Review: Dragon Age: Origins
When previews for this really started coming out, and the title of ‘Spiritual Successor to Baldur’s Gate‘ hit the streets, I was completely hyped up for this game. Baldur’s Gate managed to keep you glued to your seat as you built up a character and during your first playthrough, didn’t show you any mercy as you walked through towns to have a mage blast you into bloody bits all over the road.
Dragon Age: Origins is almost a side step from Baldur’s Gate II. While just ignoring the lack of multiplayer (which would have been a good option), the game doesn’t give you the freedom the originals did, especially if you’re going for an evil path. Murdering people is not out of the question, but it does lack the ability to murder the members in your party. Why would you want to do this? You’re evil! What do you care if Alistair dies?
If you really don’t compare the original Baldur’s Gate with Dragon Age: Origins, you’ll end up having a lot more fun. The first few hours I played, I was frustrated with the game. It felt too much like the same type of game I played many years ago, and yet, felt like more was missing from it. Sort of like it was a dumbed-down Baldur’s Gate. After I came back to the game, I ignored the ‘Spiritual Successor’ bit and treated the game respectful. I treated it like an origin to a new fantasy role-playing game. This is when the game was hard to put down.
The story is all the same as the previous fantasy role-playing games we’ve played before. Ultimate evil is coming and you must save the world from destruction. It’s nothing completely original, but the role they put you in puts a good twist on things. You can start as either a human, elf, or dwarf. Each story can take you through the path as a noble or a peasant, yet, it really doesn’t do much to change the overall story for any character. Throughout the game, you’ll meet up with several characters, who’ll help you through your quest and help bring chaos to an end. If you’re planning on soloing this game, forget about it. You’ll die too many times, even on easy, especially towards the end.
The character creation is pretty simple and not as detailed as older Bioware games, but it does the trick. You’re not going to worry about choosing your ‘god’ or your lawful/neutral/evil characteristics. You’re mainly focused on your look. Basic beard, hair, and shape patterns are for the picking. On the bright side, if you set up your Social Bioware profile, the storyline behind your character will generate and be saved, which is a great time saver for those looking to write the character’s life story.
For a game with at least a week’s worth of dialog, each actor really pours themselves into the the voice work. Each character’s voice sets a mood for their personality unlike I’ve seen in most games before. When a character was speaking with mine, I felt generally interested in what they had to say. While you’re main character is much like that of mute Super Mario, the people around you make up for the talking, and boy, do they talk. But the dialog is so well written that you don’t mind having a thirty minute conversation with a team member or noble in the game.
Your choices effect how people react to you. This effects the characters in your party, as well as the quest givers. If you’re being too nice to people, certain members in your party will grow a hatred for you and leave eventually. Slitting too many innocent throats? Expect the goody two shoes characters to leave. If they got anything right from the Baldur’s Gate games, it’s in this department. How you react can generally shape the outcome of the game. It might not seem like it at the beginning, but the closer you get to the end, the more you see how well or bad you effected a certain area by your choices.
During the game, you’ll encounter several quest, which don’t rely on grinding such as standard World of WarCraft quests. These quest are more story-line driven, and have you communicate with people for the outcome. Thankful, there’s a fast travel to areas so you won’t be doing the extensive traveling like you do in bigger games like Morrowind. The camp is a nice little additive for those who need to find an enchanter (a weird one, at that) and a item shop. Plus, you can catch up on the latest gossip from your allies.
Graphically, the game looks really good and hardly ever drops in frames unless there’s a massive stream of magic flying at you. The textures on the PlayStation 3 are not very muddy at all, and if you never look at the PC shots, you probably won’t even care. There’s also a lot going on, especially during epic battles, so the fact that the game looks as good as it does shouldn’t bother anyone when you see a slight frame drop. Aside from the graphics, the sounds are just fine. The music was well composed, however, the sounds generally made me more tired than I was while playing.
The few issues that I did find with the game came from scripting errors, and the reason I don’t find the game to be more of a higher score. The first quest I got from the game busted on me and stayed in my quest log the whole game. It was a human noble quest and after you leave your home, you really can’t finish the quest. I missed a good chunk of the beginning of the human noble story because of this glitch that skipped me to a random scene where the noble story was over. This wasn’t the only time this happened. I had to restart a save from one even during a theft quest. I couldn’t turn in the completed quest and the person to turn it into kept saying, “Come back when you have the item.”, even though I was holding it. This should have been corrected before release.
Overall, it’s a good game. There’s a few minor complaints, and I feel that just adding an option to quest with my friends would have added a lot more depth to the game than the single player elitist believe. I’m very excited to see this game carry over well since I’m hoping they really pump out a much better sequel in the future.
Reviewed on the PlayStation 3.