Thursday, January 7, 2010
Dragon Age: Origins
So I got an email the other day title "Dude, where's my blog?", short and to the point, T-Bone stated, "You haven't updated in a while, what's up?". Hmm, that's a good question, normally I'm posting quite a bit, painting figures, playing tons o' game, you know, the good stuff. So to answer the question, where have I been? Ferelden.
I started off my adventure the day after I got it as a present for Christmas. It definitely pulls you and becomes quite the blackhole of a time sink. I could tell you it's a fantasy RPG, yada yada yada, but I'll leave the official reviews to the pros like on GameSpot and Diehard GamFAN. Needless to say, it's obvious I've been enjoying it.
You're tromping around a big ole fantasy world, putting the hurt on some bad guys, and solving tons of little sidequests, if you choose, or you can jump right into the expansive storyline. The 'origins' part of the title, I'm guessing, comes from the fact that you play your character from the beginning, their origin tale. I was impressed right out of the gate, my Dwarf noble rogue backstory was well written, had plenty of twists, and really got me invested in the game right from the beginning. It took a couple of hours to play through the opening too, so it's not just tacked on, it's incredibly thought out with repercussions stemming from your actions and decisions that last throughout the game.
That's the other thing, you are given free reign and tons of dialogue options to pretty much do whatever you want. You can stick to being goody-goody and help your fellow man, you can go the dark route and take on assassination missions and robberies, or do what I do, play somewhere in the middle of the road. By the time I was done, there were several missions (sidequests) on my to-do list that never got finished because I made decisions that took me in other directions. Given this, you've got tons of replay value. Different character options; race and class, and tons of different paths to take.
Gaining allies is another key facet to the game, and how you make choices in the game will gain them or not. I was talking with a buddy about my one of my favorite characters who I rescued from a cage and used ever since. They weren't able to get the character out at all and ended up playing the whole game without them. There's plenty of options in who you add to the group, so if you miss one along the way, there will be more chances.
It doesn't just stop at recruitment. Once you have allies you can improve their disposition (approval rating) by carrying on all kinds of dialog options with them in your save area (camp) or while adventuring. The more they approve the better they do in combat, and you are able to unlock new skills and specialties. You also come across tons of loot int he game, some of which are marked 'gifts', if you match the right gift with the right party member, you get more of a bonus. Some are obvious, like finding the 'lamb bone' and giving it to the dog character. Yeah, there's a dog character! I never made a party member mad enough to leave the group, but I could see it happening. Also, if you get really chummy, you will unlock a little 'intimate' cut scene of you and said party member, well, being very close.
The storyline doesn't suck, it's surprisingly good. There are enough plot twists along the way where you stay on your toes, and even the most innocuous comment could have disastrous ramifications. The voice acting is great and really brings party members and NPC's to life, some are downright funny and charismatic. You've got a ton of options in combat and backgrounds, and if you're a tactical gamer, you can program combat behavior and tag key abilities to activate with preset triggers.
For good or bad, it boils down to this. It's basically a console version of World of Warcraft. You have plenty of choices and the game is all about the story, not just the endgame, but choices you make along the way. You will have item management, tons of it, as much as you stand and then some, if you want. Overall, I give it a two thumbs up, five stars, whatever. It has seriously killed my other hobbies though, my blog being just the tip of the casualty list. I've finished it up on my first play through, so it may be time to put it to rest for a little bit at least and get working on some more tactile (tangible!) endeavors.