Dragon Age: Origins
Platform: Playstation 3
Release Date: November 2, 2009
I’ve never played too many American developed RPG’s before, I’m much more of a Japanese RPG fan, but I needed a game to fill the time before Final Fantasy XIII came out, so I decided to pick up Dragon Age: Origins for my PS3. Am I happy with my purchase? Well, more or less. The game has some flaws to it, but there are also good points as well, and there’s plenty to do in the game, so I feel like at least I got my money’s worth.
Dragon Age takes place in a pretty standard fantasy realm. There are dwarves and elves and magic and as the title says, dragons. You take the role of a Gray Warden, one of the last of a group of people who defend the land from the demonic swarms of the dark spawn. After a political coup disrupts the land, you must travel around and unite an army in order to find the oncoming menace. That’s more or less the basic plot for the game, and if you’ve ever wanted a video game based on George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice this is pretty close to it. The story is certainly one of the high points of the game. It’s very strong and there are a lot of interesting characters that you will want to follow. There are almost too many interesting characters, because I found myself wanting to see how every one of the playable characters reacted to the events of the story, but you can only see the reactions of three of the characters at a time.
This is a Bioware game; so predictably, the dialog and story is another strong suit. The voice acting is decent, and the writing is fun, and it tells the story very well. I always knew who was who and what I was supposed to be doing. It’s a story that is worth playing through multiple times, which is good because one of the big points of the game is to play through the six different character types, or origins in the game. Each origin is significantly different, but eventually they all get you to the same main plot. It’s an interesting way to encourage multiple play-throughs.
Combat is decent enough on the PS3 version, but I wouldn’t call it spectacular. It gets the job done, is what I’m trying to say. You control one character at a time while the computer controls the other three using certain tactics that you can control, such as having your healer restore any character with less than 50% of their hit points, or controlling who your fighter will take out first. It works well enough, although it’s not necessarily my favorite combat system. I tend to like more direct control of all my party members. That said, it didn’t get in the way of my enjoying the game, so I can’t complain too much about it. It’s a preference thing to me, and you may enjoy this style of combat more than I do.
Where the game really falls is in the presentation. This is a really ugly game, and there’s just no way around that. Outside of the main characters, there are maybe a dozen models for the rest of the characters, and they just get slightly different coloring to differentiate between them. When you see your second or third identical older female character, you kind of just have to shake your head and laugh. More than anything, it’s just a very bland game, without any of the technical flair that you would expect from a next generation game. Nothing about the graphics stands out, unless you count how bad they look. It’s really a shame because this game has a lot going for it, but the butt ugly graphics really detract from my overall enjoyment of the game.
Is this game a buy? Well, it depends. If you have an XBox 360, then your best bet is to skip this and pick up Mass Effect 2. If you’re limited to a PS3 the big problem is that there aren’t a ton of RPG’s, so your choices are fairly limited. I would recommend a rent on it, just to see if the graphics don’t make a difference to you, or if they really turn you off. As a total package, I’m giving this a 3 out of 5, for having a really good story, but lacking a bit in graphics. At least I know there are more roleplaying games coming soon for me to enjoy.