It's About Time :: Dragon Age: Origins

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

It's About Time! reviews by a Stranger of Sorts...

image

_

Dragon Age: Origins

Hey, what a surprise I actually got round to writing another one of these! Well, to be honest I haven't actually written it yet, all that's on my screen is the title, the box art and these words... pretty though isn't it?

For the hard of thinking amongst you, the point of this review series is to review slightly older games for two principle reasons: firstly I have had time to play the game, as in a lot of time so I will have found all the flaws and hidden goodies that would otherwise go unnoticed and secondly, it's just an excuse for me to review older games as I don't own any new ones.

Dragon Age: Origins is a third-person role-playing game developed by Bioware that takes heavy influences from online RPG's such as World of Warcraft. What this game does bring to the table is its heavy emphasis on both the story and the effects of the choices your character makes on the story. The sub-title itself highlights the biggest choice you're going to make in the game and that is what starting origin your character will come from; whether that be a City Elf or a Mage serving out their life in solitude in the Circle Tower. Whatever origin you pick will have a huge effect on how others treat you throughout the game, for example an Elf will be looked down upon by the majority of humans and it will be harder for them to gain information as a result.

Sounds pretty good doesn't it?...

_
_

I went into Dragon Age: Origins on the promise of an epic story, engaging combat and the hope that it would take hours out of my miserable and vacant life. And I am afraid to inform you that I left feeling sickened and just the slightest bit confused, what I had purchased was not epic, nor engaging and it didn't waste the best years of my life nearly as much as I hoped it would.

It is funny (to me) that as a game sold on its story telling, Dragon Age: Origins fails on the one thing that, if anything, should have been the best feature in this game. The only twist in it comes at the beginning of the game, in fact it comes so near to the beginning that I can tell you what happens; your mentor and leader Duncan, the character that saves your skin in all the origin stories gets killed in the battle of Helm's Deep Ostagar by Orcs Darkspawn, along with the rest of your order apart from the shy, boyish Alistair. After this rather joyful and entertaining moment you are told that it is up to you and Alistair to gather the armies of Ferelden and lead them in battle again Sauron the Archdemon. As you can probably tell, Dragon Age: Origins does not exactly redefine, or even attempt to redefine, the RPG genre.

This game also manages to fall flat on its face when it comes to combat, when you see an enemy you want to kill you press a button and your character goes zooming off and proceeds to hit the creature you pressed your button at until the creature has liquefied into a crudely animated pool of blood on the floor. Granted, if you choose you can use an ability and to do this you press another button, your character performs said ability and then carries on hitting the creature. This is by no means engaging at all and it seems to go against the whole point of a game, it gives you the feeling that it is not you attacking the enemy, you are just watching someone attack an enemy. The people at Bioware have obviously said to themselves "Hey, look at World of Warcraft, that seems to be doing pretty well but what makes it good? Is it it's gameplay? Or is it the fact that your character is in a world with lots of other player characters and the interaction and competition forces the player to come back every spare minute just to try and be the best? Must be the first one." No! Bad Bioware!

And the length of the game? I did mention that, well at least I hope so, this game is pathetically short as far as most other RPGs are; while Oblivion had me playing for over 100 hours without even touching the story quests, I had completed Dragon Age: Origins within 20 hours.

image

But I have to admit that after I finished I started a new game and did it all again, then I completed it, then I started again and so on. This game just has so many possibilities, every time you play you will have a different experience. You will play differently, you will be a different race, a different class, you will have different party members, you may bully your way through every situation or talk your way through it or you will choose different dialogue options. The possibilities are very close to becoming endless.

The whole dialogue system is very interesting, in theory every option you take will change the characters feeling towards you and whether or not they will help you. I say in theory as if you play the same section more than once you realise that some of the options receive the same answer and it feels a bit like they've cheated.

One thing Dragon Age: Origins does very well is creating a world that you can become completely and utterly absorbed in, there is a back story to almost every element of the game even when there doesn't need to be one. For example the Legions of the Dead are a group of dwarves who go deep into the earth to fight the darkspawn, knowing that they will someday die. You meet this group once but there are pages and pages of lore about them that is really unnecessary but it helps give the game depth.

