Dragon Age: Origins
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

While many claims have been made that this is the spiritual successor to Baldurs Gate, I think Dragon Age has enough to it to stand on its own. Its, got some flaws but overall it is a superb game that should be played by all RPG fans.

Gameplay: Bioware always comes through with compelling role playing games and this one is no exception.

Graphics: Clearly held back somewhat by the consoles, but still good.

Sound: Great voice acting and stirring music

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Dragon Age: Origins

Developer: BioWare | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Release Date: 2009 | Genre: RPG | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Being a lifelong fan of Bioware and their titles ever since I first played Baldur’s Gate I was more than a little excited about getting Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O). After hearing that it was widely being proclaimed as the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate my anticipation went into overdrive. Now 55 hours and 49 minutes later I can safely say DA:O is THE best Role Playing game of the year and probably many years to come.

Moving away from the more futuristic titles of late like Knights of the old Republic and Mass Effect, Bioware returns to their roots in this epic, dark fantasy game. After creating a character and picking their “Origin” you are thrown into a world of violence and betrayal where your every move and choice could have far reaching consequences. The story centers on “The Blight” an outbreak of evil “Darkspawn” that is threatening the land of Ferelden. Your character is recruited into the ranks of the “Grey Wardens” (the only people capable of ending a Blight, but at a terrible price) early on in the game, but things soon spiral hopelessly out of control and you are left picking up the pieces. The story might not sound like much on paper, but wait until you start playing and you’ll see how deep it really is.

First things first, this game is rated M for mature and with good reason. It deals with issues like lust, betrayel, revenge and religion. Although this might sound like the ingredients of your typical soap-opera, the mature way in which Bioware has handled the subject matter means this is not a game for children. It is also quite a violent game with frequent enemy decapitations and dismemberment, so your party members can emerge from battle covered in blood and gore. Now that you’ve been warned lets get on with the good stuff.

Dragon Age: Origins is a epic party member based fantasy Role Playing Game that proves once again why Bioware is masters of this genre. Just because it was also released on PS3 and Xbox360 don’t expect it to be “dumbed down” either. This game contains all of the typical Bioware ingredients like long, engrossing conversations, party member management and extensive skills and magic. No Rpg fan will walk away from this one feeling unsatisfied.

The graphics in Dragon Age are good but hardly cutting edge. This might upset some visual junkies, but as the game runs smoothly on even older machines I think the trade-off was worth it. The game still looks very good and the excellent facial animations really bring the characters to life. Battles can get quite hectic and it can be hard to figure out what’s going on amidst the chaos at times, but you can pause the game at any time to issue new orders so this doesn’t really matter that much.

The game doesn’t have that many locations, but the ones you do get to explore is very large and fleshed out. Unlike free roaming games like Oblivion you travel around using a map in Dragon Age instead of exploring open countryside. Don’t worry as there is more than enough to see and do in this game and not once was I left feeling bored or without somewhere to go or something to do. The camera can be zoomed out from an almost over the shoulder perspective to a classic top down view so all tastes should be catered for. Enemy designs are very cool and without wanting to spoil anything, I can only say brace yourself for some big foes. The animations for finishing these brutes are absolutely awesome.

The audio is just as excellent with some of the most atmospheric and epic tunes since Baldurs Gate 2. This is a long game, but you’ll never feel like turning the volume down. The sound effects don’t disappoint either and the gameworld really feels alive due to their excellent implementation. I have nothing but praise for the voice acting as well and there are some stellar performances throughout.

The greatest thing about Dragon Age is how the story and the characters manage to suck you in and make you care. When was the last time you became attached to a party member in a game? The game doesn’t pull any punches either, characters can be killed depending on your actions and choices, you can permanently lose some quests or items and some of the things you do can have some far reaching consequences. Sometimes you might also have to make very unpopular choices for the greater good. If you were expecting a clear-cut good/evil path through the game you’ll be in for a shock. Dragon Age excels at throwing some real curve balls at you. All of this will make you want to play the game multiple times just to see what else would have happened if you made different choices. With six different “Origin” stories that can influence the beginning and end of the game you are looking at some serious value for money.

There are not a lot of bad things I can say about Dragon Age. It’s by no means perfect, but there’s nothing that really stands out as bad either. The game is very stable and bug-free like most Bioware titles and apart from a slightly unforgiving difficulty curve it’s as polished as can be. The downloadable content is not very friendly on the wallet or bandwidth, but that’s just how it is. The lack of multiplayer might also upset some players, but this is a single player experience through and through.

In my books DA:O is the best single player Role Playing Game since Fallout 3 and an essential purchase for all fans of the genre. Just make sure you have more than enough spare time in order to do it justice.

*Review originally published in 2009.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP (SP3) or Windows Vista (SP1) or Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Single 1.6 Ghz Processor (or equivalent) or AMD 64 2.0 GHz Processor (or equivalent)
    • Memory: 1GB (1.5 GB Vista and Windows 7)
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon X850 256MB or NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT 128MB or greater (Windows Vista: Radeon X1550 256 MB or NVidia GeForce 7600GT 256MB)
    • DirectX®: DirectX (November 2007)
    • Hard Drive: 20 GB HD space
    • Sound: Direct X Compatible Sound Card
    • OS: Windows XP (SP3) or Windows Vista (SP1) or Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or AMD Phenom II X2 Dual-Core 2.7 Ghz Processor or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB (3GB Vista and Windows 7)
    • Graphics: ATI 3850 512 MB or NVidia 8800GTS 512MB or greater
    • DirectX®: DirectX (November 2007)
    • Hard Drive: 20 GB HD space
    • Sound: Direct X Compatible Sound Card

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