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Dragon Age: Origins review

Posted by Dark Legion 11/22/2009 ,


This is not a game that can be simply explained. How does it begin? It begins in six completely different ways, and each of these can be met with a wildly different approach. An excellent portion of the game to relate would be to relate the adventures in the dwarven city of Orzammar, except there's little chance that you will experience the same events in the same way when you get there.
The relationships you have, your allies and enemies, your party - they all form an experience unique to you.

What will be common to all is the combination of dialogue and combat. Whether you play as a human, elf or dwarf, a rogue, warrior or mage, a noble or a commoner, Dragon Age requires smart use of your wits and weapons. Combat is a combination of real-time fighting and turn-based handing out of orders. You have control of all in your current party (which has a maximum of four characters), as well as an elaborate Combat Tactics system that enables you to all but program your team's AI. But there's also an entire realm to explore, and a central, overwhelming theme of acculturation within its many towns and races. This is about politics, moral philosophy and love. And about killing dragons with swords.


No matter how you approach Dragon Age, combat will be your constant companion. While there are many encounters a silver tongue can end peacefully, you aren't going to be reasoning with the Darkspawn, enraged demons, or bandits and assassins. This is where balance in your party is essential. The game's unfriendly difficulty settings (more on this later) don't leave much room for a gang that doesn't have at least one healer, a couple of strong melee fighters, and someone capable of combat both at range and close up. Fortunately you've no shortage of suitable candidates.

You can approach combat in a couple of ways, depending upon your personal preferences and the difficulty level to which you've set the game. In theory, setting it to Easy should let you fight in real-time, where you select opponents and issue instructions from a row of tiled attacks, spells and special items familiar to any MMO player, as the fight happens. Choose Normal, and you'll have to make consistent use of the Spacebar to pause and jump between characters, lining up their next move. This might be to heal themselves, change target, use a particular special attack, or aid another. Hit Space again, watch those moves play out, then pause once more. It's a form of self-created turn-based play that encourages enormous involvement.


Were the difficulty levels not so enormously silly, it would require sheer pickiness to find a major fault with this game. Importantly, overly difficult sequences can be powered through on Easy, but this doesn't excuse it being necessary.


[via Engadget]

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