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Offline dark_dragon

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Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« on: November 17, 2009, 01:36:34 PM »
Ok, so I know a few of us have finally got our hands on DA:O, I was just wondering what everybody thought of it.
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Offline Ancient Gamer

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2009, 06:50:09 AM »
Score 9/10

Pros:
Beautiful gameplay, skillfully crafted plotline (believe me, good plotlines are rare in modern computer games), decent graphics, neat character system.
I loved the dark atmosphere and the tower of the circle, Orzammar and the deep roads as well as the Brecilian Forest. But what really caught my attention was the tower of the circle. True to Bioware there were lots of easter eggs and popular culture references, as well as references to their previous games. I also loved the different starting backgrounds and resulting different starts. I tried the town elf, the noble human, royal dwarf and a tower mage. All were well made.

Cons:
- Boring last 5% of the game, meaning the whole army thing and end battle (but epic climaxes are difficult, we all know that. Still, as endings go, Bioware has had lots of better end climaxes in years past).
- Unbalanced classes, with two handed weapon wielding warriors being miserable underachievers and mages being rather uber. Still, I played as a tower elf blood mage / arcane warrior, and nuthin' could even touch me. I kinda enjoyed the munchkinism. :p


Conclusion:
One of the best CRPG games I played in quite a while. DA:O joins the great games of the past, and as a crpg it is quite refreshing (I am glad I bought the PC version, and not the flawed XBox 360 version).

Side note:
It is possible, nay likely, that the citadel is being used by level editors and plot authors out there. It is entirely possible that people get their ideas elsewhere, but I have seen many an idea in this game and others that have reminded me of citadellian stuff. And as we all know: the Citadel is the prime site on the net for plot ideas. And our ideas are free of charge. Perhaps we can spot a thank you Strolen's Citadel in future games. :) (We could use new visitors, though perhaps not hordes of juveniles come to post their Mary Sue).
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 07:49:40 AM by Ancient Gamer »
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Offline dark_dragon

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2009, 09:15:06 AM »
Score 8.0/10

Notes:
Played through as a city elf warrior. Had trouble balancing the party at first, Eventually found that three melee fighters and a healer makes a good party for my play style. I do agree with you AG, the mage is definitely stronger than the other classes. I also experienced some technical issues, but that might just be me.

Good
-Firstly, the writing is excellent. The story is very well told, and the choices you have to make affect the game world tangibly. None of them are the kick the puppy /pet the puppy of most RPGs. All choices are grey and never fall into clear good/bad. Playing against and for the many factions is really satisfying. The plot was incredibly engaging throughout, And due to this, the game has immediate replay value to see how different characters/choices would work. 

-Companions are very well written, with good character depth. Alistair in particular is very responsive to your choices. Dialogue throughout is also excellent, and the party banter is genuinely funny. The Companion quests are actually worth it. I also like that the time spent talking to your companions is rewarded by stats boost, and in the case of wynne, a very powerful ability.

-Tactics screen is very useful. I wish more rpgs would take this as an example of how to manage parties.

-I agree with you AG, the atmosphere is really well done, and the settings are great. I look forward to more from these writers and from Ferelden. The ruins in the Brecillian forest are great, as is Orzammar. I wish I could have seen more of Denerim. Its seems like a lot could be going on in such a city, and I feel a lost opportunity

-A minor point is also the lack of levelling enemies, so that enemies that are bosses at the beginning (eg: ogre) will become easier to kill as you progress, giving you great feedback on how far you've come. (some sidequest can only be completed easily at higher levels). I'm pretty sure this is only for side quests though, so you can enjoy the main quest at any level.