Overall I can tell you that yes, this is a good game that does deserve some credit but it could have been so much better! The inclusion of things like proper gameplay and a lot more side missions would ascend this game into greatness.

- Thanks for your time, when I ask for feedback this time I want it to be as harsh and nit picky as possible, cheers!

I had a very long reply with quite a few points you could improve on and parts where I thought you were wrong. Then I closed the tab by mistake.
Fuck.

Ok, let me try again, maybe not as long as the original.

Your writing seemed very good to me.
You didn't tell me what the story was about to a good enough degree.
You didn't explain why the story was bad.
You didn't describe the combat enough.
You said it was a good game but for most of the review you were pointing out bad things, odd conclusion.

You've got over a thousand words, The Escapist's Review of Dragon Age ran to over 1,500 words and didn't have a forward like yours, it was also more to the point. Just to give some context, you can review a game in a few words it just isn't likely to be a good review.

Nit Picks: "Legion of the Dead" not "Legions".

You're outright wrong: The battle of Ostagar is nothing like the siege of Helm's Deep. In one victory is a certainty and in the other defeat is inevitable (or so it seems). Both have the opposite occur but for different reasons, HD was a matter of support from a zombie wizard and Ostagar was a betrayal.
They are very different, as are Orc's and Darkspawn, I should not have to explain why. But if you want me to go on I will. (Through PM so as not to distract from your review)

A very nice review but I think it needs a lot of work.

Knight Templar:
snipped for conservation of space

Thanks for that, story wise I didn't go in too much detail as I try to keep these things (sort of) spoiler free. Looking back, I do see what you mean about the combat section and I completely forgot to mention about the tactics while playing; I also forgot to talk about class customisation, oh well.

Again thanks for the feedback, you can be sure it will be used on my next review.

I'm new here, so I don't want to create the impression that I'm the new guy ripping on everyone or that I'm the new guy in the office trying to suck off the boss while simultaneously doing his/her paperwork to avoid getting fired. But I'll be honest-

Writing isn't an issue here, and by that I mean grammar and spelling, though after pouring over the R&R I don't think I should mention this. ;)

The images were a nice touch and made it easier to continue reading, as opposed to seeing a giant text brick wall. Good on you for that.

I enjoyed the humor, but that's a easy win for me. I quite like humor in anything and so you've pretty much got me there, however:

I see why you didn't go into the story too much, and I agree, but there were still things you could've written, that would've been revealing, but not so much that spoil-phobes try and draw and quarter you. I'll admit, at the moment, I'm struck dumb for an example to give you, but I'm sure you see what I mean.

All in all a good job. I liked it. ^_^

Brandon Lum:
le snip

Thanks, you shouldn't worry so much about how people view you. Though when I first started I managed to give everyone the impression that I was a complete twat; but it's nice to see new people visiting the User Reviews section, most of you stay in Off Topic.

You should have stated where you came from first thing.

I knew I wasted my time reading this when I read this line:

"This is by no means engaging at all and it seems to go against the whole point of a game, it gives you the feeling that it is not you attacking the enemy, you are just watching someone attack an enemy."

That's no different from the BG series, fallout, ultima7 and the majority of great RPGs. It is you who doesn't get the point of the game, which is most definitely NOT twitch based action.

veloper:
You should have stated where you came from first thing.

I knew I wasted my time reading this when I read this line:

"This is by no means engaging at all and it seems to go against the whole point of a game, it gives you the feeling that it is not you attacking the enemy, you are just watching someone attack an enemy."

That's no different from the BG series, fallout, ultima7 and the majority of great RPGs. It is you who doesn't get the point of the game, which is most definitely NOT twitch based action.

I will again compare it to Oblivion, in that game there was an element of skill to combat. In the actual review I compared the combat to World of Warcraft, the most popular RPG out there (well most heard of if that isn't the case) and I say how arbitrary the combat is in that as well. But yes, maybe I "don't get it", but this is a review and therefore I am stating my opinions about the game, not everyone else's.

Woah and wait a minute you said that the combat is the same as in Fallout? The third one was the definition of twitch based action.

Glad to have wasted your time...

Stranger of Sorts:

veloper:
You should have stated where you came from first thing.

I knew I wasted my time reading this when I read this line:

"This is by no means engaging at all and it seems to go against the whole point of a game, it gives you the feeling that it is not you attacking the enemy, you are just watching someone attack an enemy."

