10th November 2009

48 Hours Into Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age OriginsI have now logged over 48 hours of game play (probably closer to 58 now, because I started writing this yesterday) in Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360 CE), and there are many aspects I really like, but there are some that may take a bit of warming up to. Having read both of the prequel novels written by Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider, I knew a fair bit of the back-story and my progress through the game has been greatly aided by that knowledge. I am still amazed at the amount of story yet to be revealed through the Codex additions – I have lots of reading of the story’s bits and pieces I have picked up so far through quests, conversations and random items. This is a positive aspect, because I like games which tell a good story. The writing in Dragon Age is tight – and humorous. I have found myself at times just standing and listening to my “henchies” talk, and there has been many a time that I find myself laughing outDragon Age: The Stolen Throne loud at their dialogue. There are also a number of references to modern pop culture in the game – some of it so subtle that it can be missed if one is not paying attention. The “light” has gone on a few times after certain scenes or dialogues, when I realize what has transpired and its reference to something in our society.

I went with the human noble warrior for my first go around – I wanted to be a caster, because that is what I’m good at, but Scott talked me into trying something different. It has become (sometimes painfully) obvious that I am a far better caster than I am a warrior. Thank goodness for the ability to change which party member I can control during battle. I will, however, admit that I am getting better at melee combat. I still have a long way to go at being highly proficient in close-up and personal fighting, but I certainly like the amount of control Bioware gave us in character creation. I also really like that each character – Dwarf, Human or Elf has its own story beginning, as this adds to the replayability factor.

Each of the party member’s distinct personalities and beliefs play very important roles in how the game Dragon Age Templarunfolds, as does each choice you make in the dialogue trees. One could almost feel sorry for Alistair as he goes through relentless teasing at the hands of Morrigan, whose own jaded view of the world at large often prevents her from seeing the simple good in people as anything other than weakness. During last night’s play, I caught Wynne also giving Alistair a rough time about filthy socks. Meanwhile Leliana appears to be the complete opposite – she is strong in her belief of all things good,  although I have a feeling that this is going to change at some point in time. Just a hunch – and some advance reading on Scott’s part. I haven’t made a lot of use of Zevran and Sten yet, but I’m sure they’ll get their chance in battle as well.

I’ve read many online comments about areas where players aren’t happy with the Tactics menu, or they aren’t happy with some of the sudden difficulty spikes. Maybe it’s just my play style, but I am not disappointed by any of it. Yes, some of the battles are insanely difficult and my hero may end up as a pile of ashes after being blasted by a huge fireball, but thanks to the Save Game function which I mostly remember to use, it’s “try, try again” for me. I probably died a dozen times trying to defeat Flemeth before going and doing some different quests first in order to level my Grey Warden some more and perhaps gain a little more help in the way of additional party members. Once I completed the quest for Shale and kicked Alistair out of the party for this particular task, I did it in one go. Shale is a very effective tank when equipped with the right crystals for the job. Next time around I will have to Dragon Age Originsremember to go get Shale before hunting for the urn. Perhaps then I won’t turn into a crispy critter because I just had to ring the gong to see what it did. Apparently the dragon landing on the cliff edge was supposed to be a clue. Maker bless the Load Last Save function.

While I sometimes find the long cinematic conversations frustrating, I realize that they are an important game component – dispelling knowledge and opening different paths in the story, but geez sometimes I just want to get on with eliminating the vile creatures who are trying to take over my map.  On the plus side is the ability to skip forward through the conversations to get to where you want to be – whether it’s to retry a battle or to try a different path in the dialogue trees. On my next play-through I might just take the time to solve the puzzle and let the little girl live instead of allowing Kitty to possess her.

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