Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360PS3

Fantasy RPG from BioWare

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8Out of 10
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Morrigan must go down as one of the most memorable RPG party members ever.
Morrigan must go down as one of the most memorable RPG party members ever.

Morrigan must go down as one of the most memorable RPG party members ever.

Dragon Age is best, however, outside of combat. There is no judgemental morality system to suffer, no Paragon or Renegade points to earn, no Light side or Dark side of the Force to turn to. This is refreshing, especially at a time when karma systems are in vogue. Without such statistic distractions, you're left to resolve quests with only your morals for company. Should I slay an entire race of werewolves at the behest of an Elven race whose favour I covet, or should I hear the beasts out? Should I send Morrigan, the wonderfully-voiced witch bitch mage, into the Fade in order to exorcise a boy from a demon - even if this will rob the child of his mother? If Dragon Age does one thing brilliantly, it is that there are no obvious right or wrong answers. When you reckon you've got the game sussed and have foreseen an outcome, that's usually an indication that events will take an unforeseen twist. The game often surprises you. NPCs are stubborn, unflinching in their ideals and realistic in emotion. Try as you might to resolve conflicts peacefully, sometimes there is no option but to draw your sword and stick it in someone's gut, even when that someone doesn't deserve it.

Your decisions affect not only the game's plot, but your relationship with your party members. Leliana, the girl-next-door rogue, approves of what you might consider "right" decisions. So does Alistair, the Templar warrior. But Morrigan, the aforementioned mage, has a mean streak. She favours chaos. Piss a party member off too often and they may desert you. Go even further and they may try to kill you. This adds risk to the acceptance of every quest and how you tackle it. If I take the time to help this random NPC out, will Morrigan disapprove? If I slay first and ask questions later, will Leliana be disappointed with me? Keeping everyone happy, massaging egos and dominating personalities, is the stuff of the Premier League manager, and a role-player's dream.

Why should I care? Sex. Yes, Dragon Age has sex. Lots of it, in fact. You can go to a brothel in Ferelden's capital and pay 50 silver to shag a human, an elf, or a dwarf, of any gender. Prostitution, however, is all too easy. There is no challenge. Bonking your party members is the true test of your sexual prowess. Strangely, this overshadows most other desires, including saving the world. This is your true motivation throughout your quest. Every action and decision boils down to this most basic and feral of desires: to shag. Dragon Age does not have a karma system; it has a sex system.

Unfortunately, sleeping with the object(s) of your affection is anti-climactic. The sex in Dragon Age is not sophisticated, hot or steamy. The game has an 18 rating, yet women keep their underwear on during sex. This is like the worst Hollywood sex scene: a pointless tumble where A-list actresses wear bras while simulating sex. It's not helped by the graphics, either. Dragon Age's sex scenes are horribly animated - Morrigan crawls around your tent like a turtle poking its head out of its shell. Faces contort as if skin is controlled by a puppeteer. The voice-acted moans and groans are the stuff of badly dubbed porn. Some will play Dragon Age purely for juvenile titillation, and the game will answer the call appropriately. And yet your sexual desire is mostly the result of genuine affection, cultivated over tens of hours spent conversing and courting and killing countless darkspawn.

Dragon Age is big. Hundreds of hours of gameplay are possible.

Dragon Age is big. Hundreds of hours of gameplay are possible.

The game's visuals are generally unimpressive. Bland isn't the correct term, nor is uninspiring - indeed the environments and characters are well detailed - it is more that there is a lack of variety and pizzazz. There is a sense that the many dungeons have been designed not by human beings with imaginations, but by complex computer programs with elaborate subroutines. Perhaps the game suffers from the bar set by BioWare's own Mass Effect, or perhaps it's the result of the game being over five years in the making. Whatever the reason, Dragon Age lacks the wow factor Mass Effect had in spades. It's a Lord of the Rings aesthetic, well executed but never jaw-dropping.

