My refusal to play Dragon Age: Origins...The Review (for now...)

Posted by Anonymous Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This will basically act as my review for Dragon Age: Origins because I do not want to play this game anymore...

This game is KotOR and Mass Effect gone wrong. BioWare sadly succeeds to disappoint.

Let's get to the first subject. The gameplay. The gameplay in general is basically BAD! It takes it's basic combat system back from KotOR, except took two steps backwards back with it. You choose your basic weapon attack with the X (on the PS3. A on the 360) and combine special moves/powers with the other face buttons. Instead of actually doing the moves yourself, you watch your character do the moves for you while the computer does a lot of math calculating the damage done (for people who have trouble understanding, think World of Warcraft). You control your squad of four and switch between them while doing this at the same time and you've got your basic combat. What they've done wrong with this that even KotOR did right was that BioWare took away the ability to pause and queue up attacks. Also, while you are controlling a character, you have to repeatedly keep clicking the normal attack button to attack, instead of a normal auto-attack.You also can't really tell whether or not your character is dealing any damage. You don't get a real feeling of impact with your weapons and spells. One good thing they have added to this game a 'tactics' feature which allows you to tell what your AI characters what to do when a certain situation appears (ex. "close range with one enemy" >> "do certain attack", "close range with two or more enemies" >> "do special ability".) This is a nice concept but it doesn't work very well with the mages since they want to waste all their mana thanks to these tactics, so you still have a little bit of babysitting with your teammates, but if you only have one mage in your party, there's really nothing bad about it, all you have to do is play as your mage during large battles.

Nothing else is really different about this game from other RPGs. You have your basic inventory system (loot some stuff, wear the best stuff, give your spare stuff to everyone else, and sell everything else to merchants), except they actually have an encumbrance system (the heavier the stuff is you carry, the less you can carry, and you will be unable to pick up anything else if you reach your maximum encumbrance). You have your basic leveling system (you have your basic attributes that you assign points to (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, etc.), you choose special skills the more you level up (skills like Combat, Herbalism, Trap-Making, etc., which all have four levels of specialty, ex. Basic Combat, Advanced Combat, Expert Combat, etc.). They still have your very in-depth dialogue system, but sadly, since your character doesn't have a voice actor (because there are definitely way too many lines of dialogue for the three kinds of races with both sexes your character could be), you have to read all your responses word for word, instead of Mass Effect's great dialogue system that came up before the person finished his/her sentence and you were able to choose the actual attitude of the conversation instead of the exact sentence for each response (it also seemed to flow a lot better in Mass Effect because of this. Now, it's "listen to the response, read over all of your available responses, and choose the one that fits your character most". There's a lot more moments of silence and characters standing still). It's still very black and white about which responses are good and which ones are bad and which ones are neutral, they even take the stupid step of showing you the exact effect of what your conversation did (ex. you say something Morrigan approves of, "+5 Morrigan approval", or you say something she doesn't approve of, "-2 Morrigan approval"). I feel this is a lot more old school then next-gen, where you should be able to tell how much she approves of you by her attitude towards you during that conversation...

One thing that I am slightly disappointed in is the structuring of the side-quests. They made it so they are more of add-ons to the main quest (ex. while you are heading for some certain boss, could you please get a certain item on your way there). It makes go though the long game a bit easier, but it unfortunately detracts from any variety any of these side-quests could have. It's not like you could completely detract from your main mission and explore and enjoy the world you are in.

Now to talk about what is probably the worst part about this game, the graphics. I don't know how they look on the PC, but on the console versions, they are an eyesore to look at. The environments look good from a distance, but you don't need to be very close to them to realize the bad texturing. I don't know if this is the same with the Xbox 360 (as I've heard this is a non-existent problem there), but the frame-rate is very unstable. This can drive you crazy especially in the larger fights when the PS3 can't seem to control all the action going on (and you think it would with all it's "power) and the game starts to clutter itself and make a mess of the screen. It doesn't help that the character actions aren't even that complex. It's all the same basic swinging of the sword or the raising of the hand to cast an awful looking spell. It doesn't help that the characters don't even seem to respond to damage. All they do is the basic jerk backwards or do the generic stumble backwards then forwards then fall when they die. The only exciting kills are when you finish off bosses, which are reminiscent of a God of War quicktime cutscene, but without the quicktime events.

One problem that isn't very big but is very noticeable is the lag in the game's menu screens. It's very similar to the lag in Fable 2's menus, where it takes a weirdly long amount of time to switch from screen to screen. Definitely not as long as Fable 2's, but slower than it needs to be.

