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12/10/2009 18:20:10 •••

Return of the Classic Tactics, Loot, & Storyline RPG

As a disclaimer, I should mention that I played all of the Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape Torment games back in the day. To me, Bioware wasn't lying when they said that Dragon Age: Origins is the spiritual successor to those games, it's a raucous throwback to the Infinity Engine games where you led a party of unusual and powerful characters through an epic tale of amazing battles against interesting villains.

In the case of Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware has built on its tradition of accomidating multiple play styles and player motivations to a degree largely unknown in the gaming industry: the game has six seperate origin stories for a player character (multiple origins being something that Bioware forum-posters have been requesting for at least a decade), and each origin has subtle, but near-perfectly implemented differences in the main game: your best friend from the origin will probably show up again at some point. Also in the same vein, it's possible to play the game with in multiple ways: Magnificent Bastard, Good Is Not Nice, Deadpan Snarker... actually, the game is so Troperiffic that one imagines that the writers frequent this site...

Speaking of the writers, the lead writer, David Gaider, who worked as a hotel manager before being hired by Bioware, has been impressing me with his fantastic dialogue and complex characters since Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. This game, however, is his epic, and the natural extension of what a skilled writer can do when given the time, resources, and respect necessary to indulge a true love for roleplaying in the video game medium.

The plot, characters, and setting of this game appear, at first glance, to be lifted from any number of popular sources; anyone familiar with the King Arthur myths will immediately note his parallel in the King Calenhad myths of Ferelden, and their Crystal Dragon Jesus equivilent, Andraste, takes inspiration from Joan Of Arc, the New Testement, the struggles of Mohammed, and even Gnostic thought. From there, though, they made the story their own by giving more subversions, aversions, and lampshades than you can shake a starmetal 2-handed sword at.

The game has some flaws, but damned if I have any interest in dwelling on them, 1/3 of the way through my second playthrough.

12/10/2009 00:00:00

While I like your explanation of the story, I didn't really see much talking about the actual gameplay. As good, nay terrific, as the story is, the gameplay is above-average at best.

And elaborating on the flaws would be nice. People would like to know this game can veer between not too noticeable bugs, to really annoying ones like characters staying in a certain animation. Plus the difficulty can get really inconsistent at times, though keep in mind I'm playing on 360.

Overall though this was a decent review. As said earlier more elaboration would be nice, but you nailed the meat of the game, the story that is.

12/10/2009 00:00:00

I would've gone into more detail, had the 400 word limit not hit me like a box of rocks. :P

I guess that I am more of a story geek than a gameplay nerd (which is not to say I don't appreciate solid gameplay), so my review necessarally revolved around the strength of the writing, which tends to be (highly!) neglected in the video game industry... In a world of Excuse Plots, Dragon Age's plot could easily be tightened up to actual novel form, and a pretty good novel, too... the Well Intentioned Extremist villain, the impressive subversion of the Dictator's beautiful daughter/Daddys Little Villain, the complex motivations of your teammates... it's all pretty good stuff.

I'm sure there are players with a more acute eye than I to nitpick over actual gameplay elements.

12/10/2009 00:00:00

Ah, didn't know there was a character limit. New, So Yeah...

The same could be said of all of Bioware's games really. I mean David Gaider could be a successful writer if he went solo. Which makes me want to check out those two expansion novels now.

But still, good review.

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