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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And another helpin' of verisimilitude!
After the endless months of hype about DA:O I was pretty sure EA was behind it all. So I did some research and inpected the case. After three months of dedicated research, it was only a matter of time before I could embrace the game package with my greasy hands. All I can say now: Time well spent!

I'm a big fan of Bioware, their ideas and creations strike at me...
Published on 18 Feb. 2010 by P. Jackson

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A shattered masterpiece - Quantity over quality.
I am quite surprised at the amount of 5 star reviews for this game; Its good but REALLY doesn't deserve any more than 3 when you look at the bad points. Ive played RPGs since they started out, this sadly, could have been one of the best if EA would have allowed bioware the time to sort the problems and test it.

i'll start with the good points.

The...
Published on 24 Sept. 2010 by Mr. R. P. J. Kitching


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And another helpin' of verisimilitude!, 18 Feb. 2010
By 
P. Jackson "Asarta" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
After the endless months of hype about DA:O I was pretty sure EA was behind it all. So I did some research and inpected the case. After three months of dedicated research, it was only a matter of time before I could embrace the game package with my greasy hands. All I can say now: Time well spent!

I'm a big fan of Bioware, their ideas and creations strike at me through every game that they make. I've played and finished NWN2 and its expansions. It had some great stories and plots but failed to deliver a true gaming experience. However, DA:O turned over a new leaf. I'll summarise the main points:

GAMEPLAY:

DA:O has brought forth a whole new RPG style, where upgrades aren't a list of numbers representing your stats but new moves, spells, tactics and other abilities. The PC version is ideal for party tactics with an overhead camera or if you prefer- first person action. When you defeat an enemy they can leave behind a number of items, from enchanted weapons to ingredients for potions and the like. Unlike other RPGs, DA:O is great for wandering as enemies, landscapes and people differ and quests are not pointless or dull. Set in a gritty world where people, monsters and odds are less forgiving than in other stories. Prepare to be faced with difficult desicions and losing major battles. You'll find yourself playing this for hours on end just to find out the different outcomes this game has.

GRAPHICS:

Personally, I prefer the graphics on the PC version but they look pretty similar on all platforms. Perhaps not the most graphically impressive game, but DA:O promises some diverse lanscapes and varying buildings. You can see where the designers haven't bothered, such as distant trees and hills which look similar to Rome:Total War's lanscapes. However, the closer up you get, buildings look almost real with crumbling brickwork and torn flags. probably the most detailed aspect of the game's graphics are the charcters in your party. Armour is shown glinting in the light or casting down shadows on dirt roads. Overall, the graphics are not incredible but provide an interesting look and feel, most importantly though is that you can see the ceiling unlike NWN2.

COMBAT:

Combat is probably the most exiting part of the game. Bioware has stopped its habit of one slash hits now providing you with special moves and abilities including explosive spells for mages. This is the closest I've seen an RPG come to an FPS without ruining the whole feel of the game. There are a vast number of different weapons to wrap your hands around from cumbersome greatswords to piercing daggers requiring dexterity and nimble fingers. You can choose from three types of fightwers: Mages who wield magic, Warriors who wield strong heavy armour and large swords and Rogues who carry light but agile armour and wield daggers which can be equiped in both hands. These are only the main three classes though, they can eventually be upgraded to berserkers, duelists and arcane warrioes and beyond that. So don't worry, there's a lot of customisation involved.

STORY:

Another one of the game's strong points, you can choose from six different Grey Wrden stories depnding on your fighter class and rank(Commoner or Noble). These stories differ greatly though and each have a different insight to the game. In each story the Grey Warden leader recruits you into his order and you save ferelden from an uprising of darkspawn. Throughout the story you come across various characters who can join your party. These characters differ in personality and not many of them have morals. The speech is a strong point in DA:O. There isn't always a good or bad side to it. Characters will be affected more by a conversation if it requires important choices and generally, they are not as predictable as they are in other RPGs. Each of the six stories finishes with a climatic ending. But there's always much, much more to do.

