By Sam Coles:
As well as Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins is a game that is very personal to me as it got me through a dark and depressing period of my life. I was 17 years old and my A-levels were getting the better of me when I picked the game up from my local Blockbuster (Yes they were still a thing back then), where I saw it sat on the shelf. I picked it up impulsively without knowing anything about the game at all; I knew it was made by Bioware who made Mass Effect as there was only one game in that series as the second had yet to come out. I was enamoured with this world where I was the hero and people relied on me for help, I felt I was accomplishing something in this game.
Dragon Age: Origins takes place in the kingdom of Ferelden, where there is a dark force on the horizon known as the Darkspawn. The Grey Wardens are the only ones who have the knowhow of defeating these creatures, Duncan the current leader of the Wardens is on the lookout for new members as the citizens of Ferelden have ignored the warnings of the Grey Wardens. What is unique is that you have different introductions for each race you pick hence the “Origins” part in the title, but after that the games story generally stays the same with some of hand references to your character’s background. The story is amazing with loveable and very hateable characters as they are well written, where you loath or really care about certain characters, where you form bonds or disgust for different characters.
The gameplay is very familiar if you have played Knights of the Old Republic, where you control a party of warriors which you can switch between at any time to change their abilities or attacks. Combat is generally sedate on normal and you don’t have to use too many tactics, as you can generally get away with just using your character; however when you switch to hard or nightmare mode you have to be on your toes and start using your brain.
When you journey through the kingdom you’ll find new party members such as the lustful Morrigan to the charismatic Alistair. They are all unique with great abilities; my advice is to have at least one mage in your party as they have some devastating area of effect attacks.
The presentation honestly has not aged well, to be fair this game came out eight years ago and this was a period where developers were getting to grasp with the Xbox 360 and PS3 still. The environments can look nice in some places, but can look bland, blurry and washed out in other areas. Character models look pretty bad with stiff animations, it looks as if someone stuck a pole up their backside in some scenes, but they do animate well in scripted cutscenes rather than in game conversations.
Dragon Age: Origins is a wonderful game and is one of my favourite games of all time, if you haven’t played it do it! It is super cheap these days and you can play it on Xbox One via backwards compatibility, but you can get on PS3 and for the superior controlling version get it on the PC.