Posted by Maeve, 22 Nov, 2010 | 1 Comment »
The 2009 release from Bioware, Dragon Age: Origins takes you on a medieval journey that combines the skill of ancient warriors, the destruction of fire breathing dragons and the terror of underworld creatures into a cryptic and mystical tale. With stunning graphics and a detailed storyline, the player is thrown right into the heart of the land of Fereldan and it’s impending destruction.
You play a Grey Warden, part of an ancient order of warriors responsible for protecting Ferelden from the vile Dark Spawn.The world has been thrust into chaos and you are responsible for reuniting the lands, ending the swarming plague known as The Blight and defeating the feared arch nemesis.
Along the way you meet and create bonds with characters from all walks of life within the Kingdom. The game allows you to form stronger bonds with certain character, changing the way they react to you by performing certain tasks and exchanging gifts and skills.
One of the key features of the game is the ability to create and develop your character in an endless array of possibilities. You can choose the race, gender, type of warrior and even create and style your character right down to facial features and hair styles.
The game offers several choices of race such as Human, Mage, Dwarf or Elf. From here you can develop your character into a totally customised warrior depending on the skills you choose to apply. You could choose Rogue who tend to strike from behind or the shadows and can develop into experts at picking locks and dual weapon skills. Or as a Mage, you can harness your inner power to create and learn powerful spells and elemental attacks as well as defence and healing techniques. You can also develop specific specialisations such as Arcane Warrior, shape shifter or spiritual healer.
You can upgrade weapons and armour along the way and every step of your journey is recorded in the Codex. These are just a few options available to mould and form your character into the ultimate fighter. The storyline can go in depth with additional side quests which are completed to improve your team member’s perception and approval rating of you. Your decisions can also alter the story line depending on your level of persuasion. This isn’t to say the storyline drags on, as you can choose what quests to complete and which to dismiss and also how the game pans out. The main story has a good flow but I feel it ended too soon and could have gone on longer or perhaps included a little more emotion. With the new expansion pack however, you are able to reunite with lost team members or delve further into a previous quest to satisfy your curiosity.
The success of your journey also comes down to your communication with your team members. You have the ability to improve your teams perception of you or risk losing them altogether if their approval rating of you drops. It may be in your best interest to keep your team members happy. Losing a powerful ally could be devastating to your journey. Keeping up relationships will also allow you to unlock certain skills from other team members and strengthen their role in the team.
This can make for very interesting game play as you are faced not only with bone crushing enemies, but also moral decisions that will determine your journey and make or break your friendships. The way they interact with each other can also provide for entertainment along the way as the question, irritate and flirt with each other.
The game isn’t just about the story line though. With sophisticated battle sequence, you can use strategy and skill to defeat your enemies instead of plain brute force. While you ultimately control one character at a time you have the ability to assign other team member to specific attacks modes and perform different roles in a battle. You could assign team members to perform long range attacks, such as Mage or Archers while you concentrate on a different enemy. This ability comes in handy when fighting multiple enemies or fighting a “boss” that calls on enemies to distract you from the main target.
Dragon Age: Origins also gives you the ability to pause the game in battle to work out your strategic direction. This can be a very useful function depending on the difficulty of the enemy, unless of course you can move around your controls quick enough before you’re demolished. It can take a few battles to pick up the controls and feature, but once you do you’ll be able to control each character exactly how you want and devise strategies for defeating the biggest, ugliest enemies.
The graphics in Dragon Age: Origins are clear but could be better considering the quality of other role playing games being released. That being said, the game is not taken over by hundreds of cut scenes of Hollywood movie quality, leaving more time for you to control the game and do what you want. There can be copious amounts of dialogue, much of which is interesting and gives you several options to respond with. If you do find yourself tiring of it though, it can be fast tracked at the push of a button. Most of it is relevant though and can leave you wanting more interaction with certain characters.
The music is a standout and is well suited to the era and situations you find yourself in, adding to the excitement of battle.
All in all, I would say Dragon Age: Origins is well and truly the best game of 2009 and the awards prove just that. It is a game you can really be involved in as you form a certain bond with some characters. You feel a part of the journey so much so, you don’t want it to end and it leaves a lasting impression on you.
Overall Game-play 9.5/10
Review by Brydie Kelly
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