Thursday, March 4, 2010

For you? Maybe. But it'd have to be a pretty dress.

I didn’t like Mass Effect.

I also didn’t like Elder Scrolls IV/Oblivion.

I know, I know. Me and this one other dude who didn’t like those games either will sit in the corner over here with the lights off.

Still, I really wanted to like both of those games. I was intrigued with the storytelling in Mass Effect and really liked the world of Oblivion. However, with both games, something just didn’t click. The thing about me and RPGs is that if I’m going to commit a minimum of 40 hours to a game it needs to grab me right away. I can’t be bothered with complicated and messy game mechanics or quests that take 10 minutes of real time to navigate. I need an RPG to let me hit the ground running.

So, after some thought and reading of reviews, I decided to check out Dragon Age: Origins. Here I’ve got a game made by the folk behind Mass Effect in a setting like Oblivion. Considering what I’ve said above, that sounds like a no win situation. Still, I created my human mage and gave it a shot. When I turned the system off, 5 hours had gone by when I, in all seriousness, thought I had been playing for maybe 2.

This was a bad sign but in a totally different way.

Much in the same way that Fallout 3 has compelled me to dedicate 130+ hours to it’s immense and complicated world, Dragon Age: Origins has sucked me in and refuses to let go.

Selecting from 1 of 6 origin stories (I’ve only completed two at present) you find yourself going about your everyday routine when something unprecedented happens. Be it helping a friend with a terrible secret escape his would be captors or defending yourself and your friends from sexual and mental abuse, today just isn’t your day and you’re left wondering if the sudden arrival of Duncan, the Grey Warden, is going to make it any better.

You’ll soon find yourself on your way and I defy anyone to say that the impending journey is anything short of amazing and, more importantly, engaging.

For me, the mark of a truly good RPG is it’s characters. The setting, the tasks asked of you, none of it does a damn bit of good unless you care about those it’s impacting. Having said that, there were several times during the game where I felt at a total loss. I just didn’t know what to do. I knew what was best for the country, or what was best for my party, but it conflicted with a character I felt close to.

Dragon Age: Origins is incredible at bringing these moments about.

At one point, toward the end of the main quest, I nearly cried I got so upset that a decision I had made ended up messing things up for my character and her love interest. I really couldn’t believe that Bioware had created a character that I honestly liked so much that it hurt me to see him upset. I was upset over pixels, people!

And that’s pretty damn cool.

If I had to find a flaw with this game it’s that at times there are long stretches of combat to get through but the detail at which you can control all the members of your party makes it a geeky joy to take on. For example, you can say, program your mage to automatically stun every single enemy in a room giving your team time to analyze and prepare. Even though you can only physically control one character at a time, you constantly feel as though you know exactly what’s going on with everyone.

As I type this I’m giddy at the thought of downloading the available DLC. Not to mention playing through the entire game again to play with different options. Oh man, and don’t even get me going on the expansion pack, The Awakening, coming out in a few weeks. I’ve got lots of playtime to get in before then.


  1. You made Alistair king, didn't you?! =P

    I love DA:O, too, and it's all because of the fantastic writing and amazing characters. I love every single one of the companions (especially Alistair! Haha). It's become one of my favorite games ever, for serious.

  2. That sounds so much cooler than Oblivion. I've been so frustrated with the length of that game. At first, I was all "OMG look at all the NPC's! They all have houses and lives. Neat!" And then I realized they wander around at different intervals of the day and every barrel is full of useless objects or repair hammers. And, worst of all, IT WON'T END.

    I will deffo be checking this game out. I prefer more action than RPG's recently, but this sounds cool.

  3. Wait, did you get to have the DLC for Shale? Having Shale in your party has some of the best banter in the whole game!!

  4. Omg, Shale is the best character in the game, I concur.

    Glad to hear you liked it, Cary! I did, too.

    I'd like to put in a plug for you to check out Mass Effect 2 - it's a pretty bloody brilliant game, and fixes all of the gameplay issues from the first one and streamlines the experience. However, if you just don't like outer-spaceiness and sci-fi, then it's still probably not for you.

    I personally can't believe that Awakening is dropping in like 2 weeks. I mean, FFXIII in three days, then God of War 3? Good lord. Then again, not like I can miss out on more Dragon Age. I'm going to have to start cloning myself, which we all know from years of TV will most likely end badly.

    Also - I've heard that the Dwarf Noble origin story is super-epic, though I've not seen it myself. I found the politics of Orzarmarr to be possibly the most compelling part of an already compelling game, so it'd be fun to learn more about them by seeing them from the beginning.

  5. Alex - I did indeed make him king. OMG. I was crushed when he ended it. I'm playing through again as a female noble so I can take Morrigan up on her offer and Alistair and I will have beautiful, warrior babies :)

    Kendall - Get it. Get it NOW.

    Kirk - I am very, very reluctant to try Mass Effect. I really am. I really didn't like much about the first one and have no attachment to the characters. However, you never know ;)

    Everyone - Yes, SHALE PWNS!

  6. Just remember, you need to put Alistair in his place! That's the ticket to being queen...or his mistress lol.

    By the way, did you have to break out of Fort Drakon near the end? Zevran and Oghren are hilarious rescuers :)

  7. Alexander -

    I did indeed have to break out of Fort Drakon thanks to a certain traitorous bitch who I REFUSED to make queen.


    I did not have Zevran and Oghren with me however - I'll have to try that this time around! I'm pretty close to having to break Anora out.

    ~ Cary