Dragon Age, The Second Coming of CRPGs

November 18, 2009 at 13:00 | Posted in games, RPG, software | Leave a comment

After many years of waiting the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate finally arrives.

I’ve now had my hands on Dragon Age: Origins for almost two weeks. This is a game I had been waiting for since Bioware first announced it several years back. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of when this was, but it was somewhat soon after the release of Neverwinter Nights. All in all a long times waiting, and so far it’s been totally worth it.

I’ll begin with saying that this game is made first and foremost for the PC. One could argue that a lot of games are better looking and have more choices than you average console port, but some games, especially action and platform games, plays better on a console. In Dragon Age, it’s clearly a computer game ported to consoles and not the other way around as in say Mass Effect. If you’ve ever played Baldur’s Gate and WoW, you’ll immediately feel right at home with the controls.

While the various stats and options might seem a bit disorienting at the start of the game, you’ll soon learn what abilities are useful for what. If you’re not the stat savy type there’s always the option of “auto level up” which helped me out a lot in the beginning with some of the NPCs. What makes the system intriguing is that all classes gains the same amount of differing abilities. No longer are mages the only versatile characters available to you as warriors and rogues alike have just as many tricks up their sleeve. That being said however, several of the non-magical abilities are “turn-on-and-forget” modes, but even they give you a tactical choice.

And you’ll need those tactical choices. So far I’ve only been playing on normal difficulty, but whenever you meet a boss it really pays off knowing your abilities and how to use them. After the difficulty nerf in the last patch to easy and normal however I’ve been thinking of upping the difficulty to hard to get closer to the sometimes soulcrushing encounters you would find in Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2. It’s less about luck than it is about sound strategic planning, and finishing of a particular hard fight leaves a great sense of accomplishment.

The story so far has also been good. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it suffuses the world and gives a great immersion factor. It works off the vibes of a gritty low-fantasy setting where there is no tangible sense of wrong or right. One of the ways this plays out is the fact that there’s no arbitrary alignment meter that is so common these days in RPGs. Instead you, the player, gets to choose what course to take, and they’re often far from the “Satan vs. Jesus” type of choice and more in the realms of grey, although often less gloomy than The Witcher. It follows in the footsteps of the latter though in how your choices actually do alter the course of the game in a tangible way and aren’t just concentrated to that particular bit of the story.

Suffice to say, this game is all that I wanted, even if I didn’t know what it was I wanted when I got it.

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