Dragon Age: Origins Review
If you're the kind of gamer who frantically pounds buttons to end cutscenes as quickly as possible, finds long conversations with computer-controlled characters boring, and pays as little attention as possible to the stories in games, then Dragon Age: Origins is not for you. Ferelden, the world that developer BioWare has crafted for this RPG is epic in scope. Ferelden has been brought to life on a scale rarely seen in video games, especially those not based on some other work of fiction or entertainment. Religion, politics, history, literature, and entire cultures within Ferelden have been brought to life in the game, and with an impressive amount of detail. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you spend more of your time with the game reading than doing anything else. There are books, scrolls, and letters to be found everywhere, and encounters with people, places, and things in the game will often result in new entries within your codex, where you can go to “read more about it.” Conversations with characters in the game abound and are truly conversations in that you control your character's responses, albeit selecting those responses from the list provided. Your responses will affect how characters in the game world perceive you, and can open up or close off new quests, or make your current one easier or more difficult. The conversations are very well-crafted in that more often than not there are no obvious 'good' or 'evil' choices, and many times your choices will please half of your own party while angering the other. You have to try to read the personality of the character with whom you're conversing, determine what they're initial perceptions of your character may be, and keep in mind how your own party may react to the way that you handle things. All of this works together to create one of the most engrossing stories and worlds you'll find in a game, and If that all sounds fantastic to you then you'll probably love Dragon Age: Origins. And as is often the case with love, you'll look past the game's flaws and shortcomings because you'll enjoy spending time with it.
There's no way I can do the game's story justice in the short space of a game review, so a high level synopsis will have to suffice. Every few centuries or so Ferelden is invaded by the Dark Spawn, an army of demonic undead with a demon lord as its leader. The Dark Spawn's hordes and the blight that they bring with them could easily overpower Ferelden if it were not for the Grey Wardens. The Grey Wardens are an order of knights specially attuned to the Dark Spawn and adept at defeating it. As the game opens the Dark Spawn have returned at a time when the Grey Wardens' numbers are critically low. You play a new recruit to the order, but your time as an initiate is short. A treacherous act in the heat of battle has left Ferelden's army in tatters and the Grey Warden's shouldering the blame. You're left to take on the monumental task of turning back the Dark Spawn while trying to reunite the fractured armies of Ferelden … and there's that little matter of a traitor in the kingdom…
Because of all of the possible outcomes of your actions and conversations, Dragon Age: Origins is a game that will provide a different experience to everyone who plays it. That experience diverges right from the beginning, as your choice of character class and race will start you off in one of six unique opening storylines. The origin stories are quite different from one another, and even if you have no intention of playing through the entire game six times it is worth trying out six different characters to see what each of the origin stories has to offer.