Saturday, November 14, 2009

Game Review: Dragon Age Origins

Note: This review is for Dragon Age: Origins on the Xbox 360. The gameplay may be different on the PC version, but I would not know.  However, most of my gripes are with the gameplay, so if it is different, please let me know!

Dragon Age Origins is a story about your character fighting Demons for the Gray Wardens (at least, as far as I've played it). I can summarize this review in one sentence.

Dragon Age: Origins? More like Dragon Age: BOREigins, amirite?

The game is a classic fantasy RPG version of KOTOR. Throughout the game, you're leveling up various characters with various backgrounds, which actually makes for a pretty decent story.

You can start out as one of three races (Dwarf, Elf, Human), one of three classes (Warrior, Rogue, Mage), and one of 6 backgrounds (which determine the first part of the game). Not every class/race/background combination is available. As you get experience and level up, you can increase your character's stats, skills, and combat talents.

The fighting is in real time and you can control any of the people on your team. In addition, you can set up the tactics for the AI, using a complex system of If/Then commands, which is actually pretty cool.

Graphics: 4/5
The graphics on this game are just what I would expect a BioWare game to look like: very nice with little flavor. The graphics are well polished, but there's nothing that stands out as interesting or edgy.

Gameplay: 3/5
This is a sore point I have. None of the new combat talents stick out and scream "I want that!" Each class seems to be well balanced, but at the cost of being less powerful. It definitely gives a grittier feel, but it also turns into somewhat monotonous and boring combat. Almost as boring as the dialog!

Speaking of boring dialog, I wonder how many hours of the more than 100 hours of play time are dialog.  Gimme subtitles, so I can skip through the people who talk like they've been hit in the head one too many times.

I also wish they had a tutorial on using the tactic system. It's fun working through it to find combinations, but there are literally hundreds of tactics you can set up, and it's frustrating trying to find the one that makes the mage enchant your weapons with frost power all the time.

Story: 4/5
Good, strong story as always. It's a classic fantasy and hasn't blown my mind yet, but they actually put a lot of thought into it. Once again, the appropriate term is polished. The story is very polished.

Overall: 11/15
This is a solid game that is worth playing through.  I just expect a little bit more from BioWare.  Maybe fantasy just isn't my genre anymore...
Better than: A sharp stick in the eye (or any stick, for that matter)
Worse than: Mass Effect
Words of Wisdom: Buy backpacks from vendors when you get the chance, so you don't run out of space. Also bring crossword puzzles or sudoku to do while they talk. That way, you can hear the important parts but be a little more productive with your time.

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