* Awarded 'Best Role-Playing Game' 2009, 'Best New I.P.' 2009
Hey, remember thinking about stuff? Well that’s back baby!
'Dragon Age: Origins' is a video game version of 20 sided die nerd-a-thons by the masters of the genre, Bioware. Along with being a masterful RPG, 'Dragon Age: Origins' has also been billed as the spiritual successor to 'Baldur’s Gate'.
Me kissing BioButt
Indeed it can be said that of all the games that I have played in my long gaming history there are a few design groups that really stand out. Among them, Bioware has to be at the top. Let’s look at their track record…they gave us the exceptional 'Baldur’s Gate' series, 'Knights of the Old Republic', 'NeverWinter Nights' and the recent gem 'Mass Effect'. Now Bioware have gone and done it again, creating a sword and sorcery epic that makes me feel like a nerd in the most delightful way possible. 'Dragon Age: Origins' hit all the right notes of a proper fantasy and a proper Bioware RPG. Aside from our health care system and good beer, Canada should be wearing the fact that this design house is located on our soil like a badge of honour.
Me talking about jerks
I will get the complaint out of the way first. Yes I said “complaint”, singular, because there really is only one single niggling thing that certain folks (usually under the age of 18) find irksome, and that is the graphics engine. Some people find that it looks dated. It certainly isn’t a cutting edge visual presentation, but if this ruins the game for you then by all means please stop reading this review and go look at something shiny. Not playing a game like this because of the way that it looks would be like telling Megan Fox to get off of your lap and stop making out with you because you don’t like the fact that her shirt says “I hate A.D.D. kids and twitch gamers”.
Now I can discuss this game with the people out there who love video games when they are at their best, which is clearly the case here. Dragon Age gives you one the greatest single player experiences in gaming history. Upon starting the game you get to choose your race. Whether it is a Human, an Elf, or a Dwarf is up to you. You also choose your sex and your class from Warrior, Rogue, or Mage. To people unfamiliar with RPG lingo I will break the classes down respectively. You have your Conan guy, your uh, smaller Conan guy who picks locks, and…Professor Dumbledore. You also get to work with one of the most well designed character appearance generators ever. Mass Effect’s generator was good, but Bioware have perfected it here.
Don’t spoil it!
After you choose what your in game avatar will look like the story begins in earnest. You get a tutorial to play through which also serves to dole out healthy amounts of who your character is and also gives you a nice perspective on the world in which you live. Soon though, things go south and you get to start acting all heroic (or anti-heroic if you choose) and you are off. The plot is well thought out and pretty damn tight. It also has a really nice pace to it. No matter which background story you choose you will soon find that an ancient society of heroic defenders called 'The Grey Wardens' needs you to help them stop the rise of an ancient evil. You will meet some great characters at the outset of your mission, and then the plot starts to thicken and you soon find that your quest has just gone from daunting to epic, and then to super epic and beyond. One of the main selling points of this game is the story, so I can’t really get into it, but I will say that there exists within this game hours and hours of material to play through.
A morality play
The people in your party will react differently toward you depending on the moral choices that you make. You may get the opportunity to spare an enemy and by doing so you will make one party member think that you are just the bee’s knees while angering another who just wanted to cram their sword down the throat of the offending antagonist. There is a lot of drama and humour to the interpersonal relationships that you will forge with your fellowship and it is always entertaining. I haven’t seen the anti-hero storyline really in-depth yet as I tend to play these types of games as a shining example of goodness on my first run through. My second run is always as a jerk. I call it the “Kanye Run”.
It’s clobberin’ time!
The combat and tactics system is very well presented. In typical RPG fashion you can pause the action any time during a fight to issue orders or select new tactics for your team. If your mage is getting pummeled because she is in close trying to heal the party then you can just pull up the tactics screen and change her bahaviour from 'healer' to 'damager' and when you resume the action she will pull back and start raining in death on your foes with powerful spells like fireballs or ice blasts and other nerdly delicious things. On the easy difficulty setting you don’t really have all that much use for the tactics options, but on higher difficulty levels it is a necessity. The combat can be as intricate as you like, recreating those long hours from your youth of rolling dice and figuring out stats and hit point modifiers while playing a table top RPG while the captain of the football team dated the girl next door to you that you had loved since the second grade. It’s ok though because she’s fat now and has three kids from three different fathers and you have this fantastic game to play. That’s Karma.
There is some adult content in the game other than the blood soaked violence. This is delivered in the form of romantic interludes and relationships that can take place should you play your cards right. The game does not discriminate as you can have same sex relationships (hey maybe we’ll win back all those people that don’t like the graphics after all) and there are some heavy petting scenes. There is no nudity as the females are always in skimpy underwear during those encounters, but I played the PC version of this game so no doubt a nude mod is on the way for me. I do own an Xbox 360 as well, but I have the PC version because I know that Bioware always tend to spice up their games a little for the PC, and also because I can’t tie up the TV for 80 hours playing an RPG because that would eat into my wife’s time of watching movies like 'Twilight' or 'Bridgette Jones' or other such drivel that serves as husband repellant.
Voicing my praise
The voice acting is wonderful. All of the characters are given a life that is rarely heard in games today. There are some notable actors used, but nothing blatant like in a certain 'Call of Duty' featuring 50 Cent as a voice you would never recognize but is used to sell copies of the game to children who are “down wit dat”. The voice acting sessions here must have been painstaking as there is a ton of dialogue. Really, there is a lot. A ridiculous amount. Like, more voice acting than you’ve ever heard. I’m serious. Get it yet? Lots of talking. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It all lends to the suspension of disbelief and makes the world in the game feel so real.
If you like the thought of Megan Fox on your lap hating A.D.D. kids with you, if you are in touch with your inner nerd, if you are intelligent and can actually pay attention to a story, and if you love awesome things that are truly full of awesomness that last for a million hours, then get Dragon Age: Origins. Oh! I almost forgot to mention the multiplayer mode…HAHAHAHAHA! Single player only ladies! Get over it. There will still be 12 year olds to scream profanities at you in multiplayer online communities when you are done with this masterpiece.
Reviewed by VonAwesome | 11.23.09