Considering Dragon Age has pretty much dominated my past week I thought appropriate to write up my final thoughts about. As of last night I finally finished my first play-through of the game. I took my sweet time and unlock all kinds of achievements in my travels.
Apparently I cannot link to my online profile however since it seems to require validation. Oh well.
So where to begin. I really enjoyed the story and world that Bioware has crafted. Sure, it had its “here comes the ultimate world ending evil, save everyone”, but it included a lot of other story elements as well. Solving civil wars, amassing an army, and things like that. The world didn’t feel as seamless as in Oblivion where you could travel across the world map without a load screen.
That would probably be my biggest complaint for the game. Far too much loading. And I am sure there are plenty of technical reasons for it but after being spoiled by things like WoW and Oblivion, the “healthy” amount of times I spent looking at a loading screen was an annoyance.
One common occurring bug popping up on the forums is that load times get increasing long the longer your play session is. A minor problem compared to the constant crashing many people experienced with Mass Effect.
Combat felt like the happy marriage between Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic. There was the micro-managing you found a little heavier in KOTOR but incorporated some of the tactical elements you found in Mass Effect, such as using line of sight and character positioning. More than once I placed my party around a corner in a doorway and pulled mobs to them to help protect my casters.
One addition to the combat system is what Bioware called “Tactics.” Essentially these are simple conditional statements that you can configure for each of your party members. Things such as telling your healer to heal any party member below a certain health percentage, tell your DPS to use an AoE ability when surrounded by 3 or more mobs, and other things like that. It was fairly robust with commands ranging from distance checks, party health, their personal health status, and many others.
If there is one thing I truly loved in this game was the dialogue. Not just your dialogue options during story progression, but the hilarious banter between your companions while you travel. There are so many gems hidden in these sound files that people already had made threads on the Dragon Age forums about what their favorite lines were so far.
Some of my favorites were references to Star Wars and the Princess Bride. But there were many times I would stop moving just so I could hear the conversations easier because they were so hilarious.
I played through the game on hard difficulty and it was a challenge, especially early on in the game. There were some fights I actually had to leave and come back to once I had leveled up some more and unlocked some more abilities and armor. Similar to Oblivion, every encounter is “epic” fight, for better or worse. Every thug hits like a truck and they come with tons of friends. Every wolf travels in a pack of like . . . . a bajillion. I swear.
Sure, it felt great to mow down a group of 20 or 25 guys, but sometimes you would think to yourself “Man, if every thug is this strong, let’s get them all together to save the world.”
Another difference between what you found in Mass Effect or KOTOR was the lack of a “alignment” bar. In KOTOR you either leaned dark side or light side unless you remained neutral, and Mass Effect had a similar system. In Dragon Age, rather than one encompassing alignment, you had a reputation bar with each individual party member. Any action you did could influence them to like you more or hate you. And some decisions could catastrophically alter your party members.
With that being said, not everyone will enjoy Dragon Age Origins. You would have to have really enjoyed the playstyle found in games like Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR, or Mass Effect. If you enjoyed any of the games on that list, I highly recommend it. Dragon Age doesn’t have the most cutting edge graphics, but it still takes a bit of a beast to run. Especially since some fights will have 20-30 characters on screen actually participating in a battle.
I had a blast playing through it. I plan on doing it again, except with a spellcaster this time. Should be fun. Thoughts, comments, or your own Dragon Age experiences, share them in the comments. Try to avoid spoilers though.