Sunday, 9 December 2012

Dragon Age: Origins Review


I’m not even going to deny that my expectations for this game were a little bit unfair, I was a huge huge fan of Bioware’s Mass Effect series and consider it to be one of the best examples of why game quality isn’t declining, merely shifting. That and the fact that I just really love RPG’s, and saw a little bit of Elder Scrolls mirrored in this aesthetic, I was pretty much praising the game before I had even played, yes, I was that guy.

My actual experience with Dragon Age was a huge shock, it was nothing like I thought it would be, which isn’t the games fault its mine, and I always try to appreciate a game for what it is not for what it isn’t. Even so, no matter how much I got into this game I never found myself really enjoying it as much as I wanted, I wish it was more compelling than it is.

dragonage1          dragonage3

First of all yes I am just using the first screenshots I found on IGN to represent the game, unfortunately I don’t care about this game enough to give a shit.

The first admirable thing I found about Dragon Age was the credits the broadness of your ability to create your character, being able to choose from three different races, three fighting classes and two genders doesn’t sound too impressive at first, but the world of Dragon Age has a lot of complicated politics around these identities in the storyline, which means the type of character you create will have a drastic influence on dialogue and plot. With choosing these values you will then be put into your suitable ‘Origin Story’ which is the prologue based on what you selected/ I played through the human noble story and the elven mage story, without ruining the plot the human noble one is horribly boring and the absolute picture of a cliche medieval fantasy scene, the elven mage was much more interesting but had a horrible tendency of throwing you back and forth and became too tedious to be enjoyed (like many things in this game).

The plot of the game is simple to the point of being a joke, it’s a generic fantasy world with elves and witches and dwarves and wizards and knights and kings and pretty much every cliché you can think of, and the circumstances surrounding these creatures are again completely generic. Basically Bioware did not write the premise of this, they just took it from every medieval-themed fantasy game or novel from the past 100 years. So I ask myself, why should I care about these elves, dwarves and witches? What is gonna make them interesting and unique in the way that parallel creatures in Middle Earth, Tamriel and even Hogwarts are all fantastical in their own ways? There were only a few answers to that question to be found.

dragonage5          dragonage4

One thing to be noted is that the game had an interesting and unconventional lore for magic, in most fiction two versions of magic exist, one where magic is unknown by the world and discovered usually by the protagonist and a few friends, and the other is when magic is an accepted and widely used part of the world that everybody thinks is normal and natural. But in this game it is neither, it' is a force in the world that can be used and manipulate by a small percentage, but it is widely feared as opposed to being embraced as it can commonly lead to something known as ‘Blood Magic’ which is the assistance of demons, usually having catastrophic consequences. But it’s not just a social taboo, it’s pretty much illegal to have a wizard outside of the ‘Circle of Magic’ which is an organization which locks mages in towers their entire life and teaches them to harness their powers for good. This is a very interesting take on magic and makes for some interesting storylines that will engage you.

But other than that the lore doesn’t have much interesting material, it’s certainly big, there’s a lot of codex entries to bore you to death, if only they were a bit more interesting than “so and so was born at xyc and became the king of abc and then they captured this city and then war and then died”. You’ll feel like your playing the most generic excuse for an RPG world you’ve ever come across, and you probably are.

That isn’t to say all the storyline is bad, there are some interesting twists, like with the witch Flemeth and her daughter and er… erm… well I guess that’s it.

dragonage6         dragonage7

There’s a lot of interaction with characters, unfortunately they’re all basically massive stereotypes, that’s not to say they’re not sometimes engaging. Wyne was particularly interesting sometimes and her backstory was pretty well written, your other party members might simply be too cliché for you too care about though.

The combat system somehow manages to be even more generic than generic, if that makes sense, you press the attack button and the character runs of too attack the enemy… by themselves, not quite JRPG not quite action, but sitting awkwardly in-between. Of course you have abilities to use which you’ll want to be doing frequently, there’s nothing too interesting just particularly powerful attacks or field magic, the most exhilarating thing you can experience is knocking an enemy down. You control one member of the party at one time, the trouble is with four in battle at once they’re not all capable of handling themselves, whoever you’re controlling needs to be able to heal other party members on the go.

The menu is horribly awkward and difficult to navigate, and it is also a tough job keeping track of all your armour and weapons, for some reason the game will not allow you to compare what you’re picking up to what you currently have equipped, so you just have to randomly collect everything and then check for the small chance that it will be the best one of those you’ve found in the game so far. Considering you find something like that every two minutes, this is extremely frustrating.


I’m not even sorry, forget it, an apology is not happening. I don’t even know why I’m giving this garbage two points, I just thought one was too dramatic. I’ve used the word ‘Generic’ in this review far too many times and I hate repeating myself but like… it’s generic. To the point where it is more generic than the types of RPG’s that I would consider generic, it’s not “Old-school” it’s just a completely useless pile of nothing. I always review a game for what it is, I don’t give bad reviews because a game isn’t what I wanted or expected, I just give them bad reviews when I know what they are, I can appreciate what they are, but it’s rubbish.

I would not recommend this to anyone, I kept waiting for it to get better and before I knew it I was just playing so that I could beat it and review.


Chalgyr Vokel said...

I take this to mean you won't be playing DA 2 then? :P

Overall, I'm a big fan of the DA games, as well as the Mass Effect ones, but they are definitely two very different creatures in the gaming world. Ah well - hopefully you'll enjoy your next gaming endeavor a bit (lot) more. :)

Josef Burn said...

Funnily enough I actually am xD

I got Dragon Age 2 when I had first started Origins, they were having an offer at blockbusters four games for £20 and I was under the impression that I would grow to like Origins because it's Bioware, so I got it xD

I'm actually enjoying it! It's getting pretty repetitive after the third time jump, but it's an enjoyable game, maybe it's because of the increased action focus (and I never thought I'd say that!).

And thanks! :) I just bought The Darkness yesterday and I'm playing that as I type this, it's really awesome :D Have you played that one?

Chalgyr Vokel said...

DA 2 was definitely frowned on by a lot of the original DA fans, but I enjoyed the faster paced combat myself. It was right about the same time Bioware was committing to a faster, more shooter-like Mass Effect experience too.

The original Darkness? The shooter with the demons? If so - yup, I played that one, but not the sequel. I thought it was pretty cool personally.