Do you feel the need to bludgeon more Drakspawn? Well, Bioware is giving you that chance as Dragon Age: Origins receives its first full-blown expansion in ‘Awakening.’ In a new area of Ferelden known as Amaranthine, you will explore a new story within the Dragon Age universe.
'Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening' is the perfect cure for those who have tapped out their copy of 'Dragon Age: Origins', or for those who are interested in taking on something new within the game. Designed by Bioware team that worked on Origins (and not outsourced), 'Awakening' offers up hours of new adventuring in a new section of the world called Amaranthine. Along with a new adventure, you will meet several new party members; learn new skills, abilities, and more. 'Awakening' is its own stand-alone tale, but you will be required to have the original game as well. For an expansion pack, Awakenings has you covered, so let us get into the skullduggery.
Hello Warden, I hope You brought your Axe
Embarking on your adventure against the dark hordes you can choose to import your character from 'Dragon Age: Origins,' or create a new character from scratch. Don’t worry about your new character being a little underpowered when you start the game because 'Awakening' allows you to create a level 18 character. [Note: promotional items and DLC loot aside from ‘Return to Ostagar’ will NOT carry over with your imports.] Once you are settled with that choice of importing your character or the new role of a Warden from Orlais. As the Warden you will head out to establish command of Vigil’s Keep, a post in the Northern area of Ferelden—in Amaranthine. Not even five minutes in your new role, you are attacked as you enter the Keep. Assertively you realize that evil still lingers, even after the archdemon was slain.
Friends in Low Places
From the early moments of your new endeavor, you will start to see that 'Awakening' puts the focus on action, since it designed for the lot of gamers who have already put 'Dragon Age' through the paces. You will start the game in the company of one NPC— 'Mhairi', and it will not be long before you stumble across several other lively characters to make traveling through the countryside a lot less lonesome. Having friends is a good thing, because you will need them. Most of the characters are interesting (one is better than the rest –‘Justice’) and you will likely find them sufficient for the task at hand. Only one NPC returns from 'Origins', and that is 'Oghren of Orzammar', the little warrior dwarf. I don't want to give away too much here because finding each cast member is part of the excitement and wonder in 'Awakening.'
I'm Smarter than a Darkspawn
The new threat that has appeared in 'Awakening' is a new breed of “smarter” darkspawn proves to be a good challenge for your gang. As the evil forces create a new army to siege Ferelden, it will be your job to play the heroic saviour once again. Depending on your character-- if you have imported or not, 'Awakening' is not overly challenging, but it has many battles that are a lot of fun. Fighting intelligent darkspawn, dragons, golems, and one bad multi-boobed-demon (had to say it) can feel larger than life which continues the sensational coloration between the combat and storytelling. One of the key points that made the original 'Dragon Age' so entertaining. Watch out for those tentacles! Awakenings has some nice tricks up its sleeve. By chance that 'Awakening' is a little too easy, you can always boost up the difficulty to find your own comfort level.
Fancy a Little Sight Seeing?
Along with the battles, you will have plenty of new locations to explore (7 in total), with multiple quests to complete. Even though “some” of the side-quests feel like useless fodder to keep you busy for an extra 10 minutes, it never hurts the overall experience. On the flip side, the other quests can be rather interesting which makes up for any lacking quests. This all builds up around a strong and elaborate main story which includes some moral choices that will likely have you tense as you move towards its epic finale. Bioware sure knows how to tell a story, and although 'Awakening' is as strong as 'Origins,' it is still a great escape.
I’m sure most of you will want to get the most out of the expansion and beyond the joy of the quest, the new loot, and abilities will earn your interest. For numbers-- 'Awakening' offers up 6 new specializations (2 for each class), two new spell chains, which works out to being a total of 24 new, spells. There are also a number of new talents for the rogue and warrior. In total, you are looking a total of over 50 new spells and abilities in the expansion. It is not mind-blowing, but hey, it’s something new to expand and explore within your character. It definitely makes the character classes a little deeper, and shows how the series will continue to advance in the future.
Even before I typed up this review, the hardcore 'Dragon Age' clan have already made up their minds. 'Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening' is a must buy... and if you love Dragon Age, how could you disagree? I wasn’t totally sold on everything Bioware added to the new story, and I felt a little “tired” of running around at certain times, but that is bound to happen from time to time-- even in the greatest of RPGs. However, when it was all said and done, I felt completely entertained by the entire ‘Awakening’ package, and happy I made the journey into Amaranthine. It’s going to be a long wait for 'Dragon Age 2' (any amount of time seems long), but I’m sure Bioware will keep us stacked with new DLC along the way, and if its all at the quality of Awakenings, then just maybe all the wait won’t be so bad.
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 03.22.10