Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening Review for Xbox 360

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The game's called Dragon Age. What did you expect?
The game's called Dragon Age. What did you expect?

The game's called Dragon Age. What did you expect?

In the run up to Dragon Age: Origins' 2009 release, developer BioWare banged on about it being a platform from which new content would be unleashed upon the gaming world. So far, BioWare's efforts haven't exactly set the world of Ferelden on fire. Return to Ostagar rehashed already explored areas. Warden's Keep was threadbare. Only The Stone Prisoner was genuinely worth a look. Now, with Awakening, Dragon Age's first standalone expansion, has BioWare finally got it right?

We're still trying to work out what we want from downloadable content, aren't we? DLC is good, it seems, if it's good value. So, we find ourselves wondering: is Awakening, which you can download or go old school and buy from a shop (unless you own a PS3, in which case you can only download), worth £30 (or £20 on PC)?

Absolutely. Awakening is packed to bursting with content. At 25 or so hours, the campaign, set after the events of Origins, gives you more "bang for your buck" than most full-priced games. It raises the level cap, opens up an entirely new area of Ferelden to explore, adds 56 new talents and spells, three new skill chains, more than 500 new items, two new tiers of weapons and armour, several new types of runes, five new party members, and a partridge in a pear tree (that last one is a lie).

Awakening, then, is undoubtedly good value. So, it's good, then, right? Well, like a tortuous break up, it's more complicated than that. Awakening is more of the same. It does nothing to right any of Origins' wrongs, nor does it seek to improve upon what worked. In some areas, it's even slightly worse.

Boo.

Boo.

You begin either as an imported character from Origins, which retains his or her background story and gear (sans, annoyingly, any loot gathered from the previous DLC), or as a new Grey Warden from Orlais, sent to rebuild the Grey Wardens in Ferelden. Either way, you're a big cheese - at least level 18 - so when you rock up to Vigil's Keep in Amaranthine, the new land mass set to the northeast of the previous game area, there's a lot to sort out. Like a darkspawn attack.

That's right, the darkspawn are back. The Blight was defeated, but stragglers remain, and they're setting up shop in the northeast, terrorising everyone and anyone silly enough to invade their personal space. But this time something's different. This time, the darkspawn are capable of more than the mindless slaughtering of farmers and townsfolk. This time, they're talking to each other, guided by a new, mysterious being called The Architect who likes philosophical discussion and post-modernist debate (that last bit's another lie). As the new warden-commander of Ferelden, the responsibility falls to you to clear the darkspawn out, and unravel the mystery behind these new intelligent beasties.

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renegade's Avatar

renegade

This game is not 25 hours long... it took me 10 lol, and i did mostly all of the quests,.
Posted 14:33 on 19 March 2010
calvinlo's Avatar

calvinlo

I don't care about improvements and all that. I just want the storyline in Dragon Age to continue and it did! Definitely buying.
Posted 15:55 on 17 March 2010
wyp100's Avatar

wyp100@ Endless

Awakening is set after the end of Origins, which I think is pretty cool. It's not often we get to see the morning after the night before in video games. But, conversely, there is a risk that the epic-ness of game endings is diminished by this sort of thing.

In this case, I think BioWare has handled it well.
Posted 14:07 on 17 March 2010
Endless's Avatar

Endless

You only played Origins for 40-50 hours? Damn my clocked playtime was well over 80 by the time i'd finished the game. I'm just not sure i'm bothered about DLC for RPGs. I don't know where it fits for me, it seems perfect for other game-types, but I just tend to find myself thinking....but this is all over isn't it? Surely I've righted all the wrongs by now? Meh.
Posted 11:20 on 17 March 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

25 hours gameplay? I will invest in this! I did enjoy the Origins story and the story for this sounds interesting as well. Good stuff Wes, keep it up :D
Posted 23:28 on 16 March 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

I do wish they had incorporated the inter-party politics system within Mass Effect 2. I still dislike the very clumsy feel to combat within DA:O, but will pick this up when the summer lull hits us.
Posted 22:01 on 16 March 2010
renegade's Avatar

renegade

Dragon age cost v content.

Dragon Age Origins - 20 pound = 40-50 hours gameplay
the 3 paid DLC 7 pound (i got one free) -5 hours
Awakening - 15 pound - 25 hours

So for about 40 pound you get 70 hours of content. Epic :D
Posted 19:22 on 16 March 2010
dudester's Avatar

dudester

Nice wes I was convinced it was something I could skip but now I have doubts damn you Wes!
Posted 17:55 on 16 March 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Wow, I have no idea if I'd buy that if I ever played Dragon Age.
Such a massive expansion, four times the size of most games!
Posted 17:13 on 16 March 2010
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

I waaaaant. Although a little annoyed that I'll have to download it.
Posted 16:42 on 16 March 2010
renegade's Avatar

renegade

25 hours of gameplay :O seriously lol. DAM im sold.
Posted 16:29 on 16 March 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
8
Out of 10
Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening
  • 25 hours of gameplay
  • Some cool new characters
  • Loads of new toys to play with
  • No sex please
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 19/03/2010
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: RPG
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 1,079 62
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