one of six possible character types, thrown into the world of Fereldan where evil forces called Darkspawn have returned in the hopes of reigning destruction on all the land.
It’s hard nowadays to give gamers a truly unique or original story and while Dragon Age borrows from a lot of other sources, it is the amount of content available that makes it stand out. You can choose to be either Human, Dwarf or Elf and either a Rogue, Mage or Warrior. The combination of those traits and origins determines your starting story. If you begin as a Dalish Elf Rogue, your story begins in the forest and the discover a mysterious mirror; choose to start off as a Human Magi and your story commences as you prepare to become a proper Mage.
Every story starts off differently but they all lead into the game’s grand story involving the approaching Darkspawn forces, their Arch-Demon leader and a fellow nobleman who has his own plans to rule the land. As with all BioWare stories, the way in which you proceed afterwards is entirely up to you; play it smart and try to gather all the help you can get or take things upon yourself, there is no real right or wrong decision.
The engrossing and extremely deep storyline is followed by a strong emphasis on battle. As you progress through the story, depending on how you approach it, you will be placed in a number of very difficult situations.
Combat is done in pseudo real-time encompassing a lot of strategic elements into the mix. You and your party will need to work together in order to defeat your foes and this requires a lot of work. While the ability to use hot keys on the keyboard allows you to make quick moves, console owners must rely on the shoulder buttons in order to trigger their abilities and skills in combat.
Selecting items, casting spells or performing various combat actions are done by selecting the corresponding face buttons with the right trigger giving you access to three additional abilities. If you want to change anything, you will need to go through the radial menus by pressing and holding the left trigger.
As with the PC version, you have the ability to adjust your team’s battle tactics in a number of different ways. It is certainly more streamlined on the console but it still can be quite cumbersome. Also, you are required to dig for the tactics option, so most console players will probably be inclined to merely leave the set-up default and not make any changes.
The AI is competent at times, though they are not without fault. Sometimes their first reaction is not always the best and this will force you to pause and push them in different directions. Veteran players will be able to deal with this without problems but newcomers will quickly get frustrated with the constant management your party requires.
While combat is enjoyable, there are still some noticeable problems that are persistent throughout. The game’s difficulty does tend to jump a lot. Some battles will be an absolute walk in the park, but other times you will be hoping to have one character stay alive long enough to merely survive battle. Another problem with the difficulty stems from the lack of resources available to you. If your team lacks a Mage that can heal your party, you will be relying on your supply of health items to keep you going. This wouldn’t be a problem if the supplies available to you weren’t so grossly limited.
The story explains the sudden lack of supplies but even when you are trying to ration out the use, there are still times when you will not have enough. Another issue with supplies revolves around the weapons and loot that you collect. There were often times when both the gear that I found and the items that were available to purchase were hardly any more powerful than what I was already wearing. Because of that, you won’t notice your characters being a true force on the battlefield until late in the game.
Even with the gripes in regards to the difficulty and supplies, the story alone is worth the price of admission here. This is where Dragon Age: Origins shines. Even after the six different introductory sections, you can still play through the story in a number of different ways. There is a lot of history involving all three races. Depending on your character, the way in which NPCs converse with you can be completely different. There is so much dialogue here to the point that even the sex of your character can net completely different conversation trees.
Graphics and Sound
Console owners will feel a bit disappointed with how Dragon Age: Origins looks. By no means is it a bad looking game, but this was certainly built with the Personal Computer in mind. You still will get some great looking areas but the detail will be lacking, especially close-up.
All of the characters you encounter, be it friend, foe or otherwise are extremely detailed There is certainly repetition with the generic NPCs but every meaningful character you converse with is significantly different.
The graphics, though, are not perfect. There are a lot of glitches in the game and the graphics suffer from this the most. Characters will lose pieces of armour, look odd and even sometimes stand directly in front of you during conversations. It’s never to the point that it ruins the game but it can be comical when a character is talking only to have a member of your party block the shot.
Unfortunately for console players, there is no way of adjusting the camera. Due to the limitation of the hardware and the controller, there is no way to offer the same adjustable camera perspectives available to PC owners. It’s doesn’t completely break the gameplay, but when dealing with a lot of foes you won’t have the opportunity to see what lies ahead or to watch all your party members deal with their respective foes at the same time.
With such a deep story, you have to give the voice actors a lot of credit. There are so many characters in the game and with such a large library of dialogue options to choose from, the fact that each important character has so much depth to them is incredible. Added that you can choose to be male or female and the differences in race, the amount of time spent in the studio must have been in the 100s of hours.
Coupled with the dialogue is the fantastic score. The use of music in every stage is so meticulously chosen that you will often feel an even stronger connection to the story. From the tense battles to simply walking around a village, there is never a moment when the music feels out of place. There are even times when no music exists but the ambient sounds do more than enough to keep you immersed in the environment. This is by far the best use of sound in a game I have played in a long time.
If you need to occupy yourself with only one title for a long period of time, Dragon Age: Origins is without a doubt your best choice. Thanks to the 6 different origin stories, open-paths and different choices available to you, you can play this a few times and get a completely different experience every time.
It’s clear that Dragon Age: Origins was built with the PC in mind but regardless of that fact, a fantastic story, great cast of characters and expansive world still make this an incredible experience. Those who have a computer and want more depth in their role playing games should most certainly grab the PC version. For those who just want to get into a bloody battle and spend a long period of time enjoying it, they will most certainly not be disappointed.