It is very rare that a game can so engross you in the plot line it’s nearly impossible to put down. Dragon Age: Origins was that game for me, and I was pleased to see it offered just about everything I could have looked for in a video game experience. It is one of the very few games I have played in recent memories that literally took me on a sort of rollercoaster ride.
Now, I am going to try to go light on the spoilers, but I will warn you there will be some (especially about the beginning of the main plot) spoken of in this article. You’ve been told!
Granted, I will be the first to admit the game’s plot is not new to the fantasy world: a war is about to begin against twisted, evil monsters known as darkspawn, and it is up to you and your party to gather the troops and fight the menace off. Depending on your race and class, your (customizable) character eventually is drawn into this battle, becoming part of a group of great heroes called the Grey Wardens that have protected the countryside since olden times. Of couse, even with that status, your journey is not to be an easy one. You must contend with betrayal, assassins, curses, racism, and corrupt government systems.
All in a day’s work for the fantasy hero though, eh?
While it might be easy to push aside the game as Just Another Fantasy Game, in reality the game is a rich experience that shouldn’t be passed up. What it lacks in unique story it makes up for in a cast of characters that is hard not to care about by the end of the game. Each have distinct personalities and background stories that you can choose to probe deeper into if you so wish to. The dialogue is absolutely hysterical, to the point I actually laughed out loud at many points in the game. In fact, it is that dialogue that actually encourages you to mix up your parties, as your party members banter with each other as you walk around. Many of those conversations end up being real highlights of the game, and stopping and listenig to them became a common occurance quickly.
Now, I will make a small aside that I also really enjoy the romancing system in this game. It’s nothing special, per se, but I think it’s noteworthy enough just for the interestingly vast amount of pairings you can have. It is also inteesting to see the game is unabashed by its spectrum of sexual orientations, which I think is fairly rare to the extent that is shown is this game. Not only is it an option, but even the NPCs speak of it, leading to some fairly funny moments in the game. Not only that, but the game encourages getting to know everyone in at least a friendly sense, as that is the only way you will hear chunks of their backstory. While it’s not needed for the main storyline, it adds to the game and is absolutely something that should be strived for.
The game itself is gorgeous, though that is come to be expeced from the new generation games. Areas are well drawn and in a style that makes you feel like you’re part of a very old period of time. The CGI events are especially noteworthy, as such intricate detail was put into every single one of them – especially when a dragon is involved. While I think the quality of graphics makes for the somewhat longer loading screens, it is well worth the wait for the most part. My favorite little thing they put in and didn’t have to was the kill animation that happens sometimes. Seeing your character leap upon an ogre and smashing your blade into its head or watching him or her jump upon a dragon has never been so satisfying. That the game even concentrates on the tiniest details such as keeping the characters bloodied all throughout dungeons where they are hacking and slashing things up shows just how much detail they put into it.
Another thing worth noting is it also has several modes of difficulty, allowing the player to customize it to their liking. Gamers who are interested in the story only can place the game on casual, making the battles somewhat difficult but not needing too much planning ahead to fight them. As you get higher in difficulty ranking – nightmare being the hardest – the fights become increasingly harder and need much more stragedy to win. You lose no content picking the easier mode, and even in that mode, there is still a real chance of dying if you just run in with swords raised.
Dragon Age is not without its flaws, however – on the console version, at least. Admittedly, having only a couple of buttons to mess around with in terms of fighting actions makes the computer version with the UI interface much more flexible and easy to work with. The console version also suffers in terms of the camera – while in the computer version, you can zoom in and out and more or less mess around with it, the console version only allows you to stick right behind the character, and sometimes things are missed in the process. Both gripes are not even close to game breakers, however, and the console version still is very much workable – it just takes a little more practice.
Overall, this game is amazing and has a very high replay value. There is hours and hours of content and many paths to get you to your final destination. If you are an RPG fan, this is one game that should be on your must have lists this holiday season. The game is out now on PS3, XBOX 360, and the PC. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.