Monday, November 9, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins

I have now spent almost a week with Dragon Age Origins, and while I have not completed the game yet, I can say this is not the best Fantasy RPG ever made, it is just a tribute. Much like the Fallout series was the spiritual successor to Wasteland, technically superior, but not resonating with you in the way the original does (who doesn’t love Hobo Dogs and nuke worshipping cultists?). Dragon Age: Origins is the same to Baldur’s Gate. While the wise-ass remarks of Alister and Morrigan (voiced by Claudia Black) are entertaining, it just doesn’t hit home in the same way Minsc’s off the cuff insanity did.

That isn’t to say this is a bad game, it is good, remarkably good. Of course any game that starts out with Tim Curry killing your family and being a complete and total dick that you swear to hunt down and kill gets a thumbs up from me.

The graphics are excellent, and the voice acting is superb. Only Batman: Arkham Asylum has had better voice acting. Which is good, you spend a lot of time talking in this game. The only problem with the voice sound is that during cut scenes when there is a sudden shift in perspective, some times the voice cuts out or goes almost too quiet to hear.

Environmental sounds are excellent and put to good use. Even using the two speakers on my TV alone (through the HDMI hookup) I could tell where approaching individuals were by the sound they made.

The tactics system is also very good. You can micro-manage your characters actions, ala’ Baldur’s Gate, but it really draws out the battles. The better way is to set your parties tactics. It is basically an in-game tool for scripting AI. You set parameters, actions, and priorities for each character in combat, or use one of the default sets.

For example, I’m playing a heavily armored berserker I want Loriana, my main thief/bard, to attempt to flank and backstab whomever I attack, that can be set in tactics. I want to control a spellcaster’s spell choice, set through tactics, I only want certain characters to hand back and snipe, set through tactics. I want someone to charge at the most powerful enemy on the screen, hit with their most damaging special attack and then run away when they drop to 25% health and chug a potion, set through tactics. Other party based RPGs need to look at this tactics system and copy it, it is that good.

So go get Dragon Age: Origins, easily worth your video game money.

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