Just wow. Yes, that is the only word I can possibly utter as I finished Dragon Age: Origins.
I am not lying.
As I played through the 90 hours of story, I kept commenting to my friend Pete that this was probably the best game I’ve ever had the privilege to own. The best game ever made. I’m being totally serious. It’s a pretty big statement to make, and I’ll stand by it.
The world is rich and warm. It plays on familiar fantasy tropes (i.e. good vs. evil) and simultaneously keeps everything fresh.
Bioware is the same company that is making the new Star Wars MMO: The Old Republic. If Dragon Age: Origins is any indication of what is to come, I may never been seen again.
This “choose your own adventure” mechanic was a wild ride from the moment I started. Never have I been moved by story in a video game. There were a few seamless cut-scenes where I found myself crying or staring at the screen in complete and utter awe. There have been fun and frantic rides through games like Half Life 2 and Bioshock, but as far as true immersion in characters and plot, this pulled me in and never let go.
The combat system only adds to the beautiful complexity of this game. If you try to go in with swords afire and without tactical planning, you will get your ass handed to you multiple times. Have you ever had a deadpan conversation with a friend that sounded like this:
Pete: “Umm. Wow.”
Kate: “Umm. What?”
Pete: “The dragon. Yeah, it just picked up Alastair and chewed on him a little. Until, he died.”
Kate: “Yep. It does that.”
Pete: “And there goes my other character.”
Pete:”And my whole party.”
Even setting down the difficulty will not get you far. The fighting lures you in the early levels. It’s all glorified gore and easy battles, but as you continue on with the story, it gets substantially harder. A room of ten soldiers and a boss had me pausing and issuing commands every two seconds. There is no tank and spank. You need to approach every battle with strategy and thought.
The picture above is the other favorite thing about the game. You don’t start this adventure with your best friends. Through gifts and social interactions, you butter them up and eventually convince them you’re worth a damn. I chose to romance Alastair, the other Grey Warden in the party. It paid off with a campy but sweet love scene. Bioware chose to leave on the undies, and I can see why they wanted to save their skins from all the watchdog groups out there, but I still think they made the wrong choice. I’ve never understood the mentality that a violence fest, complete with bloody finishing moves is generally accepted, but the minute the kissing starts, we pull our kids away with disgust.
If you’re letting your thirteen year old play this game, you’ve got bigger problems than a 30 second pixelated tender moment.
Regardless, Bioware deserves the ratings it’s getting from the gaming community and I’m already itching to play a sequel.
I’d love to do a voice for one of the characters. Can anyone from Bioware help me out on that one? 😉
Go play this game. You won’t regret it. Oh and get it on the PC. Consoles are for losers. 😉 Okay, maybe not losers, but from what I’ve read, the game is far more challenging and complex when played on a PC.