Dragon Age – 1st Impressions


While December 25th for most people is Christmas, November 3rd was mine. The biggest RPG this side of Oblivion was FINALLY released and that of course is Dragon Age: Origins.
 
Before I get started, I would like everyone to know that I got this for both PC and X360 and I will discuss the specs for each.
 
Installation – Installed in about 10 to 15 minutes to the 360 took about a 1/2 an hr for both my desktop and my Macbook Pro in boot camp.
 
Graphically speaking, the game looks great on my desktop. I am running a 256Gb Over clocked Nvidia 8600GT so I can run most setting on medium to high with little slowdown.
 
Surprisingly, the Xbox’s graphics are a bit disappointing. Some of the colors are muted and some of the faces look a bit mashed and when doing cut scenes there is quite a bit of jitter and when there are many things going onscreen at once, the frame rate takes a hit. And that’s bad considering how great Mass Effect looked 2 years ago and this is keeping in mind that again, I installed this game on my 360’s hard drive.
 
On the Macbook, (Nvidia 9400M) it runs ok with all the settings down low and actually looks pretty ok despite the settings, but it’s what I expected. I installed it on the laptop because I will be traveling quite a bit during the holidays and I don’t want to drag my 360 everywhere I go! I do plan to boost the onboard RAM and I am hopeful that it will help the game run a bit better.
 
Camera-wise, the PC has the best option in that you can go from a 3rd person POV to an over world tactical view which lets you plan on where to move next and formulate your fight plans.
 
Control wise, while the PC has superior controls (as most PC RPGs do anyway) surprisingly the 360 manages to keep everything organized and easy to find using the control pad but still it’s a shame if you are using a mage you are still limited by key assignments where you can place your most used spells.
 
Now, play wise, (***Warning there will be spoilers!***)

I am using a male elf mage on the 360 and a female Human warrior on the laptop. I put this in detail for the very reason to test what I have read so far in that NPCs will treat you different ways and indeed they do! In some areas people will indeed talk down to the mage because he is an elf as elves are the minority in this game and in the other instance many will be shocked that a woman is also a warrior. Thank you Bioware for putting these issues in this game; I have actually gotten to see at least one character react differently to these 2 characters of mine and expect to see more!
 
One thing I have noted so far is that the mage’s origin story takes a little longer to play as that character has to go through an initiation phase to become who he sets out to be and this is even before he is set to become a Grey Warden and something tells me that within that portion, will play itself out later on in the game! As for the choices you make early on much of the mage’s story concerns himself with another apprentice there and his breaking of the rule while in training to become a mage. This storyline gives you a taste of the 1st major decision that will set the game in motion and when that section finishes you will be in for a bit of a surprise and the payoff is nice indeed for it to be so early!
 
The Warrior origin is a bit more straightforward and shorter and involves a family betrayal which winds up in murder. The decision that you make here determines which companion will come with you as you flee for your life.
 
Eventually you start to learn about the Grey Wardens and why they fight the dark spawn. This is where you start to see the difference in this game vs. Oblivion and how Bioware managed to work in so many tried and true stories (Star Wars and LotR specifically)to make the player feel a sense of desperation that the world is looking to you to save it. Some of the places in Felderen while nice to look at does indeed feel dark and dreary most of the time. People are fighting to stay alive and one step ahead of the darkspawn and there is a general feeling that there is little hope left. No one can be trusted but at the same time almost everyone has a story to tell. So, when it was said that this would be a dark fantasy, they were not kidding!
 
The NPC interaction in your party is most interesting of all with just some of the banter that goes back and forth. So, in essence, it’s as you heard. They kid around, tease and sometimes hate each other due to your decisions. You cannot do everything to please all of them but this will test you to see how you get through this game by trying to keep your groups together. Also the dialogue for this game so far is excellent!
 
I won’t get into the leveling system as I feel that it’s something that you as a player would need to see for yourself and tune to your liking.
 
Combat-wise, there is a lot of it and to be quite honest, this could have used a bit more polish as sometimes, it’s difficult to distinguish what you are targeting and hoping that you don’t hit your friends. Pausing constantly doesn’t always work because it detracts from the flow of fighting.
 
10 Hours in, I am very satisfied with this game and I can’t wait to see the DLC the comes out for both systems particularly the PC version since there is a toolset that will keep this game going for longer than the original 80 or so hrs that it will keep us busy! So, if you haven’t done so, run out and get this game because it’s well worth it!

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