That's no different from the BG series, fallout, ultima7 and the majority of great RPGs. It is you who doesn't get the point of the game, which is most definitely NOT twitch based action.

I will again compare it to Oblivion, in that game there was an element of skill to combat. In the actual review I compared the combat to World of Warcraft, the most popular RPG out there (well most heard of if that isn't the case) and I say how arbitrary the combat is in that as well. But yes, maybe I "don't get it", but this is a review and therefore I am stating my opinions about the game, not everyone else's.

Woah and wait a minute you said that the combat is the same as in Fallout? The third one was the definition of twitch based action.

Glad to have wasted your time...

The original 2 fallouts obviously. Figures you opnly know #3.

So yeah, you should've said right at the top that Oblivion is what you look for in a RPG.

veloper:

The original 2 fallouts obviously. Figures you opnly know #3.

So yeah, you should've said right at the top that Oblivion is what you look for in a RPG.

Okay lets summarise this with the sentence, "I don't like this type of combat!" and "I want a game that I will play for hundreds of hours without getting bored (that's Oblivion by the way)!"

...Or is that not allowed?

Stranger of Sorts:

veloper:

The original 2 fallouts obviously. Figures you opnly know #3.

So yeah, you should've said right at the top that Oblivion is what you look for in a RPG.

Okay lets summarise this with the sentence, "I don't like this type of combat!" and "I want a game that I will play for hundreds of hours without getting bored (that's Oblivion by the way)!"

...Or is that not allowed?

That would be just perfect, if only you fly your colors before you begin, so the reader doesn't have to find out halfway through.

veloper:

That would be just perfect, if only you fly your colors before you begin, so the reader doesn't have to find out halfway through.

That would be a bad idea, why would I start with a conclusion? It would completely negate the rest of the review for everyone.

Stranger of Sorts:

veloper:

That would be just perfect, if only you fly your colors before you begin, so the reader doesn't have to find out halfway through.

That would be a bad idea, why would I start with a conclusion? It would completely negate the rest of the review for everyone.

Starting with the conclusion is not bad by all means, but in this case you'd be doing something more important than that: you tell the reader where you come from.

It's like you don't want to read a review on MW2 either, only to discover the reviewer hates FPS gameplay halfway through.
In this case: real-time infinity-esque tactics isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it is also the core of the gameplay, so the reader deserves to know where you stand before.

An otherwise good review even thought it ripped off one of my favourite games. And I disagree with many many many of your points.

The writing is solid though.

Simple question though: what difficulty did you play it on?

Aloran:

Simple question though: what difficulty did you play it on?

That would be medium

veloper:

Starting with the conclusion is not bad by all means, but in this case you'd be doing something more important than that: you tell the reader where you come from.

It's like you don't want to read a review on MW2 either, only to discover the reviewer hates FPS gameplay halfway through.
In this case: real-time infinity-esque tactics isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it is also the core of the gameplay, so the reader deserves to know where you stand before.

I guess that makes sense, I'll take it into account if I do something similar again.

Stranger of Sorts:

That would be medium

Ah. May I suggest that you try and play it on hard/nightmare. If you found the combat far too lack luster then those will certainly test you.

I do appreciate that you obviously prefer the oblivion/fallout 3 style of RPG, however you can't appreciate the combat in Dragon Age unless you forget about them.

There's far more micromanagement necessary than in other RPG's.

It was a good read, but felt a little empty, you did only brush up on the points of the game, a lot of the beginning of the review felt like humorous waffle, the last few paragraphs decribing the dialogue system, replay value and back story were shor sweet and spot on.

I must contest the length of the main story, it really varies on the user and playstyle. I done it in 30 hours first time, under 20 my second, my current "best scenario" file is on 40 or so and my girlfriend who just got to the Landsmeet is on about 50 hours.

Regardless, still a good review, I wouldn't have got the the end otherwise, let alone post, going to go read some of ytour others now...

Aloran:

Ah. May I suggest that you try and play it on hard/nightmare. If you found the combat far too lack luster then those will certainly test you.

