Developer(s) – Bioware & Edge of Reality
Publisher(s) – EA Games
Director – Dan Tudge
Producer(s) – Dan Tudge & Mark Darrah
PEGI – 18
The spiritual successor to the Baldur’s Gate series, Dragon Age: Origins is another RPG that combines elements of both turn-based and real-time time combat, which was well-received upon release and winning several awards in the process. However, its one of very many games that have tried this formula in recent years, but failed to appeal to me.
Graphics – 8/10
Although I think the game is nigh on unplayable, it does have its finer points, and the visuals are one of them. Made with same engine as their Mass Effect series, there is a lot of textural detail in elements such as character’s armour, blood effects, scenery and especially facial expressions. They do extremely well to convey the seriousness of the story to players. In terms of conceptual design, the game is pretty typical of the medieval fantasy genre, but there are certain elements to keep it somewhat fresh, such as original creatures.
Gameplay – 1/10
Unfortunately, it’s the most important aspect of any game that I find to be the biggest problem in this title. The combat system was impossible for me to work with, being one of the most convoluted of which I’d ever found in any video game, and in my opinion, its one that wouldn’t be fixed until Dragon Age: Inquisition, when the entire would be simplified, and would play out in a style more akin to Grandia. But to me, the first game was clearly a question of trial and error, and I don’t believe it passed the test the first time round.
Controls – 4/10
Though it may be easy enough to move around and talk to people within the game, the convoluted combat system also took its toll on the game’s control scheme in my opinion. The combat wheel used to switch between spells and other abilities was far too complicated for me to get to grips with, and so consequently, I ended up button-mashing most of the time, which made me feel as if I was playing a fighting game as opposed to an RPG.
Lifespan – 10/10
For those who are more lukewarm to the style of combat in this game than I am, they will be treated to an exceptionally long gaming experience at least, with the potential to clock in at about 60 to 80 hours. Despite the major flaws this game has in my opinion, there are many different side quests and extra curricular activities present to make it last an extraordinarily long time.
Storyline – 8/10
Though the setting and scenery may be pretty typical of the fantasy genre, the story is anything but. Describe as a “dark heroic fantasy” by Bioware, It follows the customisable player character in his bid to unite the kingdom of Ferelden against a demonic force called the Darkspawn. The story is gritty, political, and at times, particularly suspenseful. The game also features a fairly impressive cast of actors, including Simon Templeman, Claudia Blake, and even Tim Curry.
Originality – 6/10
The game does have its unique aspects about it, but in my opinion, its combat system makes it unique for all the wrong reasons. Not only that, but as I said, the scenery and style is particularly typical of it’s genre. Its uniqueness relies mostly in the basic structure and series of events that make up the progression of the story. Indeed, there aren’t many other RPGs that are this dark. The exceptions being games like Breath of Fire IV or to a certain extent, Oblivion.
To summarize, Dragon Age: Origins is one of the weaker RPGs I’ve played in recent years, and while it has it’s strong points, wants in the aspect that truly matters; the gameplay. The fact that its won so many award and garnished so much positive acclaim gives testament that a game like this does indeed have its place. Unfortunately, it’s just not for me.