Gaming Today Reviews Dragon Age: Origins

dao_boxAs a long-time RPG player, I’ve sunk countless hours of my life into games like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Icewind Dale. I’ve been looking forward to dropping all my other games and devoting myself to Dragon Age: Origins, the “spiritual successor” to Baldur’s Gate from Bioware.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to review both the PC and XBox 360 versions of the game, so I will try and give a few comparisons between the two. However, right from the start I should make one thing clear: This is a GREAT game.

One of the things that sets Dragon Age: Origins apart is the fact that you cannot simply talk about how the story goes. Depending on which race and class you choose for your character, you will play through one of six different introductions. Regardless of which intro you play, you’ll end up as a Grey Warden, a powerful warrior who is sworn to combat the spread of the Darkspawn blight.

dragon_age_origins_2As you progress through the game, it’s obvious that this is a Bioware title. You spend a lot of time progressing through dialogue trees, whic actually has quite an effect on how the game progresses. You will recruit a number of fellow adventurers to your cause, but to keep them happy, you must make choices that they agree with. Make enough bad choices, or deal with people in a way they do not approve of, and they will abandon you. Of course, you can switch out party members when you visit your camp, so learning what each character agrees with can allow you to frame a party that fits your playstyle.

One of the basic gameplay features of Dragon Age: Origins will feel familiar to anyone that has played an MMORPG, or a classic RPG, such as Baldur’s Gate. You can choose to play the game in a third person viewpoint, with a hotbar of abilities to use, just like a MOO would offer. Alternatively, you can play the game in a top-down, side-view camera mode that recalls the classic RPG’s of the past. If you prefer both of these modes, you can switch between them at will. Well, at least you can in the PC version. The XBox 360 version is tied down to the third person perspective, but that’s a limitation of the console controller, rather than the game. This is one of the main areas (other than graphics) where the PC version is far ahead of the console iterations of the game.

dragon_age_origins_1Graphically, Dragon Age on the PC looks amazing. Blood sprays all over the characters, environments are lush and detailed, and characters and NPCs alike look great. Unfortunately, the 360 version suffers in this respect, falling far behind the PC version in looks.

Regardless of which version you choose, Dragon Age: Origins is a richly detailed, story-driven RPG that fans of the genre absolutely must pick up. If you have the option to do so, I would recommend the PC version of the game, as it brings the most options and the best graphics to the table. However, if a console is your gaming platform of choice, you still owe it to yourself to pick this game up. Just be prepared – As with most Bioware RPGs, you can expect to sink over a hundred hours into this game in the first playthrough.

Gaming Today gives the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins a 9.5, and the 360 version an 7.5.

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