Friday, November 27, 2009

Dragon Age : Origins

That Dragon Age Origins is another quality fantasy CRPG from Bioware is no surprise. But then, "no surprises" describes this game in almost every way. As a fan of the genre, I wasn't disappointed with Dragon Age, but neither did it blow me away.

That's not to dismiss its production values; there are games with nicer graphics than DA:O, but I can't think of any isometric RPG that tops it (personally, I think Mass Effect looks better overall, but that's probably because it has much smaller levels). More to the point, the story is also very well done; if you're a fan of George Martin or Raymond Feist, you're going to love Bioware's latest opus.

Where Dragon Age falls short, however, is in its gameplay. The game style hasn't evolved at all since Baldur's Gate was released ten years ago. I was still running through a limited, fairly linear levels; I was still talking to NPCs with the usual nice/neutral/nasty conversation options and I was still whacking monsters with a +1 sword that I was sure I'd soon upgrade to a +2 and then +3 sword as the game progressed. I knew at some point my closest ally would come to a crisis point and possibly betray me, and that ultimately I'd have a choice between leading the world towards a light or dark ending. It was all enjoyably epic, but it was also terribly, terribly predictable.

I enjoyed Dragon Age enough to play it through to completion, but not enough to even go and play through its much-vaunted "Origin" stories again. The tales may be different every time, but I still know how they are going to end.

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