Monday, November 9, 2009

Dragon Age Origins

Best. Video. Game. Ever.

So, I'm sitting here playing a lot of Dragon Age Origins, and yeah. There's so much to say here.

Graphics:

It's beautiful. Endlessly beautiful. Every place you go is beautiful. The ugly places are beautiful. My only complaint is that all children look exactly alike- waifish, 10-year-old British boys every one. It's a little odd.

Sound: The voice acting is superb. Every character is unique, every conversation is natural and no offhand comment is wasted. In fact, at one point, you'll have a party of about 9 people, though you can only take 3 with you out of Party Camp. Try to put together opposing personalities, because the background conversations that result as you wander around are hilarious.

The music is gorgeous, as well, and not overbearing.

Play: Could go on forever if you took all the side quests. I recommend saving often, because the fighting takes a while to get used to. I also recommend playing as a mage your first time through. I am not, my friend is, and he is having a far easier time than me. Technically, Dragon Age has a turn based combat system, but not really. You fight in real time, enemies react in real time. Because you are always in a group of 4, you fight swarms of enemies at a time, and it can be challenging to say the least. The AI is smart, and vicious, and I highly recommend reading the manual, which leads us to . . .

Tactics: the coolest feature of the game. You can set your group members to perform certain actions in battle based on simple [if . . . then] statements. If ally's health is less than 50%, heal ally. If enemy's health is less than 25%, perform Finishing Blow. (The AI does preset your allies for you, but you will want to tinker as you find the flaws in their fighting.) This will come in more handy than you realize. You don't have to play all the time as your created character, btw. You can be any member in your party. In fact, if your created character dies in battle, you will automatically switch to a surviving party member. I recommend familiarizing yourself with each ally's fighting moves for when this happens.

Hyperrealism: Ferelden suffers from racial tensions and misogyny, about on the level with, say, stereotypical Alabama. I'm playing as a female Dalish elf. When people meet me, they can't decide whether to question whether or not Grey Wardens even come in female, or ask why, as an elf, I'm not currently serving my slave owner.

Summary: Got $60? Buy this game. Now.

18 comments:

  1. I did last Tuesday and been playing it ever since. You cannot say enough about this game, that is why I can't wait for Mass Effect 2. I prefer the futuristic setting.

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  2. I kind of prefer the baroque loveliness of the nonexistent medieval period myself. but we can wear the same armor in both.

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  3. have you figured out how to use runes and frozen lightning and such yet?

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  4. You use runes by having them enchanted upon weapons and armor with enchantment slots by going to Sandal, Bodhan Freddic's (the merchant dwarf at your camp) autistic savant adopted son.

    Frozen Lightning is just something you use like a potion to give you a temporary electrical resistance.

    I'm currently 20 hours into Dragon Age and as an avid RPG player of both western and console RPGs for over a decade, and as someone's who's literally played every Bioware RPG ever released, I have a few thoughts in regards to your comments:

    1. Graphics, while generally in-line with current generation standards, are actually an overall step DOWN from Mass Effect, much to my disappointment. Character's faces aren't quite as expressive, and most jarringly, background textures are incredibly blurry and low-res on close-ups, such as during cutscenes or conversation. Furthermore, the blood splatter is gratuitous, distracting, and unconvincing.
    Otherwise it does look very nice.

    2. Sound: The voice acting is every bit as commendable as you said, and is a longstanding Bioware trademark - I'm also pleased they kept recycled voice actors to a minimum (a real problem in the Dungeons and Dragons franchise games as well the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games)

    The music is generally good, though limited and similar to, but not as outstanding as the music found in Bioware's Neverwinter Nights 2 and Bethesda's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

    3. Play: being a mage doesn't give you a significant advantage provided that you make your first stop on your quest to enforce the Grey Warden treaties the Circle of the Magi, where you pick up talented Spirit Healer Wynne. By that point, it's just simple party balance mechanics, regardless of your character's class.

    4. Tactics are indeed cool, though this mechanic has been around since Bioware's own Baldur's Gate 2

    5. Hyperrealism (aka Verisimilitude): you rolled a female city elf? Are you seriously a glutton for punishment?
    As an aside, if you find this sort of racial dynamic compelling, you should look into CDProjekt's The Witcher, provided you have a respectable-spec gaming PC.

    6. Final Thoughts: Best game ever? Afraid not, the characters are compelling but many of the dungeons are too long for their own good and the plot is entirely too evocative of the Lord of the Rings. For the Best Game Ever (in this roleplayer's opinion) seek out Bioware/Black Isle's Planescape: Torment for PC.

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  5. PC gaming? Pshaw!

    (and my home computer couldn't possibly do it.)

    trust me, the mage is a huge advantage. i have to hit people individually. the mages can learn spells of mass destruction that not only hit numerous enemies at once, but also keep damaging for extended periods of time.

    lazy bastards.

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  6. Dual-wielding warrior for the win. You can hit multiple targets in front of you with dual-wield.

    Planescape: Torment is awesome, and old so your computer might be fine for it PF. (Notice I am not mentioning last night's game...)

