Role-Playing Greatness- Dragon Age: Origins Review

After thirty years of gaming and hundreds of written reviews, I am still having a difficult time putting the experience of Dragon Age into words.  A portion of the problem is related to the game’s enormous scope- with six distinct stories each branching into thousands of directions over a sixty hour quest, seeing the entire game is a near impossibility. However, the bigger predicament emanates from the game’s feel. Having immersed myself in interactive entertainment for so long, I can typically perceive a game’s internal structure; every reaction by the player is countered by a game’s reaction. This cycle becomes a game’s logic, and if you play any title long enough, it becomes painfully visible. It’s usually when a game stops being interesting.

Standing in sharp contrast to nearly every game I’ve ever played is Dragon Age: Origins, a title that feels remarkably organic. Unlike say, the moral dilemmas presented by Fallout 3, choices in Dragon Age are subtle and influence a range a consequences. Not only do decisions directly affect players, they influence the protagonist’s relationships with other NPCs. While the main storyline follows a fairly linear path, it’s the small interactional deviations that give’s Dragon Age its natural vibe, and make the title a must-play experience for role-playing aficionados.

At the game’s commencement, players pick a gender, race and class. Depending on the adventurer’s choice, one or two or six available backgrounds will be become available. These are the game’s ‘origins’, three hour prologues to the title’s main story. Each of the back stories are remarkably different in tone, but serve to show the variety of backgrounds that compose the Grey Wardens- the game’s diverse band of heroes tasked with the elimination of the nefarious Darkspawn. Bioware’s deft handling of emblematic fantasy tropes is especially fascinating, as dwarves have a rigid caste system, and elves are part of a subverted underclass.

Once players have completed the game’s preface, the adventure opens up exponentially, as players are tasked with creating (and maintaining) an adventuring party. Each of the different factions in Dragon’s Age’s world has its own priorities that must be attended to before they can commit to the gamer’s militia. These recruitment quests are both stirring and amazingly intricate, as players are lead through boundless tests of allegiances, where each decision is superbly murky.

One of the fundamental components of any RPG is its combat system- its quality can make or break a game. Few gamers are willing to trek through a protracted adventure if battles feel unfulfilling. On the upper skill levels, Dragon’s Ages skirmishes are consistently challenging and gratifying. Although conflict plays out in real time, it’s mostly statistically-based, examining the difference in attack and defense scores to inmate a successful strike. Players can pause the action at any time to bring up the game’s rotary command ring, which can order team members to quaff a potion, or even alter their tactics. While most of the game’s sword and arrow fodder are easily dispatched, larger foes will require a healthy dose of micro-management to slay.

Role players with an insatiable loot fetish, should find gratification in Dragon Age: Origins. Defeated foes, chests, and other treasure-concealing containers offer an eye-catching shimmer to entice inspection. Players will find the requisite collection of weapons, armor, potions, and coinage; only in the game’s later hours does the plunder ever edge on redundancy. As is typical to the genre, weapons and armor have powers that alter the player’s statistics, or even be augmented with a found rune.

Visually, Dragon Age seems stifled by its single disk of content. While the game’s characters and settings are competently rendered, sporadic close-up shots can look blurry or pixelated. The title’s single signature effect is an enduring blood splatter on characters faces and armor, which seems to convey the savagery to combat. The game’s aural palette stands out as an RPG exemplar; both the game’s stirring music and voice-over work are of the highest caliber.

Dragon Age: Origins offers one of the most expansive and intricate role-playing experiences ever presented to console gamers. Although novice adventurers may be overcome by the title’s complexity and duration, RPG veterans will bask in the game’s dazzling discursiveness. From the title’s exceptional voice-work to its consummate weaving of narrative fibers, Dragon Age: Origins stands as one of most immersive gaming experiences on the current hardware generation.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

91 comments

  1. I hearing so much love for this!

  2. So guys, better than Mass Effect?

  3. Looks way D&D. I never though Dungeons and Dragons would be cool.

  4. The only problem I’ve heard it that it is sort of buggy? Did you encounter that?

  5. Someone said theres werewovles in the game. True? Can you be one?

  6. What did you guys think of the sex scenes?

  7. “A” factored into Desert’s ungoldly man-love for RPG’s=C+

  8. I bought this after reading all the great reviews. I’m almost falling asleep at all the conversations.

    THIS IS NOT A “A” GAME.

  9. Who did the voice acting, a lot of people, or do they do it like Oblivision where it’s 6 people for all the roles?

  10. If you’re playing this, it’s time to get married and leave your mom’s basement.

  11. It’s the only sex people who play this game will have. Its got to be good.

  12. PC version is way better. Adjustable camera angle and a toolset!

  13. I usually don’t like RPG’s, but I’m loving this game.

  14. I’m really exited about the game after reading the review. I didn’t expect it to be that good.

  15. It’s a bioware game. They make the best Western RPGs, I wouldn’t expect anything they do to be bad.

  16. Bye guys! I’ve been given a permaban for trolling.

  17. Minister of Murder

    Hey everybody, many of the stores will have this on sale for $40 on Black Friday. It’s a great game I have it, but wait until then if yo want to save a few bucks.

  18. GOTY. There, I said it.

  19. Its cool, but the game’s got more bugs that a summer picnic.

  20. I don’t understand all the haters. If people don’t like a game style, why do you have to trash it? Say something positive about a game you do like!

  21. Sounds like the perfect game for social outcasts. Anyone who reviews the game and gives it an “A” falls into that catagory too.

  22. this is not going to end well.

  23. Bloodmonk slices Meathead for a critical hit. Meathead is out of HP and dies.

    “Feed his corpse to the rats!”

