Dragon Age:Origins Review

Just a small review for this week’s entry. Last year, I bought Dragon Age: Origins, so I’m writing a review of the first game in the series now in anticipation of the “sequel” which should be released next month in March. First, one thing that bothers me about “classical” RPGs is that you can’t have a competent “frost mage.”  The fireball is always the default attack spell in the spellcaster arsenal. Unfortunately, I don’t like using the fireball, but I do like slowing down opponents with ice.  (Ice is a worthy adversary – ed.) So, I am beginning to get enthusiastic about Dragon Age: Origins, simply because I got to play as a true frost mage while kicking ass and taking names.

Now that we have that out of the way, lets talk about the “origins” part of the game. Technically, I only played one character from start to finish (an Elven “Frost” Mage), but I did each origins scenario and did start various characters that I never finished. I found the mage origin to be the most interesting, followed by the Dwarven Noble, city Elf and the Dalish. The human and Dwarven commoner origins were a bit too cliché for my taste, using themes I have seen numerous times in other works, although they were still well done and entertaining to play.

I’m satisfied with the game play (I’m using the default type of game mechanics) and I can adjust the difficulty depending on whether I want to micro-manage my team or limit

Anders casting a spell
Anders casting a spell

myself to control only my character. The tactics system was a welcome addition, saving me from clicking on a team member to make it drink a health poultice or from micro-managing the team healer. I did find the combat responsiveness to be a bit slow, characters don’t always respond to commands, which in some cases could mean a dead party. I did find some encounters felt more like “filler” though, existing simply to slow the player down. Overall, I preferred the Mage gameplay, although I found the backstabbing rogue quite nice as well.

Mabari Warhound saying hi to an undead
Mabari Warhound

Mood-wise, I both hated and liked the Deep Road part of the game. Hated because the underground map was really annoying and felt mostly like filler. Liked because some parts were really chilling (like the Broodmother backstory). My favorite part was The Fade, it simply felt magical to me and had interesting encounters. I also found Awakening to be better than Origins in terms of story; it had a better flow and more interesting characters for me. Origins needed to both explain the world and the story and I think it sometimes tried to do both at the same time with various degree of success. Also, the urgency of the plot is lost when there is no consequences if you take your time running around the countryside. I like BioWare’s companions, mostly for their party banter. I usually run around with Alistair and Wynne and it is worth it just to hear them chat things up.

As for technical issues, I was lucky. Besides one mod causing conflict with Awakening, only a few things happened to me: painful loading times, cutscene weirdness (I only see eyes?) and the famed Sigrun’s quest bug in Awakening. Otherwise the game runs smoothly for me (I do know that others were not so lucky).

In Conclusion, Dragon Ages is a good game if you like group based tactical RPGs (although, it can be played less tactical on easy) and for people who like their sword and sorcery with Dragons. It doesn’t try to be “new”, it just tries to be entertaining.

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