I bought a boxed copy of Dragon Age: Origins and played as a female Dwarf Noble warrior named Theona (because my son thought she looked like the character from Shrek). I spent over 105 hours in Ferelden exploring over 90% of it and finished at level 22. I used the longsword Topsiders Honor for much of the campaign and, with few exceptions, my traveling NPC companions included Alistar (Templar/Warrior), Leliana (Rogue), and Wynne (Healer/Mage). Here are my quick thoughts on the game…
The title – Probably the best thing about Dragon Age: Origins is that it doesn’t have a “2” in the title. In an era where big publishers ride the sequel horse until it dies starving in the desert called mediocrity (Call of Duty I’m looking at you), it’s refreshing to see some new “intellectual property” in the gaming world.
The story – Bioware’s RPGs are highly praised and successful for their story telling, and Dragon Age: Origins certainly maintains this pedigree. Simply put, this is probably one of best – if not the best – RPG I’ve played.
The combat – Combat was action-packed, reminding me of BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic. Every encounter was a heated skirmish between your party members and usually large packs of enemies. Like many of BioWare’s RPGs, you’re able to pause the game at any time to give orders to your henchman.
Textures – While I found the story and combat best of breed, some of the graphics leave a lot to be desired. Dungeons, structures and towns for example look great for the most part, while other locations – outdoor scenes in particular – are just damn ugly. My theory is that Dragon Age: Orgins was in development for so long that it’s likely Bioware just didn’t get around to going back and optimizing some of the game content that was created first.
The loot – If you’re looking for a “lootapalooza” in every dungeon or building you fight through, this is not the game for you. Special weapons, armor and even health poultices are few and far between. Of course, some would argue that this is a good trait – it makes you really appreciate the good loot when you find it. But, if you’re one of those players that likes to constantly swap out old gear for new, you may be left less than satisfied.
Combat and companions – Some of the mechanics of combat that make the game great can also be a pain in the ass. Every battle is a full on skirmish, usually with your party outnumbered. To make matters worse, melee enemies converge quickly and surround your position making the combat close and cramped. This makes it difficult to spread out and fight or use tactics like pulling. I found myself constantly hitting the space bar so I could reposition my companions, health them up, etc. This resulted in a kind of chess game and really interrupted the natural flow and pace of the combat for me. Also, the shear amount of tweaking you can do to the tactics used by your comanions is staggering. As a result, I found myself constantly tweaking, worrying whether or not I had the right tactics set up for each companion in each encounter. Again, just another disruption in the natural flow and pace of the game for me.
Healers are good – I recommend using Wynne for healing and buffing. She does a great job of managing herself, stays out of harm’s way, and will help save on those few and far between health poultices.
Ahh them Rogues – If you’re not playing as a rogue I recommend taking one along in your party. Not only can they open chests (which contain some of the better loot and health poultices) and spot enemies if setup correctly but many of their skills (“Deadly Strike,” “Below the Belt”) will be a huge help in combat.
Revenants must die – A revenant is a “corpse possessed by a demon of pride or of desire…” Whatever. It is, however, one of the toughest damn things you’ll face in the game. There are ten of them in total, four of which are involved in a quest called “The Mages Treasure.” Bring down those four and you’ll have yourself the “Juggernaut” armor set, some of the best armor in the game.
It’s okay to be a weenie – Combat, especially early in the game, can be very tough. I recommend embracing your inner noob and playing the game on “easy” until you get the hang of tactics and positioning.