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  7. Mages can cast spells of mass destruction, but on normal or higher difficulty, those spells of mass destruction damage your party members, and yourself. It's not the best option (which is why I have no damage-dealing mages in my party).

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  8. i love playing RPGs. i HATE them when they are video games of any sort. i can sort of handle World of Warcraft, but only if i avoid PVP [player vs player] stuff, and have people to play -with-


    that said - it's awesome that you are able to play.
    you ok?

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  9. physically, okay. mentally, i'm terrified of other people and their germs.

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  10. @denelian: Hey, Wintergrasp is pretty fun...

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  11. Ooh, ooh, ooh, video games.

    I'm a semi-professional games programmer (Okay, fine, I'm am ambitious hobbiest who thinks too much of himself), and I like learning about people's opinions on games. I personally don't like RPG's much: they lack a certain level of immersion (though I admit, I loved Morrowind. It was so damn weird, it was awesome).

    As a result, I often get into debates with my artist (who loves RPG's) about what it is I don't like, and we've decided it's management. Having to manage weapons and stats and levels and crap all seems too much like work to me, and I hate repeating all that for party members. I don't play RTS's, either.

    Based on your report... the hyperrealism and customisation sound good, and I might be able to get into the story, but I have loathed the combat system of every RPG I've ever played. This includes ones praised for their innovation, like KOTOR and even [barricade's the house] Mass Effect (though to be fair to Mass Effect, I was playing as an Adept. That was a bad choise).

    So yeeahhh. I don't really have a point. [/ramble]

    Wait, yes I do. In a hypthetical 3rd Person Shooter/RPG combo, which RPG elements and which Shooter elements would you most enjoy? Eg. Lots of weapons customisation on a few basic weapons, versus a large number of different weapons that you pick up and discard? Any form of experience/leveling rewards, or just pick-up-and-use whatever comes your way? Lots of exploration and side quests, or just some epic-but-linear main story? Etc.

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  12. PF:
    i get it. i'm sorry :( can i recommend Zicam, or some other immune-booster? *hugs*
    i am rebelliously praying for [to! :D] you. well, you know what i mean lol.
    is there anything you need? Barnes and Noble is doing a free-shipping thing thru thursday, any cheap books or something?

    EC: you intrigue me, with this "Wintergrasp". it's something like WoW but single player? [i'm guessing...?] i've been fairly spoiled by playing D&D for... oh my god, i am OLD 27 or 28 years. [not *that* old, i started playing when i was 6]. but i am not totally unwilling to be swayed - based on PF's critique of DragonAge, Pete [my boyfriend-type-person] is going to get a copy for GiftMass :) and i'll probably end up futzing around with it, too. is Wintergrasp similar to DragonAge? [i am such a dork - i wrote "dragon's egg" because in the Thursday D&D game, that's what we've taken to calling our "main" quest. lol]
    would you happen to have a link to a review or something?

    thanks.


    PF: really, feel better. i appologize again for missing the post saying you were ill/hospitalized/surgery-ized... *MOARHUGZ* hugz can cure anything.

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  13. ZICAM?!?

    WTF!!!!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zicam#Safety_concerns

    Woo + Damage = STAY THE FUCK AWAY.

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  14. ...Away from Zicam, I mean - obviously.

    By the way, though, this post actually made me wish I played video games (very difficult to accomplish.)

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  15. Dragon Age Reviews:

    http://www.gamerankings.com/xbox360/950918-dragon-age-origins/articles.html

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  16. denelian: no worries, i'm feeling the pagan love!

    Quasar:

    I don't really like customizing weapons, to be honest. I like finding better weapons as I level up, and then discarding them as better stuff comes along.

    I like leveling up. It's that sense of personal achievement I just don't get in real life.

    As for side quests v. main quest. I love side quests. I dunno, I just like wandering around in an alternate universe doing stuff. It's fun. Dragon Age has both though: an epic main quest and tons of side quests. Tonight, I have an archdemon to slay. Being a rogue, that's probably not going to go all that well.

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  17. PF: hooray!

    Kelley -
    i have been given zinc suppliments my entire life; they used to cost a LOT, and then Zicam showed up with as much zinc for -much- less. zinc boosts the immune system, in a fashion similar to how vitamin C boosts it. Zicam has had some issues with certain delivery vehicles - but their tablets and others have never caused any problems.
    hell, 3 years ago, i was part of a Zicam study. sadly, for that one, i was the "control", and i had flu-symptoms for almost a full month. which is what happens when i DON'T take zinc. take the zinc, it lasts for a week or less.

    *shrug* so far as i know, the delivery vehicles that were called into question have been completely removed. and it's not like AirBorne, which had -no- methodology behind it's invention. Zicam was "created" AFTER years of study on zinc and the immune system.
    you don't have to use it. no one does. read what i wrote up there again - Zicam, or some other immune-booster - the POINT was something to boost her immune system. thats all.

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  18. This post was right about the time I found the blog, I was very sad at the time that my computer couldn't run the game, it was the first sign of age for my com. I however just got a PS3 and this was the first game I got. It just made me think of this post and I had to share.

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