What's the worst of all the the graphics are the character models. They just don't look human (or humanoid in the case for the dwarfs and elves). Looking at them when they speak to you in the close-up camera during dialogue is pretty repulsive. You can basically see the polygons that make up their faces. Now, I do understand that this game has been getting much better reviews on the PC version so all of these problems may be completely gone on that platform, but as for the PS3 version, these graphical problems will definitely get in the way of any attempts of trying to enjoy this game.

The music isn't anything special, and the sound effects couldn't be anymore generic or badly compressed. The voice acting is decent, and I didn't notice anybody sounding exactly like anybody else. It seems that all these new RPGs have one star voice actor that only stays for a very short time in the game. This game is no different, as it stars the same person who voiced Al Mualim from Assassin's Creed as a character who is important but doesn't last very long. That's all I have to say about the sound.

The story is the only thing that seems to make me want to play this game any more than I don't want to. The main quest itself is very generic good vs. bad, but the game has enough interesting parts to it that I want to see what happens next. From being sent into a dream world (or in this game's case, a nightmare) to trying to save a boy from the influence of a demon, this game wants you to just keep working just so you can see the conclusion of all these situations.

Your squad's back-stories could be interesting in a sense, but since I have delved into the Middle Age-y world very heavily influenced by Tolkien, I really have no interest in their origin, but much rather their life-story. In my seven or so hours of reluctantly playing the game, the story and the characters stories are the only part of the game I really want to get into.

What seems to be the problem is that this game even feels like it's on the wrong platform. The graphics are awful on consoles and the gameplay controls are obviously bad replacements of a mouse and keyboard. It pains me to say this, but if you ignore the story, BioWare has crafted what I like to call "another RPG". It's what I use to describe RPGs that rely too much on the story and don't take the time to perfect the actual gameplay or presentation. Everything in this game just seems so lacking. Let's just say that this game is just a step above that, if not a very tiny step.

As I am writing this review, I acknowledge that I haven't given this game the proper "reviewer" chance that I should be giving it, and that I'm probably not playing it on the platform BioWare wanted me to play it on, but this game has so many things that want to drive me away from it that I can't continue to. There are just much better games out there right now that you shouldn't have to waste your time with something like this. I know it sounds harsh, but for someone that has spent hundreds of hours in games like Mass Effect, Morrowind, Oblivion, KotOR and Fallout 3 (though I have some problems with this game as well, but I won't get into that now), I have to say that this game is pretty boring. I would highly suggest staying away from this game on consoles because it seems like such a PC game. Reading large amounts of dialogue and repeatedly clicking a button to attack is probably something you don't want to be doing on a TV. If you must play this game, I'd strongly recommend you go for the PC version, but otherwise, stay away from it.

Written by Kaillif Ammen [Gamertag: Gloqwi]


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Also, anyone reading this, please let me know how the new look for the website looks! I worked pretty hard to perfect it so please let me know!

  3. void1234 Says:
  4. I have to say that even though some of your review is correct such as the graphics it seems that you spend WAYYY to much time on the fine tuning parts of the game like the combat and inventory system. If you wanted a game with great combat skill and a great way to hold all your weapons than get a SHOOTER! What rpg's are about is the story! Even look at the games yourefer to. Mass effect and Kotor's stories totally revamped the way video games are made and how they look at the story so it's believable and pulls the player into the game. If you had actually spent TIME playing the game than you would have realized that the story is far better than Kotor's(and I loved kotor) and just as good as mass effects. It is a clear win for Bioware. Not to be harsh but you can't write a review on a game you havent really played. & hours is nothing. It took me 33 hours to neat so you clearly missed out on the majority of the story. Just keep that in mind and really think about what you say before you say it.

  5. Anonymous Says:
  6. @void1234

    First, I'd liike to say thank you for bothering to read my review. How did you find it anyway?

    Second, I definetly agree with you in that I didn't spend enough time to have a full sense of the story of the game. But the reason I brought up all those small fine-tuning bits and the reason I couldn't stand playing this game for more than eight hours (I usually put in about hundreds of hours for RPGs) IS because of small things like the inventory system or the graphics that drove me away.

    You are also correct in saying that games like Mass Effect and KotOR revamped the way games are presented, but Dragon Age does nothing to evolve the genre. It's a combination of decent gameplay and a decent way of presenting the story while having some bad mechanics sprinkled over it. In short, there's really nothing that pulls me into continuing the game.

    And yes, 8 hours in a game is probably not a good enough playtime to make a fully-fledged review that would go over everything in the game, I would call this a review in the sense that I'm going over my experience with the game (which in this case, wasn't very pleasing, so I write this as a refusal to play any more). It would be unfair for me to say that the whole game was bad, but if you talked about the game with how far I got into the game, I'd say my experience wasn't enjoyable. And isn't that what you need to know in a person's review?

    Anyway, I don't know many people who would read a random review on a random blog (or even bother to comment!), so thanks for reading!


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