Bad
-I am very disappointed and a little angry at having extra content advertised in-game. It is a cheap trick to get me to spend money, and it feels like it. If the content was ready at launch, it should have been included in-game. I have no problems with add-ons, but this marketing strategy is antagonistic to players who have spent their money on your game. Big No. (1/10 lost because of this alone)

-Technical problems and long load times cause suspension of disbelief. I had particular problems with large rendering artefacts during cutscenes, where I couldn't go and change the AA settings to force a re-render. (At one point, duncan lost his facial texture, and was left as a pair of eyballs and a scalp, which while funny, distracts from the storyline somewhat) Load times seem to be proportional to how long you have been playing. After playing for a while load times between scenes were enough to allow me to go down two flights of stairs, make tea, and come back up.

-Disappointed by the mage origin story. The human noble, dwarf noble and the city elf origins have great emotional depth, and really set the character, but the mage origin seems bland.

-Some Mook grind in places. Being the illegitimate offspring of baldur's gate this shouldn't be too surprising, But I got used to a different pace. A lot of rooms are unrealistically filled with mooks, seemingly for your blade's enjoyment alone. It gets distracting

Neutral
-Expected a different gameplay/system. The system is what has already been seen in many other games before. This isn't good or bad. I had simply expected something else. Character system is simpler than previous DnD based games, but doesn't really stand out. The specialisation classes are fun to obtain though.

-Engine/Graphics decent, but does not excel in comparison to other contemporary titles. This never detract from a great game though.

Conclusion
While technically not innovative (In fact somewhat old fashioned), this game is a gem in term of the beautifully crafted storyline and emotional engagement. The writing is superb, and the plot has a real depth which is indeed rare in modern games. it does not patronise the player, and responds surprisingly well to choices. Great replay value too.

Would happily recommend to anybody.

As for the citadel being used by level editors/plot authors: That would be great! Just wish they'd post some of their "cut in production" stories here as a token of gratitude for the inspiration. I wouldn't mind reading more about Ferelden. In fact, a pen & paper RPG was build side by side: http://greenronin.com/dragon_age/. I can definitely see things like the chantry and the legends being born here at strolen's.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 09:23:52 AM by dark_dragon »
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Offline Ancient Gamer

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2009, 03:08:19 PM »
Kudos for the green ronin link!

Also, I experienced no technical difficulties whatsoever. Sounds like you have a system close to the lower limit of what this game can run on.

My 20 cents are that your PC had to do a lot of memory swapping. The increasing load time suggests that Bioware should have hired a Russian or two do optimize memory (Russians are notoriously good at that, as they have to manage on very low end systems, or so the saying goes in developer land).

Now we eagerly await Mass Effect and The Witcher 2.
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Offline dark_dragon

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2009, 02:52:59 AM »
Also, I experienced no technical difficulties whatsoever. Sounds like you have a system close to the lower limit of what this game can run on.

My 20 cents are that your PC had to do a lot of memory swapping. The increasing load time suggests that Bioware should have hired a Russian or two do optimize memory (Russians are notoriously good at that, as they have to manage on very low end systems, or so the saying goes in developer land).

Nah, I'm pretty sure that my system, at its lowest point, is twice the recommended minimum, certainly in term of memory.  The artefacts probably have something to to with my weird-ass GPUs/monitors setup more than anything. As for what you say about the memory swapping, it wouldn't be surprising, with a brand new engine, that it hasn't been fully optimised yet.

I'll keep in mind the tip about Russian programmers in the future though...
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Offline Ancient Gamer

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2009, 04:52:43 AM »
Content advertised in game is a huuuge disappointment. I fear for the future of gaming should this increase in popularity (and... *shudder* frequency).

There is an entire region in the shipped game that can only played if you purchase DLC, and there is another (Dragon Peak) that is shown, but is not visitable, and in the friggin' camp there is mr. exclamation mark that is there to pester you. You even get to free a dude from the Denerim castle dungeons that say something like: "Extra, extra, news of the hour! Buy our downloadable components and continue the storyline I am about to present you!"
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Offline dark_dragon

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2009, 11:03:01 AM »
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."-Philip K. Dick

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2009, 07:37:46 AM »
Bioware recently announced that DLC had generated 1.000.000 USD revenue soon after the game was launched.

