Dragon Age Origins was announced long enough ago that it was on the inaugural cover of the late Games for Windows magazine, back in 2006. Now, three – going on four – years later, we the gaming public finally have our hands on it. Has it’s delays benifited it like Team Fortress 2, or should it have gone the way of Duke Nukem Forever?
Make no mistake: this game is great. The long development cycle was worth it. Everything about this game says, “we wanted to work on it until it was done right,” and you can’t argue with the results. From the six origin stories and the developed game world to the great gameplay and the involving story, this is gaming at it’s finest.
My first character was a male human noble warrior, and his tale involved me from the beginning. I’d hate to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll avoid details. However, I will say that it was completely different from my life as a dwarven warrior commoner (or ‘duster’ as they’re called) or elven mage. These origin stories didn’t sound like anything more then window dressing to me, but having played them, I can see BioWare’s vision. They really do involve you in your avatar in a way previously unseen.
The controls aren’t that tight, to be honest. I’ve found myself fumbling at time in combat when I shouldn’t be, but the battles are so good and the fighting mechanics so fun that I can overlook the fact that I tend to overrun my enemies or click the wrong target at times. The conversations could be more convenient too, with slightly easier to select answers. As it stands, it’s easier to hit an answer’s key then click on a response because of their location (extreme bottom left of the screen) and small size.
The story of forming an army to fight off the Blight (an invasion of demons from the ‘Fade,’ a spirit plane) isn’t entirely original, but c’mon, after all these years you’d need one heck of an angle to write a high-fantasy story that doesn’t reference something that’s come before, and even if you did you would risk alienating people with it’s unfamiliarity. In this, I side with Bioware. It’s world of Ferelden is new and familiar at the same time, which is a perfect solution.
There’s not allot I can complain about with the music, sound effects or voice acting, so the audio presentation is solid. Visually, the game is a little dated, and at times doesn’t seem much beyond BioWare’s Xbox RPG Jade Empire, let alone the current gen Mass Effect. Characters tend to stand oddly with their arms a ways out to their sides (the better to fit different armor in without having to adjust their stance) and the facial animations aren’t real convincing. However, as with most of the rest of the game, it all comes together as something more then the sum of it’s parts.
Dragon Age: Origins is a game that every gamer owes it to themselves to play. These great RPGs don’t come around often, and this one is good enough to recommend to even non-role players. If you have a PC that can play it, I say not to hesitate – get this now. This is a gaming gem, and may well be the best game I’ve played this year. Alphasim out.