Nov 25 2009
By: PapaWarlock PlayStation MVP 11258 posts

Dragon Age: Origins

0 replies 36 views Edited Nov 25, 2009

Game Title: Dragon Age: Origins

Genre: Action RPG
Platform: PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 3, 2009
Overall Score:   
Review Author:  PapaWarlock


As many of you know I've been anxiously waiting for Dragon Age: Origins to be released. Well it was finally released 11/03/09 and I picked it up the day it came out. Now after nearly 30 hours of play time in, I'm ready to write up my review on this epic title. Please remember that this review is based off of my personal experience and my personal values. 


Graphics:9/10. This is perhaps the one area that is very subjective. I have seen more then a few posters claim that these graphics are 'dated' or 'crappy' but I have to disagree. Whether it's the cutscene sequence, combat or simple NPC interaction, the graphics have been crisp and detailed. Granted, this is not your brightly colored, cell shaded JRPG, but nevertheless, it has its own beauty.

Gameplay: 9/10. I found Dragon Age's control scheme very easy to get into. Whether it was setting active abilities to 1 of 6 different 'hot keys', interacting with NPCs, or maneuvering around the various inventory/game screens, nothing was overly complicated. It is active combat, but there is a 'pause'n play' option. It is also done in 3rd person view (not first person). One cool thing about combat is the ability to combine your spells/abilities to give you an edge over your opponent. One example is using 'Cone of Cold' to freeze your opponent and follow it up with 'Stonefist' (I knew I should've written down the spell name). This allows you to often 'shatter' your foe, instantly killing it. 


Combat could at times get a bit hectic as you try to keep an eye on 4 characters and their health/mana. Thankfully you could easily 'pause' the gameplay at any time by holding the L2 button. This pulled up a 'wheel' of menu options where you could use abilities or potions and by using either the L1 or R1 button you could tab to each party member and issue spur of the moment decisions. Setting up tactics was the only really complicated part of the game, but you can easily use the preset tactics such as Defender or Scrapper. You're not limited solely to playing your created character but can set him/her up on auto as well and swap out control to another party member to test out different gameplay.


Obtaining money and crafting items were the only real complaints I have about the gameplay. Since I chose to play my game on hard, it could simply be a side effect of the difficulty level. The game has 4 difficulty levels to start with: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Extreme (might not be the actual label). The difference between the 4 is noticeable. In Easy and Normal there is no damage taken from Friendly Fire (i.e.. dropping a fireball in the middle of the group means that only the bad guys take damage). In Hard mode Friendly Fire is 50% (i.e.. that Fireball will do half damage {minus variables} to the party and full damage to the bad guys.) In the hardest mode Friendly Fire is 100% (i.e.. not really a good idea to drop that Fireball in the middle of your party, especially if your low on health.) I can attest that the hard mode is very challenging and I don't think I'm Mage enough to hit up the Extreme mode. I would strongly advise anyone playing on Hard or Extreme to constantly save your progress on at least 2 save files.


As with most Western developed RPGs, upon leveling up you are able to choose which stats to increase (usually having 3 points to spend) and which ability/spell as well. Every few levels you can also choose a new 'secondary skill' (That's what I call herbalism, poison making, combat tactics etc). This allows you to develop your character and party in the manner you feel best suits your play style. You can also allow the game to automatically level up the skills and choose spells/abilities if you don't want the hassle. 


The only other real drawback (in my opinion) was only having 3 races & 3 classes to choose from. However, that is remedied as the game goes on. As you meet new NPCs, recruit party members and level up, you gain access to specialization classes such as Blood Mage, Duelist and Shapeshifter. Between specialization classes and choosing your spells & abilities as you level up, make the lack of multiple classes pretty minor.


Story: 10/10. This is where Dragon Age: Origins truly shines. From start to finish, and from character 'Origin' to character 'Origin', Dragon Age is very well written and very deep. Everything from love & hate, to friendship, loyalty & betrayal, the full range of human emotion is displayed. Very early on there is a major plot-twist that I didn't see coming. But every part of the main story flows well during your quest to unite the various factions of the world you live in to create an army to beat back the "Blight". As is often true in life, there are those who do not believe that trouble is truly coming. Dragon Age Origins sets a new standard in Western Storytelling, and in my opinion, it's on par with the best the East has to offer.


Replay: 10/10. This game has a very high replay value. Unlike most games you play, the race & class you chose to play directly affects the reactions of the NPCs around you. Elves are usually looked upon as 'sub-human' and Mages are kept on tight leashes. Your indoctrination into the Grey Wardens is intense and how you are recruited is also dependent on your Origin story.  I chose to be an Elven Mage and I can't wait to experience this as a Dwarven Warrior or maybe even as a Rogue/Archer.


DLC: No point trying to give a score for this yet. Outside of the free DLC you had access to (depending on whether/where you pre-ordered the game at or what version of the game you bought) there are 2 DLC packs. The first adds a new character to recruit (along with 'new' quests and areas) and the other adds a new Area called 'The Warden's Keep'. The character DLC I downloaded but have yet to pick up 'The Warden's Keep'. I will likely pick it up soon and I'll add that into the review at that time. Bioware has claimed that there will be other expansions/DLC in the future. Hopefully it will add more to the game than simply new armor/skins.


Final Thoughts: Overall I've been very impressed with my experience with Dragon Age Origins. Despite getting frustrated from time to time as I wipe to a hard boss, this game is everything I hoped for, and more. It is a very challenging game, epic storytelling, and a great overall experience. 


Please Note: The views expressed in this message are the views of the review author, who is in no way affiliated with SCEA or PlayStation.com. 

Message Edited by jasquarefan on 11-25-2009 05:22 PM
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