With titles such as Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knight of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, BioWare has proven that they have mastered the RPG genre well. Every game they release brings something new or further elaborates on the RPG genre. Bioware’s latest RPG is not an RPG that does completely new things, quite the contrary. With Dragon Age: Origins we are dealing with a fantasy RPG that goes back to its roots. Humans, elves, dwarves and dragons it’s all back in it and the battle between good and evil is once again central. At first glance, Dragon Age: Origins seems like yet another fantasy RPG, but BioWare still manages to form this standard formula into a great whole.
One of the last Gray Wardens
BioWare is known for the great amount of freedom of choice they give the player and once again this is the case in this game. Before you have even started the story, you will have to put together a character and this will immediately influence the beginning of this game. For example, after you have chosen a race and adjusted the appearance, you will be able to choose the background of the character. If you choose a rich dwarf, the start will be completely different than a poor elf serving as a slave. So the biggest difference will be at the beginning of the game, but also during the rest of the game your background will play an important factor, this can sometimes help you, but also regularly be used against you. After the start, your character will join the Gray Wardens, a group of humans, elves and dwarves who protect the world from all possible evil and in this case the Blight. Unfortunately, in a battle against the Blight, almost all Gray Wardens perish and you carry the fate of the world on your shoulders. And this is where the real adventure begins where you must try to get the different races to work together to take out the Blight along with the Archdemon.
As usual, this story is told through a lot of dialogue. This is one of the strong points of this game and keeps you hooked all the time to keep playing. During these dialogues you have the choice of several answers each time and the answer you choose determines the reaction of the NPC, but also how people see you. For example, it can help to be totally honest, but other times a white lie will be a better outcome. This dialogue system is very extensive and the game can be replayed many times if you want to go through each answer. In the game you will also eventually build a team of characters that help you in the fight against evil. The answers and way of asking questions also affect the relationship between you and your team members. For example, it is possible to have a witch in your team or a good Templar. If you threaten someone to get an answer, the witch will appreciate you more, but the Templar less. This gives you the real feeling that you are walking around in a living world and that your actions actually have consequences.
Menus and lots of options
In addition to the dialogues, the game consists for the most part of small and large-scale battles. During these battles you have the opportunity to watch from one character’s point of view and choose the actions he has to do. This will go very well at the beginning of the game, but once you encounter some stronger enemies you immediately notice that the game is very spicy and that you have to apply much more strategy to reach the end of the game. You do this by pausing the game and then you have the option to give each team member an assignment. This works very well, especially on the PC version, because you click on every option with great ease. You will therefore regularly use stopping the game to defeat difficult enemies and it is even possible to place a character at certain points and give fixed patterns. So every aspect of the fight is in your control and we like to see this. The only strange thing about this whole thing is the fact that you can also directly control your other characters. This partly takes you out of the experience of being that one character and it’s more about the team. I think this is a missed opportunity, but of course it provides the necessary variation in playing styles that you can try out. The difficulty is also sometimes hard to find. This way you can fly through an area one moment, but you get stuck with a kind of boss. This sometimes causes the necessary frustration, but always gave me the opportunity to critically review and adjust my strategy.
The options, dialogues and battles are very well put together, but the point where Dragon Age: Origins leaves the most points is the visual aspect. The game certainly doesn’t look bad, the blood effects are a bit different and the design of the DarkSpawn is very well done, but the game doesn’t splash off the screen. This is of course due to the huge world they have created and this much more work is to make it all amazingly beautiful. Also, the finish is sometimes not always neat. Textures are sometimes very ugly and sometimes 3d models fly through each other. I’m talking about small parts here, but it was annoying in the long run. Contrary to the graphics, they did a great job on all parts of the soundtrack. The soundtrack is epic and atmospheric and the voice acting is of a very high level. The voices all suit the characters and ensures even more that the dialogues don’t get annoying in the long run.
Still a great game
The single player is one that you will not soon forget, because it is just very well put together. The story is original enough to keep you interested for tens of hours and the characters each have their own past and character. Is the world very believable and every choice has a consequence. The combat system works very smoothly and there is a lot to adjust to your liking. So there is certainly little to say about this. Still, it’s a shame that the game has some beauty flaws. For example, the graphics are not always great and the difficulty is sometimes too diverse that it becomes frustrating. But the great voice acting and soundtrack make this game a very nice whole and Dragon Age: Origins is definitely recommended for every RPG lover. Moreover, it is a nice addition that other people can follow your progress on the net. Statistics, achievements, but also screenshots are kept in order to provide insight into what you have experienced. A very nice addition. BioWare proves once again that it reigns supreme in the RPG genre.
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Author: Christiaan Ribbens | Genre: RPG | Release: 17-11-2009 | Publisher: EA | Developer: BioWareGraphics: 8.5 † Sound: 9.5 † Gameplay: 9.0 † Controls: 9.0 † Playback: 9.5 9.2+ Choices have consequences+ Deep combat+ Voice acting- Balance of difficulty- Graphics finish-