Actually, I may just do that.

sms_117b:
It was a good read, but felt a little empty, you did only brush up on the points of the game, a lot of the beginning of the review felt like humorous waffle, the last few paragraphs decribing the dialogue system, replay value and back story were shor sweet and spot on.

You know I'm glad you said that, the It's About Time series has been me trying to change my writing style a bit but toward the end of this review I slipped into my usual.

I'm very confused. You say you don't like the story, but then say you became completely absorbed in it. Then you bring up Oblivion, which has the most awful story in an RPG I can think of. You say the game is not engaging, and then you say there's a plethora of choices and possibilities throughout the game. You also say you completed it in 20 hours, which basically means that you barreled through it and couldn't have completed even half of all the sidequests, and then you criticize the game for having too few sidequests. Very confused.

atol:
I'm very confused. You say you don't like the story, but then say you became completely absorbed in it. Then you bring up Oblivion, which has the most awful story in an RPG I can think of. You say the game is not engaging, and then you say there's so many choices and possibilities throughout the game. You also say you completed it in 20 hours, which basically means that you barreled through it and couldn't have completed even half of all the sidequests, and then you criticize the game for having too few sidequests. Very confused.

Wow I think I was confused by that. I bought up Oblivion with reference to gameplay and it was the gameplay that bore the adjective 'engaging'. The main story for Dragon Age: Origins was very weak but the 'lore' was very strong (i.e the background story for all the different elements of the game)

I have completed all the side quests and they are all very short, or at least would be if it weren't for the loading times (why didn't I bring up loading times in the review? Damn I forgot) The only one I remember distinctly is the one where you are paid to have a fight in a brothel.

Does that help?

Well, you said "...not epic, nor engaging," at the top, which I then assumed was a general statement about the game and not specifically the combat. I gathered that you simply enjoyed Oblivion, and not specifically its visceral combat. It wasn't a logic flaw in the review, but just in your personality that I felt. You could have probably mentioned that the storyline is disjointed throughout most of the game, since setting/lore is indeed part of a story.
I still believe it's impossible to go through the game in 20 hours and finish all the side quests, you most likely finsihed them in your subsequent playthroughs. Doing everything in the game can take well over 50 hours, and it's all far more detailed than anything in Oblivion.
Anyway, it just seems you went into the game expecting something else, and you are linking your disappointment with your actual opinion of the game, causing that flipfloping from "I don't like it because it's not what I thought it was," to "It's a good game."

atol:
Well, you said "...not epic, nor engaging," at the top, which I then assumed was a general statement about the game and not specifically the combat. I gathered that you simply enjoyed Oblivion, and not specifically its visceral combat. It wasn't a logic flaw in the review, but just in your personality that I felt. You could have probably mentioned that the storyline is disjointed throughout most of the game, since setting/lore is indeed part of a story.
I still believe it's impossible to go through the game in 20 hours and finish all the side quests, you most likely finsihed them in your subsequent playthroughs. Doing everything in the game can take well over 50 hours, and it's all far more detailed than anything in Oblivion.
Anyway, it just seems you went into the game expecting something else, and you are linking your disappointment with your actual opinion of the game, causing that flipfloping from "I don't like it because it's not what I wanted," to "It's a good game."

I have the book thing that tells me what to do, so that's probably why. There is some truth in me linking my disappointment with this review, I did nothing to try and hide it as otherwise you may as well be reading a review from a machine.

Stranger of Sorts:

Wow I think I was confused by that. I bought up Oblivion with reference to gameplay and it was the gameplay that bore the adjective 'engaging'. The main story for Dragon Age: Origins was very weak but the 'lore' was very strong (i.e the background story for all the different elements of the game)

I have completed all the side quests and they are all very short, or at least would be if it weren't for the loading times (why didn't I bring up loading times in the review? Damn I forgot) The only one I remember distinctly is the one where you are paid to have a fight in a brothel.

Does that help?

If you completed the whole game including all side quests in 20 hours, then no wonder you thought it was 'pathetically short'... you must have skipped at least half the dialogue. Seriously. Fifty hours is considered a short playthrough for Dragon Age. I cannot imagine why you would run through an RPG like Dragon Age fast enough to finish it in 20 hours. Did you do the Slim Couldry quests? This game does not skimp on side-quests, not by a long way.

