Review by rabies_delight
"Another Bioware title sure to please."
I will start by saying that I have always loved Bioware's RPGs going back to the early licensed games. For anyone that also shares a love of the Baldur's Gate Games, Neverwinter Nights, or Knights of the Old Republic, just skip the review and go immediately to your local retailer for a copy. Those of you that have not gotten the opportunity to play these classics please read on.
Ok this is one place that could be a bit better. The graphics are not as bad as some reviews or blogs would have us believe. However, there are places that nuisance detail is lacking. For example: Early on in the game you end up storming a tower. The walls are rather bland, and the items such as crates, weapons racks, etc do not really jump out or come life. Instead, they are a bit flat and bland looking. Despite these types of problems, containers that you can loot have sparkling trails so you will not miss them. Additional many people have complained about the colors being flat and muted. I do not really think this is true. Instead if one realizes (as the box says) this is a DARK fantasy. Accordingly, the world looks grimmer in the muted dark tones. Overall, the game is not a gorgeous as some of the FPS on the market, but not the ugly mess that many people have claimed. The other complaint I can offer is that some of the menu script could be a bit bigger. I am playing on a smaller sized HD and if I had anything smaller or an SD I would not be able to read the menus.
This is one of the places that DAO really shines. The POV is third person with up to four party members. The action is a fluid real time combat. You can pause during battles by bring up a tactical menu. You are also able to switch between party members during battle to give orders if you chose. If micro managing is not your thing, there is the option to set up tactics for your party (think gambits in FF XII). Aside from combat, the menus are easy to use, inventory management is smooth and logical, and simple things like quest logs and map access are intuitive and user friendly. My only real complaint about mechanics is that you cannot loot a corpse if there is still an agro monster around. This may be realistic, but I have found it annoying to kill a small mob then have to run away across the map to kill one lone monster, then come back to loot. However, this is really not that big of a deal as encounters are structured in a way that always lets you get back to your goodies.
The music in the game is not bad. Mostly there is simple background music that helps with the flow of the areas. Battles are marked by fight music like many games and help to signal when combat starts and ends. The voice acting is pretty good for the party members. It is on par with KOTOR or Mass Effect quality. Random non quest NPCs are just OK, but they are hardly a large part of the game.
The core of the story is interesting and gives some unique twists in the fantasy genre. Although it fulfills many standard fantasy ideas (what fantasy movie/game/book doesn't?) the story gets much darker than many games set in a High Fantasy world. Care was taken to develop mature and engrossing political and religious strife. However, where the story element really shines is during dialogue. Plot motivating NPCs and party members offer complex conversations that unveil a rich world full of interesting twists and turns. Many unique viewpoints come from the different characters and truly help to immerse the player in the game.
There are six origin stories that each have a several hour subplot. After that, you can shape the story based on your reactions during conversation and actions. There are many achievements for trying different classes and romance options. Additionally there are many quests and side quest some with unique methods of resolution. Finally, the character customization allows you to make multiple versions of each class that play completely differently. There is enough here to keep any RPG fan busy for a very long time.
Overall Rating 9/10
This is a great game. It offers many options that seasoned RPG players will love. It contains many complexities, yet is user friendly enough that a newbie to the genre can catch on and learn the ropes. Minor issues with graphics and lettering size are present, but only really a problem with tiny or older TVs. Fans of Bioware, or WRPGs in general will find a lot to love about this game with only a few flaws to forgive. Now if you will excuse me, I have a dwarf assassin that has some dark spawn to kill.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/09/09
Game Release: Dragon Age: Origins (US, 11/03/09)
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