Review: Bringing you the hottest in Dwarven on Elven action.
Taking a page out of their earlier playbook, Dragon Age: Origins represents a throwback for BioWare all the way to the year 2000. A time when Bill Clinton was still in office and George W. Bush was still known for nothing more than trading Sammy Sosa to the Cubs. Oval Offices aside, the critically acclaimed Baldur's Gate II was released in September of that year and would go on to help establish BioWare as a meaningful player in the developing Western RPG industry.
As the ?spiritual successor? to the Baldur's Gate series, Dragon Age puts players in the role of a Gray Warden recruit, people who have been chosen to fight the Darkspawn and end the Blight; think, Lord of the Rings and Sauron's army. Akin to many other RPGs, the player will need to traverse the lands in order to unite the people after a political assassination takes place. Although this may not be the most original storyline, it's executed with such pizazz that the game becomes something grander. After the start of the game, players get to choose among the three different races and classes, which determines which of the different origin storylines you'll play through in the beginning. If you're main character is a City Elf in one game, NPCs and your fellow warriors will interact with you in a different way and will also affect the game's main arc. For example, an enemy may seem more malicious if you're playing as a Noble Human than in the dwarven storyline.
Similar to BioWare's more recent endeavors, you'll eventually meet up with party members who you can interact with, befriend and possibly romance with; including both hetero and homosexual relationships for those interested. While the game does do away with the recently established lawful and chaotic scale for the main character, choosing different dialogue choices will affect how the other characters think of you. Since you won't be able to change your main character's primary class of mage, warrior, or rogue, aside from adding a secondary class, during the course of the game they come in pretty useful. No matter what class you choose, you'll need your typical mage for healing, warriors for melee damage, and rogues to open chests. Thankfully each of the characters can be leveled up through the game'ss in-depth skill and talent trees. This leads to mixing and matching your party to find what works best for you as each of them possessing his or her own unique strengths and abilities.
The game plays very similar to BioWare's earlier smash hit Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in that the camera is locked behind the character giving the game a more action RPG feel. At first, allowing players to map only about six different attacks to the game's hotkeys does feel extremely limited in comparison to the PC version, but the game's radial menu more than makes up for it. Similar to Mass Effect, players can access all of the rest of their talents and skills through temporarily pausing the game and scrolling through everything. So while it feels chunky, it still gets the job done.
Graphically, the game's models look a bit dated in comparison to Mass Effect's. Textures are often blurry, though moreso on the Xbox 360 version than the PS3 version, and there's plenty of glitches and screen tearing to go around. While it's not as plentiful as the ones found in Mass Effect, it's still a bit distracting. Thankfully though, the game's environments seem to be much more varied. Each place has its own unique look thanks in large part to the game's awesome art direction and none of the towns or dungeons feel exactly alike. This to me, was the largest improvement over their last endeavor. Additionally, the accompanying soundtrack of the game is one of the stronger video game soundtracks that I've heard in a while.