Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Review
I mean really, how am I supposed to go about reviewing an expansion pack. Heck, or even to a smaller degree a DLC. I mean really. Here's the problem as I see it. An expansion pack is exactly that, an expansion to an already existing game. So on the one hand you kind of already know what to expect. Yet on the other hand, well you already know what to expect. Do you really expect me to come out with a review that says "If you hated Dragon Age: Origin, don't worry, you're going to love Dragon Age: Origin – Awakening!" Or the opposite? No, you know what you're getting going into to this and, seriously, you're already going to basically know if you're going to like it or not. Well I suppose that might not be totally true as there are factors that could sway you one way or another and I guess that's where I come in to the picture. So, after talking myself out of the idea that reviewing an expansion pack is a waste of everyone's time it's time to get down to business and see what Dragon Age: Origin – Awakenings is all about.
Technically Awakenings is an expansion pack to Origins but you actually don't have to have Origins to play Awakenings, although it would be a bit odd not to, but there you have it. Awakenings starts a few months after the ending of Origins, and I'm going to do my best here not to spoil any major plot events of either game. You have the option to bring over your Origins character or start with a fresh one. A major bummer about bringing over your existing character is that you will not actually be able to bring all of the great weapons or items you might have gathered during your initial story, nor can you bring over any DLC items you may have purchased. I went with a new character to see what that was all about.
The story is that you are now in charge of your own little area called Amaranthine, which was the home to a family that you had dealing with in the Origins story. Amaranthine isn't quite as fascinating as Ferelden, but that's not a big shock as Ferelden was the capital after all. Being in charge means that you have to deal with a bunch of different decisions that affect your kingdom. You'll need to decide things like whether to protect farmers or your trade routes. There are many of these decisions you'll need to make as the story progresses. The major focus of the story picks right up from Origins with a few twists here and there. I believe it's safe to say that at the end of Origins you more-or-less took care of the business with the Blight and the darkspawn. Naturally, and unsurprisingly, they are not completely gone. Matter of fact not only are the darkspawn still around they seemed to have evolved as they now have the ability to speak. Yeah, so now you not only have to deal with evil, it will now talk some smack.
There are five new characters in Awakenings that will form your group. There will even be a couple of people from the original story that will make an appearance, kind of like a cameo in the movies. These new characters are not as interesting as the original cast and this is part of the problem with Awakenings. Where one of the major strengths of Origins was the story and getting some sort of emotional attachment to your party, Awakenings has a decent story and it's pretty hard to care too much about these new characters. Some of that is probably due to the length of the game. Origins clocked in anywhere between 60-80 hours, while Awakenings struggles to hit the 20 hour mark. Granted 20 hours is still nothing to sneeze at, but when you're forking over $40 I expect something in the 30-40 hour department.
OK, fine, so my therapist keeps telling me size isn't everything. But the story, while interesting, just isn't the same quality as Origins. It's almost like this was created by the BioWare "B" team while the "A" team was still on vacation. Granted their "B" team still has game, but it just isn't quite the same. You do get some new power-ups for your weapons but nothing game changing.
You know, I've never liked a reviewer that took what I would consider the easy way out and say something like "If you like RPGs then you'll like this RPG because it's an RPG and you like those." That said, if you liked Origins you will like Awakenings. However, I don't think the asking price of $40, which isn't that much less than Origins itself, can completely justify itself. While it is a good time, it's a little short and not quite up to the standards set by its parent. If it gets to be in the $20 range it's a must buy and the low $30s will at least give you something to think about.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 80%. Awakenings is a competent expansion to Origins, but the price of admission is just a little too high given its length and the high quality set by Origins that it can't quite reach.