Blast. That is it. We're never gonna get IC again. There will be DLC vendors on every corner of the market place in every blasted town.

s**t.
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Offline EchoMirage

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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 01:48:03 AM »
Echo will dispense some judgment:

Pros:
*I love the party interaction. This is the second computer game where I actually care, genuinely so, about the party members, and actually make in-character choices when speaking to them. One has to get a feel for the party member to actually progress with the dialogue; often, the straightforward choices lead nowhere, as some (Sten, Morrigan...) are rather complicated to speak with - I never know what will Morrigan get pissed at me.

*Combat, especially spellcasting, is far better than the DnD system. Cooldown is so much cooler than memorizing. The fast party heal after combat is extremely convenient and facilitates gameplay.

*The dwarven noble origin story got me really involved (have to try the others too).

*Even though the engine is old, the game is beautiful, especially the characters.

*Dwarven girls don't have beards.

*Some, not all, of the plots are deep and convoluted, rewarding and thoughtful. So rarely is this seen! The tower of the magi was one work of art!

*Love scenes are tasteful and rather nice, though I don't get why the women keep their bra on. Also, a plus for the possibility of gay sex. I managed to positively disturb a friend with a gay scene with Zevran.

*Varied equipment, nicely modeled onto the characters. Uber-magic things are rare, often you will use mundane stuff at high levels still. Too few rings. belts and amulets though to have a real choice in what you wear (most often, you wear what you get).

*Side quests! Yay for them. Especially considering that many of them require a good measure of thought and tough decisions.

*Runes can be recovered from items at no penalty. You can juggle them around as you wish.

*AI programming allows you to let characters perform some no-brainer choices and not bother you with them, though it is not sophisticated enough to actually fully automate some less important character.

*My dwarven fighter girl is positively cute; her first kiss with Alistair was also adorable, considering they smooched in full armor, and poor Alistair looked like a pedo, having to bend to kiss her.

*The Mabari hound is so much fun! Also, this is the first game ever where pissing on a tree gives you a real benefit. In the Brecilian forest, there is a Landmark.. Tent, belonging to a hermit. Of course one has too pee on that. I just wish Zevran and Shale had a conversation bit with the doggie, all others do.

Cons:
*I don't know, thieves seem to suck hard. Usually, I play with two warriors and two mages, and then go back with a thief to loot chests and pick pockets. Fail?

*The in-game advertisement, in your OWN @!#$ING CAMP where you see that @!#$ING EXCLAMATION MARK EVERY @!#$ING TIME you visit got me annoyed. Righteous wrath and all that. If it was just in the loading screen or in a Codex, I wouldn't mind.

*The stupid warriors cannot hold a doorway? Somehow, enemies squeeze past through a door even though I have three fighters there? O.o With Indomitable and Shield Wall, respectively, active? Baldur's gate had that figured out, why not this game? Positioning in combat is difficult.

*Sockets on items are not mentioned in the item description. Some 6th to 7th level items have 2-3 sockets, while some have none (huge difference). The only place you can check for sockets is back in camp, though.

*It seems shorter than Baldur's Gate 2 by a large margin - or do I just play faster?

*Spells and talents don't have numericals attached to them, making for a reduced transparency. For example - what is the real bonus of Berserk? What talents are worth activating? With some subtler abilities, I have no real idea whether they are worth having, and there is no way to find out. Even the d**ned guide book has no numeric values.

*Buffs and debuffs last really short, making their worth dubious. You can't realistically buff up even two party members. There is no such thing as the battles in Baldur's Gate, where you struggled to keep up your buffs while battling with dispels and counterspells to keep the enemy's defenses down.

Conclusion:
I'm glad I bought it; I will try to play it more than once, for sure. Recommended, warmly so.

« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 02:17:03 AM by EchoMirage »
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Re: Dragon Age: Origins reviews
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2010, 12:40:44 PM »
DLC handled MUCH better in Mass Effect 2. MUCH BETTER! (Cerberus Network)
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