You can have up to four members in your party. But you’ll have the option to recruit many more and will enjoy filling out your party each time you’re ready to dive into a new area. The dialogue and voice acting for the caste of your ever expanding crew is topnotch. Their battle cries and witty banter also helps keep the game moving along at a fast pace whether you’re in the midst of combat or exploring a dungeon.
Above: You’ll want to visit your camp to talk with you comrades often. This is where your party members really open up
Each character reacts differently to the decisions you make. For example Allistair and Leliana tend to like it when you stop to smell the “good guy” quests and help NPCs in need. Supplement noble deeds with gift items and time spent getting to know them in your camp, and their affection for you will grow. Get them to like you more, and they’ll start receiving bonuses to their stats as their loyalty increases. Get them to like you a lot, and they’ll reveal more about themselves and even teach you some new skills if your character’s class can learn them. Continue to earn their admiration and trust, and you’ll eventually have the option to get intimate.
Above: Morrigan is a mage shapeshifter (left). Leliana is a rogue bard (right). You’re probably going to have sex with one of them
Sex in Dragon Age is just as clumsy and silly as it usually is in RPGs. Despite its “M” rating, Dragon Age is set in a world where warriors make love in their underwear and quickly suit up in their plate armor once the deed is done. It’s really a rather insignificant part of the game. But you know you’re going to do it, so we figured we’d at least mention it.
Above: Interacting with your war hound at camp also helps you separate the dog people and cat people in your party
There’s still the part in the review where we have to list the things you won’t like. Some battles feel way too difficult, even on easy. The way encounters demand your constant attention keeps combat engaging, but sometimes it’s too easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated when you keep dying on the same boss.
Above: Maybe we just suck, but we had a nightmare about this boss and its many nipples after she strangled our party a dozen times
Console owners also won’t get to experience the true elegance of Dragon Age’s combat system. Clicking on targets, activating skills with your number keys, and pausing the action with the space bar, just feels more fluid with a mouse and keyboard. The console versions make the most of a competent radial menu to deal with all the options at your disposal, but it’s just not the same.
360 and PS3 owners also won’t have as much freedom when it comes to zooming the camera in and out. The PC version lets you use your scroll wheel so you can zoom far out and get a nice Baldur’s Gate-like view of the battlefield. Unfortunately, the console versions keep the camera locked relatively close to your selected character. That’s a shame because playing with the camera to view the action from all angles and distances in the PC version is great fun.
Above: You won’t have as much camera freedom on the console versions. In the PC version you can zoom all the way out till it looks like an RTS
Above: The radial menu in the console versions feels clunky at first. But once you get used to it combat works fine
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic? Yes. We love ourselves some Star Wars. But Dragon Age: Origins is the better RPG. There’s more story, more action, more character development, and a much larger world.
Mass Effect? Yes. Mass Effect may have seemed huge when it released. But as with KOTOR, a journey that spans the galaxy is still a drop in the bucket when compared to Dragon Age’s truly grand adventure. And while Dragon Age reuses some graphical content to populate its gigantic world, you won’t encounter as many déjà vu moments as you did when exploring the same space cave for the eighth time in Mass Effect.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? Yes and no. If you haven’t played either, it’d be a tossup between the two due to how polished and grand both games are. But Dragon Age: Origins just isn’t going to rock your RPG world as hard as Oblivion did when it released in 2006.
Dragon Age: Origins is high fantasy role-playing at its finest. Its detailed world, memorable characters, meaningful choices, and engrossing combat system makes Dragon Age the sort of game you’ll want to replay from start to finish several times. RPG fans won’t be disappointed by this truly epic adventure.
Nov 3, 2009