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02/19/2011 09:25:41 •••

Only Bioware could make a game this good feel like a disappointment.

Dragon Age is the story of a band of heroes journey to save the land of Ferelden from orcs the Darkspawn, by uniting a country divided by civil war and xenophobia. Mass Effect and Jade Empire much?

Okay, so Dragon Age is quite similar to Bioware's other games, but that doesn't matter? After all, the game is really fun!

Well... mostly.

DA has some wonderful moments—the main story quests are well fleshed out, but even then there are long periods boredom or backtracking involved. Sidequests boil down to Fed-Exing letters or killing "X". Unfortunate, but not surprising.

Combat has problems. On my PC copy of the game, the controlled character sometimes forgets to target the enemy I want him to, instead choosing to stand and stare as he is perforated by arrows or blasted with a fireball. Compounding that, The Computer Is A Cheating Bastard whenever it wants to be (which is often), and enemies level as you do, forcing your warriors to purchase ever more expensive weapons and armors to stay competitive. This only applies to warriors and rogues though—as usual for Bioware, mage users can take advantage of enough exploits so as to make NPC party members afterthoughts.

Speaking of NPC party members, the characters in DA can be somewhat bland. A good-natured warrior grieving for his friends, a darkly beautiful witch, a besotted dwarf, and so on. That's not to say that they're boring—the dwarf is a berserker who drinks in part to block his pain over the loss of his wife, the witch has was raised by a woman out of one of Grimms a fairy tales and so on.

The biggest problem I had with DA was the hype. Before release, we saw wonderful trailers and listings of the games highlights. What those of us looking forward to the game didn't see was the hours of aimless wandering and boredom inducing fights.

Final verdict: Give the game a chance—it's a fine example of what WRP Gs do well, that suffers from the usual WRPG problems. In particular, where DA stumbles is in trying to remake the RPG genre while using the same set-pieces that Bioware used to do it the first time.

01/07/2010 00:00:00

Yeah, I just can't get behind the idea that the characters of DA are "boring." In trying to distill the characters down to a single trait, you do them a disservice. Do truly good-natured people deliver ultimatums on execution? Does "besotted dwarf" really capture the scope of a man who has truly lost everything that his society and he personally values, while still holding to his duty to his family? If you're boiling these characters down like that, it makes me think that you either didn't take the time to get to know them, or you didn't appreciate what you were reading.

Frankly, in comparison, Minsc was pretty boring. He had the one crazy schtick and some good lines, but he lacked significant motivation other than "Sword, meet evil!" Jan was a little better, but still tended to fall into the plucky comic relief end of the spectrum. In contrast, ALL of the NPC followers of Dragon Age have moments of silly and moments of serious. Even Sten.

Also, I don't think the rest of the party are afterthoughts if you're a mage; you're still a Glass Cannon and will get torn apart if you don't have backup.

01/08/2010 00:00:00

Familiarity sometimes breeds fun. When we've deviated from the "standard fantasy" universe for too long and too many people are trying to do something different, what becomes the norm of yesterday becomes the new of today. So a return to basic character archetypes allows the potential to explore what made us like them in the first place.

50 years from now, if there's ever a resurgence of a mostly dead genre that uses every cliche in the book, I guarantee you people will see it/play it (whichever medium) in droves and appreciate it more than they did when it was the norm.

Is fantasy dead? Absolutely not. But there's been so many "unique" spins on it which are becoming tired that a direct copypasta of almost every stereotype is almost refreshing at this point.

04/05/2010 00:00:00

Whoa, hold the phone, one has to buy better equipment as one levels up?! Get out! You have played an RPG before, correct? I mean, D&D started that, not Bio Ware. I mean, you don't really have to, provided you have an impeccably built character and a sound tactical mind, but there being plenty of money to be had so why not?

12/29/2010 00:00:00

Eh. My biggest problem with the game is that I got caught up in the hype, and wasn't able to look at it with unbiased eyes. Thus the experience that I got was a disappointment.

My complaint about the equipment ended up getting cut thanks to the character limit. My problem is that relying on stuff you find in dungeons only goes so far, and that buying enough equipment to keep just one frontline warrior properly equipped breaks the bank. Trying to play with a melee-focused party the way I like to was almost impossible. If I had been playing with a magic heavy party, this wouldn't have been an issue. So my problem was that I felt warriors got shafted compared to the wizards on all fronts, not just the usual Bioware one.

12/29/2010 00:00:00

All gaming companies want to hype up their games. Tends to be good for business. You should probably get used to disappointment.

Main issue I had was the repetitiveness. The writing and gaming addictiveness (And the humor) are probably the main reasons people play through the entire game.

Side issues: Mages completely dominate the game if you know which spells to choose. Also, there needs to be more details about what your abilities do.

By the way, most people in real life only show 2 dimensions of their personality to other people anyways (And most people are pretty straightforward 99% of the time), so the characters were actually pretty good.

01/27/2011 00:00:00

My problem is that relying on stuff you find in dungeons only goes so far, and that buying enough equipment to keep just one frontline warrior properly equipped breaks the bank. Trying to play with a melee-focused party the way I like to was almost impossible.

Not if you know both how to make money and where to find the best gear at the cheapest cost. In my last playthrough, I had my entire party outfitted with some Game Breaker-tier armor and weapons and still had more than 200 sovereigns by endgame. And this was after buying Far Song and every ability enhancing book in the game, on top of the class manuals. An excellent idea is to grab the Dwarven Merchant's Belt as early on as possible; that alone ensures you will be swimming in cash by level 15, let alone the ludicrious amounts of money you'll be looting late-game (at one point I looted five whole sovereigns off a Hurlock Alpha!) In addition, the DLC has some very powerful gear for use; I'd highly recommend at least getting the Stone Prisoner and return to Ostagar DLC. Cailian's armor and sword + Alistair = "HAHA PUNY MORTALS!"

02/19/2011 00:00:00

While I disagree with you on the topic of the characters, I do have to say that everything else in this review is true. The game had brilliant moments, but Bio Ware took some Grade-A USDA approved awesome gaming and loaded it down with padding and filler. Highly reccomendable, but with far too many flaws. Here's hoping Dragon Age II is an improvement.

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