Editors' Choice Game
Dragon Age: Origins
Reviewed by Angie Kibiloski
Dragon Age: Origins (Retail $49.99 for PC), from EA Games and Bioware, is a completely awesome epic fantasy RPG! I have been counting down the days to its release since I saw it previewed at E3 this past summer. Playing this game is like stepping into a fantasy adventure movie. The plot is fleshed out, the characters you meet are interesting and intelligent, and the cut scenes are of a truly cinematic quality. For a moment, I could have sworn I was watching one of the giant battle sequences in Lord of the Rings. After you watch these scenes and regain control of your character, you really feel like you have stepped right into that world. During the battles that you do play a part in, the combat system is easy to figure out and can be catered to your personal fighting style.
After you customize your character, for whom you even get to choose a voice, you get right into the story. The very first choice you make, that of your ethnicity, will have a huge affect on the plot of your game. You can be a human, an elf, or a dwarf, each with 2 few sub-category choices, giving you 6 different possible through lines. In the human noble storyline, which I chose to follow, your world is being overrun by darkspawn, and your father, who is a great king, is on his way with your brother to battle the hordes. Intrigue and chaos enter your life very quickly, and betrayal will come where you least expect. You must take over the quest to defeat the darkspawn and avenge your fatherís death by joining the legendary Grey Wardens. These warriors have fought incursions of darkspawn for centuries, and have a unique ability to combat them. They drink the blood of the darkspawn to gain their strengths and powers. If they survive the consumption of the toxic blood, they are forever connected to the very creatures they hunt. Because of this, a Grey Warden can sense darkspawn when they are near, and meet them in battle as equals.
Like in any RPG, as you play you will gain experience points that allow you to level up your character and acquire new skills and talents, or upgrade your inherent abilities. You will collect items along the way that have an effect on your skills as well as your defense and attack abilities, like armor or weapons. These items, as well as the experience points, arenít just for your own character. As you play, you will be able to gather allies who will travel and fight with you. Each will gain experience points and you will be able to customize them as they level up. You can also take control of each character and play as them instead of your own. In fact, during battle, this can be a big advantage. When you battle, you can fight in real time, pause the game and give instructions to each character and then watch the action, or use a combination of both. There is a great battle strategy feature that allows you to give each character in your party unique default battle instructions, so that you only have to worry about controlling your own character when under attack. If you do not give these secondary characters a specific target or instruction during each battle, they will default to your preset battle strategy. For instance, you can tell your mage to always heal your hero before they do anything else. If you donít need healing, you can program them to always target the weakest enemy with a fireball. During battle, if you do not take control of your mage, they will follow these instructions. However, you can change your mind during battle and make them do something else if you need them, like help you gang up on a really tough enemy.
When not doing battle, a good deal of your time will be spent in conversation, to build alliances with new acquaintances, keep your ear to the morale of your party, or discover the plans of your enemies. Engaging in these dialogues will not only move the story along, but will help you to become immersed in the tapestry of the world. You will have a list of conversation topics and responses to choose from in each dialogue, so that you are in control of the flow of the interaction. Every choice you make during the game has an affect on the plot progression as well as the way other characters feel about and react to you. Sometimes, you will have to make difficult decisions which you know will cause negativity from one or another of your party members. Do not make your action or even your conversation choices lightly, as you will often have to live with these choices through the rest of the game. Because of this, it could be fun to go back after finishing the game and try out different decisions to see how they affect various outcomes.
Dragon Age: Origins is very much about personally shaping the plot, about feeling like you are actually a part of the world and of the story that is unfolding. The combat is a great combination of strategy and real-time, allowing any type of player to feel at home behind the controls. The graphics are gorgeous, and each environment you will adventure through is so rich and textured that it can only be called candy for the eyes. Your own character, as well as the others you will meet and sometimes control, is very developed and multi-dimensional. If you have ever wanted to step through the screen into one of those sprawling epic fantasy movies, you can get a taste of what that would be like with this game. It is beautiful, engaging, and extremely fun! Do you have what it takes to join with the mighty Grey Wardens and rid the world of the hordes of darkspawn? You wonít know until you play.
Find out more about this title at http://dragonage.bioware.com. Available for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
Minimum System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP with SP3/Vista with SP1
Processor: Intel Core 2(or equivalent) running at 1.4Ghz (1.6Ghz for Vista)
RAM: 1GB (1.5MB for Vista)
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT 128MB (GeForce 7600 GT 256MB for Vista)
Hard Disk Space: 20GB
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.