It's a fault easy to forgive, however, because the game is impossible to put down. Its world is so vast, engrossing and in depth that all but the most critical of fantasy RPG fans will find it irresistible. Your party members, all brilliantly voice-acting and with varied and interesting personalities and intriguing motives - steal the show. Levelling up comes rarely, which makes the geek-out pleasure of fussing over what to spend points on all the more potent. The world is huge, full of clever main quests and engaging head-scratchers. Combat sequences can last hours as you battle through overrun castles, underground caverns and trap-filled hideouts. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, people to speak to and monsters to slay - qualities that dull any disappointment the KOTOR-style linear structure might bring. The combat is always challenging, which more than makes up for the lack of variety. Dragon Age pushes the well-worn RPG buttons with such experience that fans of the genre will lose entire evenings to the game in what feels like a blink of an eye.

Others, however, will wonder what all the fuss is about. They will find the silent protagonist, aka you, a poor substitute for Commander Shepard's fully voice-acted third-person personality. They will find selecting unspoken lines of dialogue an evolutionary regression from Mass Effect's dynamic conversation wheel. They will find the combat requires a pause too often. In short, they will find the game… old. Of course Mass Effect fans are capable of enjoying Dragon Age - I am one myself. This is merely a warning. Do not buy the game expecting Mass Effect in Oblivion's clothes. Do not create a character expecting an adrenaline-pumping 20 hour Hollywood adventure. Do not pick a fight with an NPC expecting your skill with a targeting reticule to carry you to victory. You will die, quickly. "Your journey will end," as the game says, often.

Instead, expect hundreds of hours of fan service condensed into a familiar experience. With Dragon Age: Origins BioWare is giving something back to lovers of Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate. Its role-playing is superb, but not revolutionary. It is a fantasy RPG so obviously crafted for the PC that it seems pointless to consider playing it on an alternative platform. It is an experience as compelling as it is archaic. This trip back in time to the glory days of the PC is welcome, but it makes you appreciate the advances made by modern day RPGs Mass Effect and Fallout 3. They don't make them like they used to, grumpy 30-something PC gamers claim. BioWare does, and you should be grateful.

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Highest Rated Comment

mydeaddog's Avatar


Don't worry, we've fired the guy who wrote that review.
Posted 16:33 on 26 July 2010

User Comments

Roland_D11's Avatar

Roland_D11@ mydeaddog

Lol, power to the haters, huh? ;-) Why was Seb fired then, his Lego Harry Potter Review? ;-)
Posted 17:31 on 26 July 2010
robz48's Avatar

robz48@ mydeaddog

Posted 16:56 on 26 July 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar


Don't worry, we've fired the guy who wrote that review.
Posted 16:33 on 26 July 2010
lancedulak's Avatar

lancedulak@ wyp100

Oh wow. This is literally the worst review i've ever read. And implying that "mass effect" and the other shiny new reworks of "mist" are the ultimate video games? Videogamers hiring standards must be "he can type"...

This is one of the best RPG's i've ever played. Period. And the graphics are excellent. Ill be silent now but this is literally the most juvenile, ignorant video game review ive ever read.
Posted 10:13 on 26 July 2010
adamtingle's Avatar


I love this game with a retro passion. While I enjoy the advances in RPG making, like the saying goes, "They don't make 'em like they used to" and to be quite honest, Dragon Age is the way RPG's should be made.
Posted 22:59 on 02 January 2010
LardLad5160's Avatar


This PC version of this game is terrible. I have my 6 month old PC with Nvidia 9300 set to lowest graphics settings and it still runs like garbage. Slow as molasses. Even the character auto presets lag in moderate sized battles. Their support is a joke as is the support forum which is exhausting to use. I haven't bought a EA game since Earth and Beyond. It will be as least as long before I buy another. I would take this POS back if they would let me.
Posted 02:30 on 27 November 2009
cuthberto's Avatar


I will never understand why people complain about an 80% review score. Plus, it makes perfect sense to compare this to ME because to a lot of people, all they know about bioware is Mass Effect. I think it's a very well written review which covers all of the things you need to know about the game to decide for yourself if you are going to like it.
Posted 15:28 on 17 November 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ strongharm

Love how you say his opinion is wrong lol only God can justify how an opinion is wrong lol
Posted 08:02 on 16 November 2009
jimsmithers's Avatar


This game is crap - utter crap. The game play is worse than Baldur's Gate because of the confusing impractical (but cool looking) 3d aspect. I agree 100% with the reviewer in this regard. The game is linear in content with very little imagination. One's dialogue choices eventually lead down the same road. You are forced to play a goody-two-shoes type character whose job is save the world (ho-hum - like this hasn't been done in every other RPG). Do not believe any review or advertisement that lauds choice as a selling point - it simply is not true.

