I finally decided to talk about Dragon Age: Origins
by, 10 Jun 2012 at 11:27 PM (2406 Views)
I won't bore you guys with my opinion of Bioware today. Instead I'll bore you with my opinion of Bioware's last good game, Dragon Age: Origins.
It's been awhile since I've played this game and I've already forgotten a lot about it. Forgive me if I miss some of the finer details.
You are a dwarven/elven/human man or a woman who up until now had a noble/peasant/awesome/lame upbringing. Well that all changed when some clown tricked you into becoming a Grey Warden. After a wild hazing ritual you lose a huge battle and get rescued by a woman who could only afford 1/3rd of a shirt. Your task is to unite a bunch of idiots against something known as the blight, which basically consists of a huge freaking dragon and a bunch of guys who look like they were from The Lord of the Rings. No worries though because your highly original antagonists are more like a force of nature that exists to compel you towards doing the right thing, or whatever thing coincides with your interests. Either you reunite the land and save everyone from the blight, or you reload from your last save.
Dragon Age is like a mish-mash of Final Fantasy XII and...Baldur's Gate? No way! That'd be silly! You get a party of four, assign them whatever DA's word for "gambits" are, and then point them towards anything that aggroes. If things don't turn out quite the way you plan you're free to jump in and make all-important decisions like "heal" and "fight extra hard". Origins is surprisingly tough at first, especially if you're like me and did a handful of areas out of order. Before long however you'll realize the importance of magic and how utterly broken it is. Every battle must start with a fireball. This is the second-most important thing to know about Dragon Age: Origins (the first is that The Fade sucks). Fireballs are incredible because they do great damage and knock the enemies down, which disorganizes them and gives your party the advantage before anyone gets close to melee range. Mages have other spells that are also overpowered and if you don't like their squishiness you can make them into Spirit Warriors so their absurd magic stat goes into their armor rating. Why settle for glass cannons when you can get titanium cannons? Also this does away with the actual weakness of being a Mage, which is they wear the most terrible clothes imaginable. I thought blew-all-her-clothing-money-on-mascara had problems but when the alternative is dressing like High BDSM Fantasy or the dope that falls from the sky in Morrowind I guess it's a wash.
When you're not nuking entire populations and wiping their blood all over your shiny armor, you're probably engaged in conversations with losers. Okay maybe the people you meet aren't losers but they're certainly not Grey Wardens. If they don't like it when you tell them off and steal all their money they can turn to...umm...they can turn to the left and exit the cut-scene, never to be seen again (why is this in so many Bioware games?) Your actions may influence your party members and if they're really happy they get some bonuses to their attributes. You could also sleep with them I suppose but that is just plain weird. Most of the time this is more effort than it's worth and the reward will make you think less of yourself. Still it is fun trying new character combinations and certain characters have really good chemistry. If you can hang on to the insufferable whiny dunderhead and the barely-clothed bog-lady they make a great couple, in that they harp on each other relentlessly. It's fun to see characters in your party that outright hate each other and remind you about it every step of the way.
If you picked up the ultimate edition you got this huge pile of crap you won't know what to do with. Thankfully you're still reading this review and by extension my wonderful opinion on all this additional content. Awakening is the major expansion and it's worth playing. Everyone is stupid-good and it's not uncommon to find weapons that give +a zillion to every stat. The Stone Prisoner adds a swell Golem to your party and who doesn't love big guys who crush things? Warden's keep adds a keep for your Warden, always handy. Return to Ostagar offers more fighting and bland story-telling, two things you're not exactly hurting for in Dragon Age. Leliana's Song and Witch Hunt are about as exciting as being named president of a turnip factory. The Golems of Amgarrak and The Darkspawn Chronicles? I haven't played either of them so they're probably really awesome or really stupid. You also get a bunch of other dumb goodies like silly armor and items for circumventing that whole "creating bonds with your party" nonsense. The best part is all of the additional content is on a separate disc that you install on your 360, so feel free to pass that disc around to all your friends.
As much as I crack on this game I can't deny that it's really entertaining. The combat is satisfying, the rewards are usually worthwhile, and there's just enough variety that if you can stop throwing fireballs for a minute you might find something that interests you. Plus while the story isn't anything worthwhile there is a ton of appeal in creating your ideal warden and making decisions that dick over as many people as possible. Also if you're unlike me and actually bother with investing in your PC, you can get a superior version that allows for modding. Then again with modders you never know. They might come up with some great stuff like being able to skip The Fade or stuff that has no business being seen by others...which I'm not going to bother to look up because I value my well-being.
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