  24. Wow, great score, and excellent review. Bad comments, though.

  25. The more this site grows, the worse dumber the comments get. You guys need a mod?

  26. Bought the game this weekend, and I love it. Really deep and amazing.

  27. Never seen so hate on a game here. Must be people that really need attention.

  28. I need to get this game.

  29. What kind of dlc is planned for this? I could see the game making a lot of money that way.

  30. Good review. I’m glad to hear the game is fun.

  31. Yep, although I think many people are afraid to give the game anything less than a A.

  32. I’m enjoying the game along with my friends. So much for that theory!

  33. I just want to know who is the first person to get all 1,000 achievement points.

  34. I guess EA need some hits after so many of their employees have been laid off.

  35. Ive heard the PS3 version has better graphics and better load times, true?

  36. Just give us baldurs 3, and make us happy, OK Bioware?

  37. I gonna say the graphics are disappointing at times. Even during cinemas things can get real framey.

  38. If this is as good as RPG writing gets, I’m unimpressed!

  39. I ‘only’ played for about 15 hours and totally agree with the review. The game is amazing, and one of the best time’s ive had in front of my television this year.

  40. Man, the enemies look great. Whoever did the game’s art should be given some kind of award!

    My only problem is combat seems too complex at times. Especially when fighting a boss.

  41. I’m gonna rent this, and see if I like it. rpgs aren’t my thing, but I like a good story and was a fan of LoTR.

  42. Why the hell was the camera function taken out of the console versions? We get a gimped version? This sucks.

  43. So is the setting high or low fantasy?

  44. Sounds fun. I’ll wait for the $40 sale. Two weeks cant kill me right?

    RIGHT?

  45. I’m glad a real RPG fan reviewed the game. Some of the reviewer (Gametrailers) seem written by people who don’t even like the games.

    Good job, Deagle!

  46. Next on my to-buy list.

  47. This game totally sounds awesome.

  48. Great review. I need this and Mass Effect 2!

  49. Im seeing a lot of people pissing on the game’s graphics. What do you think of that?

  50. Time to get down and get nerdy tonight. Just bought this at lunch.

  51. This review didn’t go into that much depth. I was ok overall, but didn’t tell me that much about the combat system.

  52. This is one more game I’ll be waiting until Christmas break to play.

    Now, what stores are going to have the game for $40? I need details!

  53. I keep hearing the PS3 version is the one to get, but knowing that the PC was the lead platform, I cant figure this one out.

  54. My paycheck cant come quick enough!

    I heard this comes with DLC can you describe it?

  55. Watch more pr0n.

  56. Glad to hear the game turned out so well. I’ll pick it up soon.

  57. Seems more like a “B” in my book, for the bugs and graphics…

  58. Who are women in rpgs either old hags or super sexy?

  59. Guys are usually musclebound or ugly. Whats your point?

  60. Great review! Cant wait till this goes on sale.

  61. Sounds like I’m gonna love this game.

  62. I don’t get non action games like rpg and rts. They seem so boring to me.

  63. Good review. I almost ordered the game from Amazon, but I’ve been waiting for the reviews to come in.

  64. Man, this sounds good!

  65. Does anyone have a favorite Origin? I like the low class Elf and Dwarf

  66. No one posted the info about where this on going on sale yet? C’mon give up the info!

  67. Man, waiting two weeks might me a killer!

  68. I just bought the PC version today. $39.99! YES!

  69. Does anyone think that this game will overshadow Mass Effect 2?

    I mean now the size of ME2 has to massive!

  70. Oh, man this game sounds fun. I hear it’s about 100 hours of gameplay.

  71. Sounds like a must-buy for me.

  72. You you guys know what kind of DLC in planned for the game? Seems like they could do alot with Dragon Age.

  73. I’ve only played the Dwarf origin and really liked the story.

  74. Still waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  75. Trying to justify not buying this one.

  76. There’s too many damn games coming out! Since I love Bioware, I gotta play this sooner or later.

  77. I liked biowares previous games, so i think i might rent this.

  78. It looks alright.

  79. This is easily one of the best RPGs of all time. Asides from combat being very satisfying, the dialogue is amazing. I’m laughing half the time. I’m still playing it now and will probably go through a second and third time. Those origin stories are hotness.

  80. Don’t think I’ll be a fan of this as I am with Mass Effect. I mean sure, dialogue is very similar (good, neutral, and bad choices), but I don’t think I will have as much fun with the gameplay. Besides, Mass Effect 2 is coming out in January and there’s plenty of other games I can get right now.

  81. Yea, kind of agreeing with other posters. Don’t think I have the time to put into this game right now with all of the other big release titles.

  82. I loved Mass Effect, I will most likely like this.

  83. From what I’ve heard… the console versions are very very bad compared to the PC version.. since this type of game basically relies heavily on the mouse and keyboard inputs… but I’ll have to rent it and check out of the controls are as bad as some people say it is.

  84. Looking forward to this old school/Baldur’s Gate type game. Ordered for xbox on Thanksgiving. I hope this version is not buggy.

  85. This is my best game Dragon Age: Origins. Eclipse game engine has given an extremely powerful graphics to Dragon Age: Origins. The best single player game. The first episode pack for Dragon Age: Origins, Return to Ostagar allows players to exact their revenge. The game incorporates “origins” for each race and some classes. For videos you may visit at:
    http://www.techarena.in/video/25779-dragon-age-origins-return-ostagar-pc-game-video-trailer.htm

  86. Adding some spice to your next social function with a multiple couple sex game is the perfect way to ensure a wild evening.

  87. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  88. Great games I love the genre, please keep more coming.

  89. Great post keep up the good work ;)

  90. Agree with the above, defiantly not an A+ game. But I do like the mouse control using an Apple mouse, on windows I’m all over the place.

  91. Full of excitement and complexity.
    Looking a great combination of graphics and intelligence.

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