I know I’m a little behind. This game came out in 2009, but as I just got my 360 in June 2010 I’m still catching up on all the A list titles. With Dragon Age 2 coming out in March 2011 I knew I wanted to get this one done in time for the release.
It has the same familiar Bioware design elements that I am used do. You have a huge mission to fulfill, and you collect party members and grow strong enough to defeat the end boss. Also, as is typical of Bioware this is not an open world sandbox game. I do prefer sandbox games like Red Dead Redemption but we don’t have that here.
Since I have young children that love to watch and play, the first thing I had to do was determine if they could watch it. This game has mild language, which is acceptable for me. The violence in this game is really quite gorey. The gorefest begins right from the introductory cut scene. Unfortunately, it did not seem to phase either of my children. For me it was always just a little disconcerting when you talked to someone right after a battle. Invariably, they were covered in blood. Look at the picture on the right. This is typical. We could be talking about something unrelated to anything and Leliana is just going to stand there with all that blood on her face forever, oblivious and unconcerned. It was gross, but I got used to it and it even became amusing.
Along the way you make decisions, mostly they are simple but there are quite a few grey area situations that I loved. The dialog selection tree is still there, although one huge omission is that the main character is silent. Many of the dialog options are really funny, but I learned that most are throwaway and irrelevant.
Many are not. There were more impactful decisions in this game than any other that come to mind. And some are very difficult decisions of morality. At the end of the game, they have dialogue that tells you how all your significant decisions play out. I made one pretty bad choice, but my others were pretty good. This was the best part of the game. I don’t want to spoil things so I’ll stop here.
I started with a mage. Mages are very powerful. I would say even unbalanced. I always go for the aoe spells like tempest. I started with lightning and it just ripped through the enemies, shortening the endless battles. The friendly fire damage is insignificant in this game. Some parts of the game did start to feel a bit like a grind. Going after the anvil comes to mind. With the correct aoe spells this grind can be shortened. I felt like I was cheating a bit when I would send my aoe through a wall into the next room and cook the enemies while they struggled to find the door to get me.
Party makeup is very significant. My party died only a very few times. I built it for combat but suffered in other areas. I think I made a mistake in not bringing a rogue. There were too many treasure chests that were left unopened. I realized my error late in the game and switched from Shale (a second warrior) to Leliana and made her a ranger. At that point I had built up Alistair with tons of constitution and great dragon armor. I set up Wynne as a healbot and Alistair could not be killed. He was able to keep most of the creatures off of us because I had him on aggressive so he would run up away from the three of us ranged fighters and taunt like crazy. Setting the party member’s tactics is important as they actually follow their orders quite nicely.
This is a long game you can sink your teeth into. I really liked the music and voice work. The scenery was great, the locations were diverse. It’s a top notch production that cost millions to make.
Morrigan’s mother was voiced by Kate Mulgrew, also known as Star Trek’s Captain Janeway. Tim Russ (Tuvok from the same show) also had a significant part. This level of video game feels like a movie with me as the star. IMDB has listings for them, and the number of people involved in these games production is just astonishing. It really is a huge industry. While $60 is a huge sum of money for a game, I don’t feel bad about it when it’s a game like this one. These people work really hard and deserve nice big paychecks.
Dragon Age: Origins: 9/10