I realize that psychoanalysts probably have determined that people who enjoy playing RPGs do so for the emotional payoff of "saving the world." However, I wish that designers would dig a little deeper in the story and character aspect of these games.

Bottom line - if you want to play a good RPG - then play Oblivion or return to Torment or Baldur's Gate. If you want to watch a fantasy movie, then watch Lord of the Rings (which is what this game could have been called).

Also, I found the constant religious references and black and white value system to be dull, predictable, and irritating.
Posted 07:13 on 16 November 2009
strongharm's Avatar


What is the employment status of this writer? If he isn't going to a welding trade school by now I don't think I want to come back to this site.
Posted 03:22 on 13 November 2009
SquareBare's Avatar


The reviewer demonstrates here what is known as "Analogstickitis" which is a common condition that affects many younger gamers. It's behavioral symptoms include...

1. Rapidly spamming buttons to make your characters fight better and get those cut-scenes and dialog trees out of the way faster.

2. Devoting 2 paragraphs of a review to the way you believe the characters should sexually interact in a RPG.

3. Inability to distinguish between a FPS with RPG elements such as Fallout and Mass Effect and a true RPG such as Dragon Age.

I know it must have been horrible for you to play this archaic game, with its 92% metacritic score and what not. I know that progressing through the story and picking all of those dialog options must have required a lot of contemplation and that can hurt from time to time.

But its all over now, you can rest your mind. The new call of duty will be out soon and all this this thinking you had to do will be nothing but a painful distant memory.

Now for you true RPG fans out there. This has been called the RPG of the decade because it IS the first real RPG in a decade. And the fact that it hasn't been dumbed down to fit the majority of the ADHD console crowd is why it is sitting on that amazing metacritic score... and to think it only took 10 years for anyone to realize what was missing.
Posted 19:11 on 07 November 2009
strongharm's Avatar


'Does nothing new or groundbreaking?' Your editor is retarded for giving you this article. Did you forget to take your medication before you tried this game? Your opinion not only differs from 90% of the people who have played this, it's completely wrong. I hope you and your editor both get bent over a desk with no lube. Maybe they'll take you both at the political desk at CNN.
Posted 08:23 on 07 November 2009
marobaro's Avatar


He compared it to 1 game down to the menus :) Mass Effect is hardly a total representative of the RPG genre. First of all there are many subsets such as action RPG(Diablo, etc.), fps RPG(System Shock, Deus Ex, Fallout 3, etc.), dungeon crawlers a la BG and Icewind Dale (which were released for consoles even to good reception.) And then there are squad-based RPGs ala Fallout & Final Fantasy Tactics, UFO, Jagged Alliance, and more. There are open ended RPGs(Fable, Fallout, etc.) and linear RPGS(such as Final Fantasy RPGs.) There are strategy RPGs such as Mouth & Blade and many others. And then there are fantasy and sci-fi RPGs. And even then you hardly compare things down to the menus. I mean if the menus do what they are supposed to do then he just prefers the other way and there is really no place for preference in a review.
Posted 19:36 on 06 November 2009
goodterling's Avatar


FINALLY someone who mentions the poor graphics. Every movie I've seen of Dragon Age, my reaction has been YUCK. Graphics are simultaneously flat and garishly colored--like they went in and cranked up the saturation after the fact. A 100 hours looking at that? Every reviewer goes on and on about the high detail, and ignores the crap art direction.
Posted 02:15 on 06 November 2009
Endless's Avatar

Endless@ mhrist

You can't review a game and not compare it to other games in the same genre, it wouldn't be a complete review if you didn't have points of comparison.
Posted 20:38 on 05 November 2009

Game Stats

System Requirements
Dragon Age: Origins
Out of 10
Dragon Age: Origins
  • Vast, engrossing high fantasy world
  • Brilliant supporting cast
  • Huge replay value
  • Generic graphics
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 06/11/2009
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 725 16
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