Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dragon Age Origins Review.

Please note that this review is for the PC version, so things written here may not apply to the PS3 version of Dragon Age, if you have a choice play the PC version as its simply better.


Its a little hard to review a game as massive as Dragon Age, released in 2009 Dragon age won a ton of awards and acclaim for almost every aspect of the game, the question is, does it deserve all the attention it got? have a look below.



Pretty epic trailer, so lets talk about the game.
Story.

Dragon Age takes place in Ferelden where every few hundred years a horde of demons called Darkspawn would emerge on the surface and try to take it over, this occurs at the same time as a civil war erupts, and its up to you to solve this situation.
Not the handsomest group of demons..
You start the game with one of six origins stories, the origin stories determine who you are in the world, you can be a dwarven prince, a newly graduated elf mage or a high born human, the origin stories are fun by themselves and its worth playing all 6 just to find out what you can be. Your origin story also determines how other characters react to you, if you're a dwarf then when you visit the dwarf city certain people will remember who you are and what you did in your origin story. All origin stories end though with the player being recruited by the grey wardens and going to Ostagar, after that you get to decide what quests to tackle and in which order.

The story of Dragon Age is one of its strongest aspects, its deep, engaging and fascinating but perhaps the best part of the story is basically how you get to write it yourself, Bioware gives you choices at every juncture allowing you to shape the world around you. Will you save a group of elves or ally with the werewolves and kill them? do you have sympathy for mages or do you think all magic is evil? who do you think should be the next dwarf king?

Dragon Age gives you choices for almost every quest big and small and these decisions change the world greatly, there is no morality here its all up to you to decide what is right and what is wrong, you can solve problems with persuasion and money or you can kill whoever bothers you, its your world and your decisions.

Characters.

The characters in Dragon Age are what make the story work so well, you'll have a rag-tag group of weirdos like every RPG does, a former spy turned nun, a royal bastard, a witch, an assassin... oh and a dog cause every team needs a pet.

All the characters in your party have a goal and a background, they joined you for a reason and through your interactions with them you'll learn about their history and motivation, they will respond to your decisions as well, do something they agree with and you gain their approval, do something they dislike and you lose approval from them. your allies are your best source of morality in this game in fact, good characters will get mad at you if you perform evil deeds while evil characters will encourage you to do them, and should you anger an ally enough they will leave you or even attack you.

You can also influence how your partners grow in this game, for example Alistair is hesitant to become king and you can tell him he shouldn't be or you can help him become a more pragmatic person who looks forward to becoming a king, Leliana is a former assassin who believes that she receives vision from God and you can either strengthen her faith or turn her back into her evil roots, Morrigan is a witch who believes strength rules over everything else but you can make her fall in love with you turning her into a softie really.

I'm sure people like Morrigan for her personality..
But its not just the people on your team that are interesting, almost everyone you talk to will want something or have a story to tell so its worth just running around towns to learn what everyone has to say, certain characters who don't seem very important might turn up later in the game and will remember what you did when you first met them so exploring and interacting with the world will come back to affect you later

Audio and Music.

The music in Dragon Age is adequate to be honest, its not particularly impressive but nor is it bad in anyway, you simply wont notice it much because the game doesn't really have any outstandingly good or bad music. You might be better off just playing whatever tunes you like in the background instead.

The voice acting on the other hand is very impressive, every word of dialogue is voice recorded and it really adds to the feel of the game, even random villagers who don't have much to say will have a voice and you can feel the emotion behind the words that people say, since your decisions affect what others will say its sometimes fun to just troll people to hear how sad you can make them * evil chuckle* not that I ever do that of course.

You can skip the dialogue and mute the audio if you want buts its honestly more fun to just listen to people talk, not every voice is pleasing though (I'm looking at you Anora).



Gameplay.

As I mentioned before you start the game by picking an origin story, this origin story will depend on your race and class, there are 3 races and 3 classes in Dragon Age and they are human, elf and dwarf. While your race determines how you affect the story, your class is what game play will count on, you can be a warrior, a rogue and a mage and they each come with their own set of skills and talents, once you pick your class at the start of the game you cant change it later so pick wisely.



The Warrior is easily my favourite, being basically a brute you can choose to pick up a sword and shield, a weapon in each hand or giant hammers and axes, the warrior rushes into the front line wearing the biggest Armour he can and engaging as many opponents as possible, the warrior is the "tank" of the group.

Next is the Rogue who is an expert at lock picking, stealing and disabling traps, the Rogue can fight at long range with a bow or close range with a dagger, Rogues are probably the most versatile class in the game and are capable of doing a lot of different things.

Finally we have the Mage which you should be able to tell what he does just from his name, Mages use magic ( that's a shocker!) to defeat their opponents, they can also heal and cast disabling spells if they choose to.

Mages have some beautiful visual effects.
Every time you level up you get points to spend into your stats and talents, you can level up all the way to level 25 but you wont be able to max out every skill with a single character so you have to pick your skills wisely as their is no redo button, take a skill you don't like and you're stuck with it all game long.

Combat in Dragon Age has your avatar along with 3 other characters facing the Darkspawn, at certain points in the game you are joined by random NPC's in a fight or are forced to use a certain character in your party but for the most part you will decide who gets to join you on your battles.

Battles can be paused to issue commands to every character, this is an extremely useful feature in high difficulties as this game requires a lot of tactics and positioning to win, you can pause to use potions, issue the next command or order where your heroes should go, you have to position your party adequately with mages and archers in the back and warriors keeping the enemy busy, you also have to make sure you don't hurt your own team mates with friendly fire as magic attacks can hurt everyone caught in their radius friend or foe.

You can zoom in and out of combat for whatever view you enjoy.
The combat in Dragon Age is well made, its fun without being too easy or difficult as any enemy can be defeated with the right tactics, unfortunately it does tend to be a bit slow and unlike the story which offers a lot of variety you'll mostly face the same enemies all game long, not only that but after playing the game once you'll tend to get bored of combat as it has a very " been there done that" feeling to it in later levels, not to mention that you get obscenely powerful in later stages of the game, foregoing tactics and just firing whatever you have at the enemy.

Another major issue with combat is how it sometimes feels unresponsive, you might order your character to hit an enemy but instead of straight away slashing they will tend to follow them for a while to land a blow, or they will hit them but the enemy dies 6 feet away from where they were struck, making combat frustrating for melee characters.

Sadly not every monster is as impressive as this one.
Re-playability.

Dragon Age is definitely worth playing again after finishing it, there are many achievements to unlock and some of them cant be achieved in one play through as they will require you to join different sides of the same conflict to acquire, not only that but playing the game with a different class makes you experience the game in a completely different way, trying out a mage after a warrior helps keep combat fresh after multiple games even though combat isn't really that great to begin with.

Conclusion.

Pros
+ Great story and characters.
+ Interesting system for morality.
+ Combat is generally fun.
+ Voice acting is impressive ( on some characters).
+ Game is very long, up to 50+ hours.

Cons
- Combat can sometimes be clumsy and slow.
- Lack of enemy variety.
- Some NPC sound like banshees.
- Game is very long, making multiple playthroughs just to experience different stories very time consuming.

To conclude this review, I'd say everyone should try this game, it may not be your cup of tea but its still an awesome ride to experience at least once, hope you enjoyed this review.