Apart from that, good review, not that I'm much of a critic myself. I do wish you had mentioned the game's best feature, though: the companions and the interaction between them. That is what made the game for me, although I imagine you didn't enjoy that element to its fullest having completed the game is such a short time.

Camembert:

If you completed the whole game including all side quests in 20 hours, then no wonder you thought it was 'pathetically short'... you must have skipped at least half the dialogue. Seriously. Fifty hours is considered a short playthrough for Dragon Age. I cannot imagine why you would run through an RPG like Dragon Age fast enough to finish it in 20 hours. Did you do the Slim Couldry quests? This game does not skimp on side-quests, not by a long way.

Apart from that, good review, not that I'm much of a critic myself. I do wish you had mentioned the game's best feature, though: the companions and the interaction between them. That is what made the game for me, although I imagine you didn't enjoy that element to its fullest having completed the game is such a short time.

I'm afraid that's another thing I forgot to put, it's nice and adds some depth to the game but when you hear Alistair say 'let's talk about your mother' for the umpteenth time does cause it to wear a bit. I also didn't go into the 'approval system' either for fear of slipping into a fully fledged rant, it means to make your party great with the bonus' that come from your companions liking you, you can only have a select choice of parties.

The problem with reviewing RPG's is there will always be things that you miss, I'm very happy you liked the review as it is though.

How did I do it so quickly? *waves walkthrough book* - actually that was the main reason I compared this game to Oblivion, they're the only games I have books for so it's very easy for me to compare the content of the games as all I need to do is set them down beside each other.

I have this game but haven't gotten to it as I say in about half my posts now...Back logged gaming is a terrible place to be, but my pain aside well written review. It did feel shallow in the sense that though I appreciate no spoilers, you could have gone a little deeper into it. Also for a game that obviously has a great deal of time invested on your companions you did seem to leave that part a bit scarce as well. I read all your reviews and found this one a little in the lack luster category, but hey we all have an off day or two. I would just suggest a little deeper on some parts especially something as big, well, supposedly big as a BioWare RPG. Nevertheless good review, keep it up.

Stranger of Sorts:

I'm afraid that's another thing I forgot to put, it's nice and adds some depth to the game but when you hear Alistair say 'let's talk about your mother' for the umpteenth time does cause it to wear a bit. I also didn't go into the 'approval system' either for fear of slipping into a fully fledged rant, it means to make your party great with the bonus' that come from your companions liking you, you can only have a select choice of parties.

The problem with reviewing RPG's is there will always be things that you miss, I'm very happy you liked the review as it is though.

How did I do it so quickly? *waves walkthrough book* - actually that was the main reason I compared this game to Oblivion, they're the only games I have books for so it's very easy for me to compare the content of the games as all I need to do is set them down beside each other.

Yeah, I like buying game guides when I've already played much of the game. I have the Dragon Age one and the Oblivion one also, and I've got to say, the Dragon Age one is the worst game guide I have ever read. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend using a walkthrough from the moment you begin an RPG. Kind of ruins the game a bit, surely...?

And I didn't mind hearing Alistair talking about his mother too much because I kind of love Alistair ;)

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'd like to try my hand at reviewing myself (not reviewing myself, but myself reviewing games... you know what I mean) one of these days, if I ever get round to it... do you use a template for your reviews, or do you just write what you fancy?

Camembert:

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'd like to try my hand at reviewing myself (not reviewing myself, but myself reviewing games... you know what I mean) one of these days, if I ever get round to it... do you use a template for your reviews, or do you just write what you fancy?

Nope I just sit in front of my laptop and start writing, I always have a picture on the right to start off with and a purple heading but that's just me. Have a look at some other reviews, everyone does it differently.

Hold on. You found DA:O's combat boring, despite the fact that you have control over all four party members and access to all of their different skills through the skill wheel? And you found Oblivion's combat engaging, despite the fact that it literally consisted of pressing a button to swing a sword?

scnj:
Hold on. You found DA:O's combat boring, despite the fact that you have control over all four party members and access to all of their different skills through the skill wheel? And you found Oblivion's combat engaging, despite the fact that it literally consisted of pressing a button to swing a sword?

