Dragon Age's world is dark, bloody and brutal.
Dragon Age's world is dark, bloody and brutal.

Dragon Age's world is dark, bloody and brutal.

It is a giant leap back in time. It is an old school fantasy RPG for old school fantasy RPG fans. It is a 100 hour epic for those with the time and patience to experience it. It is a step in the wrong direction for some, but, for a chosen few, it is a step in the right direction.

Not for them is the third-person cover-based shooting of Mass Effect. Not for them are radial dialogue wheels. Not for them are cinematic camera angles and film grain effects. Not for them are trendy science fiction shotguns and power wheels mapped to controller shoulder buttons. For them, top down camera angles, text-based dialogue and spells and swords and rings and Dwarven chainmail are as welcoming as a camp fire set in an elven forest.

This is Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare's latest RPG epic. It is a game that modern day BioWare fans, schooled on the Canadian studio's skill in making console RPGs accessible without sacrifice, may have imagined as Mass Effect in Oblivion's clothes. They were wrong. Dragon Age is archaic. It is the spiritual successor to BioWare's own Baldur's Gate series, which last saw a release in 2001 with Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. It is a game that reeks of decade-old PC mechanics, both good and bad. It is a game designed for the mouse and keyboard interface of the PC, and for PC fans familiar with the genre's jargon. Pause-and-play combat, spell combinations, aggro, tanking, dispelling, buffing, ranged DPS, melee DPS, talents, skills, willpower, constitution, rogues, warriors, mages, humans, dwarfs, elves... for the Dragon Age fan these terms are as familiar as the simple act of clicking on a line of unspoken dialogue.

This is not to say Dragon Age is a poor game - it is superb, in fact. It sucks you in from the moment it begins, and, like the best page-turners, leaves an itch in your mind. In the shower, on the bus, at work, in meetings, over dinner, Dragon Age's gargantuan world is there, compelling you to return like an addict seeking a hit of relief.

Duncan the Grey Warden acts as your guide during the early hours of the game

Duncan the Grey Warden acts as your guide during the early hours of the game

This addiction sets in remarkably quickly, which is testament to the gravity of the game's opening. Your first act is a choice; one you know will affect all that follows. Which Origin story do I wish to play? There are six: human noble, magi, city elf, Dalish elf, dwarf commoner and dwarf noble. Your starting area, your first hour with the game, and how the game's many non-player characters react to you, is changed as a result of this choice. It's a remarkable effort on BioWare's part. If we were to score replayability, Dragon Age would get a 10.

I am Alexia, a female human noble. She is tall, beautiful and blonde. She favours coercion over brute force, despite her proficiency with one-handed blades and shields. She is a herbalist, able to concoct healing potions by combining flasks with Ferelden's many plants. She began her adventure as a warrior in training - fearsome, but privileged. Her family are aristocrats, admired and respected as members of the noble house Cousland. But their cosy peace is about to be shattered: there is a darkness coming. The Blight is here. The darkspawn, evil mutant monsters, wish to purge the land of all that is good and green. Some wish to ignore the threat; others, including the mysterious and powerful warriors known as the Grey Wardens, know the truth, for they faced the darkspawn hundreds of years ago. Their mission is to first convince the races of the world to mobilise for war, then send the darkspawn back into the hole from which they crawled.

Whatever your Origin story, you end up recruited into the Grey Wardens and fighting the darkspawn in the Battle of Ostagar. It is a scene airlifted from The Lord of the Rings' Battle of Helm's Deep: As the battle rages below the fortress' stone walls, as the night sky spews a relentless rain, you, along with three party members, head to a tower to signal a flanking force. Inside, darkspawn defend. You make your way to the top and slay an ogre. Blood and guts adorn your sword, armour and face. But aid does not come: You are betrayed as your ally turns its back on the battle. You escape, but only just. You find the Grey Wardens' good name tarnished - you are blamed for the defeat. From there, you set out to spread the truth and mobilise bickering factions into action. The darkspawn have arrived, and their fury will be without mercy.

It is a familiar setup, one high fantasy fans will have seen before. Indeed, Dragon Age is a familiar game, one that does nothing new or groundbreaking. The PC version (the version tested), is particularly old school, with a tooltip-based user interface and a panned-out top-down perspective - one the console versions do not include - for easier party micro-management. The combat is a brutal, bloody, and slow clash of steel and magic. The mechanics are as they were a decade ago. The space bar pauses combat - your four-man party frozen in time as you dish out precise actions. What buffs should I trigger? What abilities should I use? What spells should my mage cast? Where should I position my rogue? Who is tanking, and what? Dragon Age on PC is unforgiving. BioWare violates the Trades Description Act with its "Easy" difficulty setting. The game demands careful planning, flanking tactics and clever use of skills. A word of advice: quick save as often as your F5 button can withstand.

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Highest Rated Comment

mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

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

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

mydeaddog

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

adamtingle

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

LardLad5160

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

cuthberto

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

jimsmithers

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

strongharm

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

SquareBare

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

strongharm

'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
Mastorofpuppetz's Avatar

Mastorofpuppetz@ wyp100

Me radial menu works brilliantly? more like a real conversation? LMAO, yeah, you are hand held to knwo what response is good, bad or neutral, and if you miss something, yuo can keep going back and ask all other options anyway, ME's radial menu was a step back, and to easy to manipulate.

DA's use of dialog is vastly superior, with no real way of knowing how people will react (Like real life), and often, if you say something they do not like, that conversation path is forver lot, sorry, but ME's radial wheel is dumbed down in comparison. It's more intuitive because you can move ina circle? LOL.

reviewer = Mass effect fanboy, who was simply biased. It is averaging 92% across all reviews, this review blows.

If your gonna compare it to another rpg, Me is a bad example, as EM is a simple dumbed down console rpg in comparison, this is a party based tactical RPG, other then beign rpg's, they are totally different animals. Reviewer = fail.
Posted 19:53 on 06 November 2009
Mastorofpuppetz's Avatar

Mastorofpuppetz@ El-Dev

Umm, eurogamer are always harsh and rarely give anything above 8, Da is averaging 92% and many sites calling it the RPG of the decade, this review is easily the worst review of the game I have ever read.

he specifically states that Me and Fallout 3 show how far games have com along, say what? reviewer is an idiot.
Posted 19:50 on 06 November 2009
marobaro's Avatar

marobaro

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

Game Stats

System Requirements
8
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: 283 2
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