While most people out there in the game-o-sphere have been busying themselves with Modern Warfare 2, I decided to instead pick up a little game from this small developer out of Canada. Perhaps you’ve heard of them, they go by the name BioWare and their newest epic Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age: Origins, in my opinion, was sent to die being released this close to MW2, as it is missing three key components:
- It lacks guns
- It isn’t modern
- No dedicated servers for it’s non-existent multiplayer
However, it makes up for this by delivering a fantastic story, creating fantastic characters and giving the game a truly epic feeling. It’s been a while since I played a game that had an the same feel as DA:O. Simply put, it’s great.
The long of it is this: it’s a friggen BioWare game. Let’s look at the track record: Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, Jade Empire, the list goes on. DA:O is the next drop in the bucket towards BioWare’s march to greatness. Since it is a BioWare game, all the BioWare trademarks are there: multiple dialogue choices that affect how people perceive you, multiple relationship storylines, abundant amount a side quests and character death are all included. So, you are asking yourselves, what makes Dragon Age stand out?
I truly believe it’s the amount of openness in the game itself. Upon thinking about it, a person could easily finish the game in a matter of hours, if you decide to basically ignore the mass of side missions. The game does not have too many main story missions. It is actually one of the small disappointments of such an epic game, that being that it relies so heavily on you wanting to explore the world. The game’s main story missions all have a feeling of epicness to them. One minute you’re fighting a Dragon and the next you’re trapped in a dream world where you gain the ability to shapeshift. Where as the side missions are all relatively short and don’t offer much other than some flavor to develop the world. It all goes by too quickly though, especially with the amount of lore they created for the world. It’s clear that BioWare wants to go somewhere with this IP as they fleshed out the world more so then most other games I’ve seen in a long time. However, they would tell you about all these interesting locations and countries remain to be just stories to help flesh the games world out.
The game’s big draw is that you can choose the origin of your main character and play through a scenario specific to that origin. The game offers six origins for you to play through: two for elves, two for dwarves, one for humans and one for being a mage character. You can be one of three different starting classes: Warrior, Rouge and Mage. Unless you decide to play as a dwarf, who can’t use magic, you can pick any of the three to start your game. As you progress, your main character can gain specialties for your specific class. Each of the three also has four of these specialties making character customization slightly limited, but still remain personal to the player.
BioWare once again does a great job of bringing to life your team members. Each one has their own unique personality and styles that they make clear to you. The only character I didn’t like was your first ally, Allister, who is made out to be sarcastic, chivalrous, and naïve. If this was Dn,D he would be the lawful good character, (remember kids: lawful good is awful stupid.) As the game progressed he started sounding more and more like a kid right out of the knight academy, though I guess that may as well be what his story was.
I built up Allister specifically to make a point. Being my least favorite character in the game, I really didn’t use him all that often, setting him aside for more interesting tanks like Shale, the DLC exclusive golem, who reminds me of a certain smack talking robot from another BioWare game. As I got near the end of the game, an event happens where you can choose to lose Allister for good just like a specific scene in Mass Effect. In Mass Effect however, I had no qualms about who I chose to save, for me it was the anti-alien Williams over the pretty boy Kaiden. So I reached a similar situation here in DA:O, at first I had no problem choosing the option that would lead to Allister leaving, then as I played out the scene taking options that made him angry, I generally began to feel bad and guilty about treating him the way I did. It was one of the few times I’ve generally felt bad about making a choice like that. And this was for a character that for the majority of the game, I ignored. I have to applaud BioWare for the great writing and being able to make an emotionless jerk, like me, feel bad.
There is no post game, sadly. The game introduces a lot of flavor about other countries and their worlds and I would have liked to explore those even a little after the game was over.
I’ve got to say this about DA:O, it’s the best Dungeons and Dragon game I’ve ever played, and its not even related to DnD. Hopefully, BioWare will fix the few problems the game has: minor slow down, a few response glitches, the game occasionally replaying a scene for no apparent reason. The game could have also benefitted from more starting classes and origins.
Go do yourself a favor this holiday season. If you’re looking to buy a game for a friend, or even for yourself, buy Dragon Age as it could get overlooked this crowded holiday season.
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