Initial Impressions: DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS

I played a little bit more than just an hour on this massive console role-playing game from BioWare. Some of that was because I spent about twenty minutes of my usual hour making my character . . . and I was kind of rushing it. The first thing I was struck by when I finally got into the game was the quality of the introductory cut-scenes, or rather the lack of. I was surprised, after seeing the awesome prerendered trailers, to find the graphic quality of the intro to be so . . . lacking. The color palette is drab and the characters have very little distinguishing qualities. By the time the game actually started, I’d either gotten over or grown accustomed to the graphics as they didn’t bother me much afterward.

On to the game itself. The simple description: DRAGON AGE feels like a high fantasy FALLOUT 3, though with seemingly fewer meaningful choices in how you want to play your character. Not surprisingly, for a game with the proclaimed epicness of over 60 hours of gameplay, the start was slow. I played for about and hour and a half and ran into a handful of throwaway battles and two “real” ones with my human mage. They all took place in the span of about a half hour, during my characters rite of passage trial, which basically amounted to a tutorial. The rest of my time was spent wondering around the mage tower looking through cabinets and talking to random non-player characters while searching for Irving, the man I apparently needed to talk to to get the party started story-wise.

The game mechanics were polished and overall the game played well. The game is a third-person action role-playing game. Your character fights his opponent’s in real-time with a fairly intuitive hotkey system that allows the easy use of up to six abilities plus the regular attack. I found moving around while attacking to be a cumbersome affair, so my character ended up stationary during most of his fights. BioWare made no attempt to hide The underlying Dungeons & Dragons mechanics, which, though solid, seem somewhat archaic in gaming terms and I wonder if it’s not time for designers to eschew the old pen-and-paper models for character leveling in a role-playing game.

Overall, DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS has a somewhat compelling world, drab-looking characters (probably due to an effort to keep things feeling realistic), and solid gameplay based on a time-tested, though archaic, system.


Currently Playing: StarCraft II

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