In Oblivion you couldn't put the controller down, go and make a sandwich and come back 5 minutes later to see you fully healed and victorious. And your judgement is vary one sided, you do not have full control, you control one at a time the other 3 are controlled by the computer, where as in Oblivion you also have a variety of skills. Don't all games boil down to pressing a button to do something?

Stranger of Sorts:

scnj:
Hold on. You found DA:O's combat boring, despite the fact that you have control over all four party members and access to all of their different skills through the skill wheel? And you found Oblivion's combat engaging, despite the fact that it literally consisted of pressing a button to swing a sword?

In Oblivion you couldn't put the controller down, go and make a sandwich and come back 5 minutes later to see you fully healed and victorious. And your judgement is vary one sided, you do not have full control, you control one at a time the other 3 are controlled by the computer, where as in Oblivion you also have a variety of skills. Don't all games boil down to pressing a button to do something?

While what you say is true about the computer controlling the other 3 characters at any given time, you can set their tactics so they do what you want them to while you're not in command. And I'll grant you that Oblivion did have spells etc, but nowhere near the amount and variety that Dragon Age had. Also, I challenge you to put the controller down on the harder battles like the High Dragon, or even normal battles on nightmare difficulty setting.

I don't have anything to add, I just want to say that the lack of a stash ruined the game for me. It's an RPG, and you can't stash loot. Unforgivable.

scnj:

While what you say is true about the computer controlling the other 3 characters at any given time, you can set their tactics so they do what you want them to while you're not in command. And I'll grant you that Oblivion did have spells etc, but nowhere near the amount and variety that Dragon Age had. Also, I challenge you to put the controller down on the harder battles like the High Dragon, or even normal battles on nightmare difficulty setting.

My point still stands about your input into the battle. On Oblivion you could dodge attacks, block attacks, whatever but you can't do that on Dragon Age as it's all down to chance. Oh and Oblivion does have more spells, in fact it has a lot more; you can make your own you see.

Of course you can say 'try it on nightmare difficulty' but it should really be like that on all difficulties.

veloper:

Starting with the conclusion is not bad by all means...

I think it is. A conclusion concludes things, not starts them.

veloper:

...but in this case you'd be doing something more important than that: you tell the reader where you come from.

So you want to know what he thinks of the game? Isn't that the point of the review?

Overall a good review but your missing some stuff.

Music, graphics, and DLC (at least mention that it exists) go unmentioned in this review. Also, you never mentioned the difficulty levels which I feel were fucked up, just saying.

Your language could be much better as I didn't many if any advanced words used in this review. Or at least, I wasn't engaged enough. This could be due to the tone of the review as it goes from informative to a tad rant-like, only slightly though.

Basically your missing details but have a solid review pretty much regardless.

A few problems I have with this review:

Your discussion on combat says nothing to the availability of combat tactics, or friendly fire (hard and nightmare modes), or the variety of spell combos that produce tactically interesting effects.

Also, your claim of 20 hours of gameplay for a first time through seems to be overstated as GameInformer offered this tidbit: "Record QA speed playthough was over 12 hours using cheats on skipping all dialogue.". Clearly, the QA not only had cheats, but also an intense knowledge of the game and it's quests and had the added speed of having played the game dozens, if not hundreds, of times over.

I myself spent a good 40+ hours on my first playthrough (Easy mode, PS3) and skipped virtually all side quests, and only had any real troubles with the Lost in Dreams quest.

I also wouldn't compare this to LotR all that much. Yes, there are similarities, but these similarities are found throughout the fantasy genre.

Personally, I'm tempted to give Dragon Age: Origins my pick for Game of the Year 2009.

While the main plot wasn't really super original, it was the side plots and incredible characterization based around your companions that really drew me in.
The writing is fantastic, bringing each character's personality to life beautifully.
The voice acting is great, and I never feel taken out of the experience due to a particularly bad part, unlike another certain RPG. (COUGHoblivionCOUGH)
While the combat isn't quite as tuned as I'd like it to be, it eventually gets very engaging and has you using your abilities as effectively as possible.

I've stayed away from the higher difficulties so far for several reasons:
1. The game is already pretty damn hard.
2. On higher difficulties, I assume your whole party needs to be under your puppet strings, and I much prefer using my own character.
3. I feel it'll bring more of the flaws of combat to light.

As it is, play though the game on Normal or Casual, and you'll have a blast.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked