Review

Dragon Age: Origins Review (Xbox360)

Don’t let the name fool you, Dragon Age: Origins isn’t a title that heavily revolves around dragons. Sure, there are drakes, dragonlings, gigantic high dragons and a few other related beasts, but Dragon Age: Origins is a title that Bioware has used to tell a mature and profound story. In a time where the video game industry is attempting to perfect the art and come off as a more adult-themed medium, Bioware has found an excellent balance to capture its audience.

From the Bioware’s perspective, Dragon Age: Origins has been often said to be inspired by the “A Song of Fire and Ice” series by George R. R. Martin. This comparison is a daunting one due to how well-liked the novel series has been since its inception. After completing Dragon Age: Origins, it’s safe to say that Bioware has almost done the impossible and captured the complexities that a story such as “A Song of Fire and Ice” contains. While the story isn’t overly complex for newcomers to the RPG genre, Bioware did a fantastic job creating compelling reasons for the gamers to keep coming back to Dragon Age: Origins.


After level 14, the Blood Armor is only good for looks.
This viewpoint is not found in the console versions.

It’s daring to say that Dragon Age: Origins arguably has one of the best storylines in the past five years, but this is a stance that should gain a lot of support once gamers get their hands on the title. The written dialogue is superb with a certain degree of wit and significance that gamers won’t want to miss one minute of the story. From the two to four hour origins that begin the title to the extraordinary battle for power within the dwarven politics, Bioware was able to put forth an exceedingly involving world that never holds back any punches. Each created character that joins the ragtag group of followers for the story’s hero has a unique feel and perspective. It was difficult to choose between who stays in the party and who sits out on the upcoming battle as each character has a personality that changes the dynamic of almost every scene. Take for example, Morrigan disapproves of good deeds of charity while Leliana supports helping out the needy.

Picking between the party members is a lovely struggle that occurs before every quest. Dragon Age: Origins has players depending on an approval rating, so it’s essential to take party members who will agree with the views of the hero since they’ll soon favor the hero and then, before too long, perks are unlocked for their unwavering support. Also, on the plus side, the more a party member approves of the hero, the more likely they’ll be a romance candidate. Playing as a male, Morrigan was easily wooed with all the dialogue options and gifts that were provided to gain her support. Leliana was much more difficult since she didn’t have much to say at the party’s camp and there weren’t many gifts that she fell head over heels for.

On the other side of the spectrum, for individuals who are looking for homosexual relationships, males are able to pursue Zevran, an elf assassin, as a love interest. In general, the scenes of sex between the hero and the love interests aren’t the most captivating scenes and are, at times, somewhat laughable; but at least they aren’t overly exaggerated or pushy on standards.


At the start of the game, the ogres are deadly.
These demons are easily dispatched.

The console versions have a different perspective on the battlefield than what was presented in the PC iteration. The combat is more along the lines of a fast-paced dungeon crawler rather than the traditional stop and go computer RPG. Having played both the PC and Xbox 360 versions for extensive amounts of time, the PC iteration is the preferable approach. Having said that, the incorporated radial menus for the consoles was done to a satisfactory level. At times, players will have an itchy trigger finger and screw up their coordinated attacks, but for the most part, Dragon Age: Origins was easy to pick up and play.

Gamers who are infatuated with loot and upgrading to new weapons will have a field day with Dragon Age: Origins. It’s hard not to stop after every battle to check out the new loot and equip it for the characters. Even the warhound, which only has the ability to wear war paint and a collar, was wonderful to flip-flop between items to equip. Each character has the ability to have two weapon sets so gamers can switch on the fly within combat. Need to make Leliana an archer so she stays out of the reach of attacks from an ogre, then all gamers have to do is hold the left trigger, select the inventory and press start on her character. While it was definitely fun to check out ratings for the armor, weapons, rings, necklaces, and the like, Bioware needed to pack in more items to collect and hunt down as it did become redundant to cycle through the same swords but only with different metals and enchantments.

Moving on, it needs to be said that gamers shouldn’t be picking up Dragon Age: Origins based on graphical merits. Dragon Age: Origins is a serviceable title for today’s standards, but it doesn’t raise the standards for RPGs or video games in general. The blood that was splattered onto the faces of the characters between battles was a nice effect to see implemented since it does help show that the gamers just came out of a gruesome battle. The character models are decent, although the dwarves, elves and humans all look the same but in different shapes and sizes. Bioware needed to add in more diversity for the character races to stand alone.


Blood plays a big part in the action.
Alistair is a great tank, but Shale trumps all.

At least Bioware was able to deliver a variety of enemies to fight that all have their unique attributes and AI. Spiders love to shoot their webs from far away and then run in for an attack. Wolves attack in packs and are fearsome when they are able to surround a playable character. The mages (darkspawn alike) will run away in fear of melee attacks and stick to the background as they buff their allies and de-buff the hero’s allies. The good thing about the AI was that the human allies are outstandingly helpful in battle due to the tactics that the gamers are allowed to tinker with. Throughout the campaign, gamers unlock several more tactics slots to assign for their partners in crime to use within combat. On top of leveling up the core (three) party members with the hero, the members who don’t join in on the festivities level up too. So in the end, gamers should never worry about who was left out in fear of their characters never being ready to join an upcoming battle.

Dragon Age: Origins is a well-crafted role-playing game for the consoles. The storyline is among the best for this generation making Dragon Age: Origins a must-have RPG. Once gamers meet Shale, the “Stone Prisoner” from the downloadable content, they’ll soon realize how addicting it can be to hold conversations with the characters from the world. Many of the playable characters can quit the party at almost anytime, so gamers need to think about how their decisions impact everyone. Dragon Age: Origins is much more than a game – it’s the glorious revisiting of Bioware’s past and a look at where they are going in the future.


Top Game Moment: When the hero uncovers the truth of Morrigan’s past and must act on her behalf for a side-quest.

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Comments

By Jake_SI (SI Elite) on Nov 04, 2009
Jake_SI
I'd been considering whether to get this game the last few days.. and now I've decided.. I'm ordering it right now.
By Revan (SI Elite) on Nov 05, 2009
Revan
Wha!? This is a BioWare game?! And to think, I've been staring at it in the store wondering if I should get it. Now I'm definitely getting it!