Saturday, October 17, 2015

"It's a Video Game!" - Dragon Age: Origins

Well, this was a long time coming. A few months back, I told ya’ll I got a bit preoccupied with a series called Dragon Age. It took a while but I was able to more or less finish the series as it is now. I’m not big on fantasy games like these which is probably why I didn’t play the first game when I got it. I’ve played Oblivion and Skyrim but that’s about it. I bought Dragon Age: Origins on a whim a couple of years ago but I didn’t start to play it heavily until June. I guess something finally clicked or I was pretty bored. I had so much fun with it I decided to check out the rest of the games in the series.

For those who don’t know, the Dragon Age series was developed by Bioware. I looked at their other successful RPG series, Mass Effect, back in May. I guess the best way to describe Dragon Age would to say it’s like Lord of the Rings but much darker. You have humans, elves, and dwarves, but there are also more heavy issues in the game like slavery, racism, and bigotry. It takes place in the fictional land of Thedas. The plan is to basically talk about the three DA games that are out there. Instead of doing in one post, I’m splitting this up since I have a lot of stuff to say. Today, I’m starting with Dragon Age: Origins (DAO).

I know you can barely tell, but it was kinda hard to get the skin tone in. My guy looks like he just got a tan.

DAO was released by Bioware in 2009. They apparently spent several years working on the game and it definitely shows. In the game, you play as a Grey Warden (in my case, Raphael Amell) whether he/she is a mage, warrior, or rogue. The Grey Wardens are a group of fighters who are supposed to protect the land during an event called the Blight. During the Blight, an Archdemon (a big dragon) will lead hordes of Darkspawn (corrupted humans, elves, and dwarves) upon the Earth. The first big battle goes poorly for the land of Ferelden, so you basically have to go around the land and build up a resistance against the Darkspawn. You’ll gain companions, allies, and enemies along the way to beat this unstoppable force.
We have met the enemy and he is... HOLY ########! RUN! GET TO THE CHOPPA OR SOMETHING!

I really liked this game. When I got to playing the game again, something just clicked in me to continue playing. I don’t know if it was the world, the characters, or all of the above. I think my love for the Mass Effect series carried over to this as well since it was made by the same developer. The overall story is pretty good. You literally get to build your character from the ground up with their own backstory, race and fighting style. When I first played it, I was a warrior but that didn’t interest me. When I went back to playing it, I went mage and pretty much stuck with it in all of the other games.

The world is pretty big like with a lot of RPGs. It’s not a completely open world since cities and certain areas are segmented but it is still pretty big. You have a lot of missions to do and many decisions to make. It’s a lot like Mass Effect in that your decisions have consequences on your relationships, your status, and how your experience is going to be. You can either be a virtuous warrior or the nastiest motha sucka Ferelden has ever seen! Unlike Mass Effect, you get to see what your decisions have made the land of Ferelden look like at the end of the game.
Beccoming a Grey Warden is no joke.

The companions were pretty good overall. You get a mix of styles and personalities. They also have a bit of depth to them. My favorites were Morganin, Leliana, Sten, and Oghren, and Alistair. You also get a lot of interesting non-playable characters in the game as well. While you have the Archdemon and Darkspawn to deal with, you have an interesting antagonist with Loghain. Let’s just say the situation with Loghain gets different in the game. The voice acting was pretty good and you’ll probably recognize some familiar voices. I recognized Claudia Black (Farscape), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), Tim Curry, and Steve Blum in different roles. The music is pretty epic. It hits all of the right moments with the different moods the game gives.

The combat is pretty good for the most part. You actually get to use any weapon at your disposal which is something the other games unfortunately don’t have. You face a variety of villains here. The final boss is probably one of the toughest I’ve ever faced. I mean, it make you wanna cuss out the TV! Online help didn’t even do much good but I did beat it. Lastly, the visuals looked good here. Everything from the landscapes to the armor you wear looked good. You also get a lot good DLC’s and even one expansion pack called Awakening. I haven’t done them all but what I have done has been pretty good.
If you're wondering, I named the dog "Sin Eater." 

There’s little to not like about the game. You will run into some glitches. I actually got trapped in a room during a mission and couldn’t find a way out. That was messed up. I especially ran into sound glitches during the Awakening's expansion. The combat can also be a little “meh” at times. While the Archdemon was a good final boss, that was all it was and nothing else. Finally, some missions can go on for way too long. I don’t know how long I spent with the dwarves underground, but it felt like most of the game to me.

Overall, this is a near perfect game. If you haven’t played it yet and you’re old enough, check it out. Well, I’m outta here. Next time will be a much smaller but similar game: Dragon Age II. Peace and God Bless.

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