AI:

In most games AI enemies are pretty dumb. They attack you only from the front with one weapon and one type of move. In DA:O this is not to be. Even playing as an agile rogue, when positioning to backstab you find yourself surrounded by darkspawn. The AI make you think logically- Showering the darkspawn with fire arrows to soften them up, then send in a mighty warrior to cleave the more elite, finally backstab with a rogue whilst stunning enemies with a mage to save him time. In combat, time is crucial! AI have minds of their own and won't hesitate to strike at the heart. When in cities, the AI people will discuss in private pray to the Maker(their god) or cheering on a musician and his lute.

So don't wait for months like me, researching this game like a soulless nerd. get this sooner rather than later because you'll be missing out. This game comes to life. The desicions and gameplay involved give it a unique experience- the most unique I have ever played on the PC. DA:O's expansion 'Awakening' will soon be out and there is already a lot of downloadable content on offer. In two words,

"BUY IT!!!"
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baldur's Gate 3, 9 Nov. 2009
By 
E. Mellish - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
I love Baldur's Gate 2 and still play it through quite regularly so I was somewhat dubious at the announcement that they were making a new contender. However, so far, my fears have been unfounded. The game is innately playable, and so addictive that I sit here at work twitching, waiting to get home so I can score another hit of DA:O.

I was always of the belief that it was the NPC (computer controlled) character interaction, both with you and with each other that made BG2 what it was, so I'm glad to see that they kept that part of it alive. The characters no longer stop to chat in text boxes as before, but instead you can hear them bickering with each other as you roam the villages and cities of the world. You can swap over which characters travel with you each time you go to a new quest area and in-between times a base `Camp' can be set up (by clicking the Camp icon on the world map screen). Your own relationship with each character is determined by your responses to them during quests but also around the campfire. Additional friendly points can be gained by giving characters items labelled `gifts' found throughout the game. Obviously your relationship stats with a character is going to change how they react to you in various situations. I'm a little disappointed that you can only max out your party to 4 rather than 6, which gives it more of a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic feel than a Baldur's Gate 2 feel, but you can't have everything!

For the most part though the fights are challenging and the methodology for killing bosses constantly fluctuates. You do need to pick which party members will be travelling with you quite soon though as it seems that failure to do so will result in you being a much higher level than your helpers, and some of those boss fights are hard!

Your party shares a joint inventory which also decreases the original's dragging and dropping as you pick up items with your main character (or rogue) and then move them over to the `mule' (strength maxed character) to carry around until you reach a shop. Buying backpacks increases your inventory space by 10 slots at a time too so there should be more than enough room to go around.

The humour of the original has translated well especially in the list of responses during conversations and the bickering between characters, and it made me laugh aloud when my faithful hound brought me dirty pantaloons! I'm glad to see that the pantaloon obsession is still kicking around.

The overhead camera view also translated well; I was very worried this game would turn out to be another generic first person game (Oblivion style) or chasing overhead camera (Sacred style) but it hasn't. A few people reviewing here have mentioned that they can't get the camera view to work in their favour, but using the scroll wheel (for zoom) and the Right Mouse Button (to spin the camera) I haven't had any problems at all - and somehow the general soft `feel' of BG2 permeates the graphics.

The only bad experience I've had so far was with The Attack at Nightfall quest. The quest involves defending the village from undead but you stand and wait, attack one mob, stand and wait, attack one mob, rinse and repeat until you get called away to defend another front; then attack, attack, attack, wait and wait and wait.... Finally I went for a wander (which you're obviously not meant to do) and found that one little undead had got stuck all by himself down at the docks - the moment he was killed the quest advanced. So perhaps the AI isn't so great on the mobs after all - but as with any new game I'm sure patches will be released swiftly to deal with the outstanding issues; so I'm not too bothered by an occasional glitch.

The spells now interact; ie. grease will catch fire leaving a flaming mass behind - but to be honest I've not really experimented too much with this. There are new skill sets like trap making, poison making and alchemy - for which you gather materials, usually from outside areas, and can then craft. Disarming traps seems to use your lockpick skill and in DA:O you actually get to see what the trap is (rather than a glowing purple mass), ie. a red tripwire (which your rogue will cut) or a red bear-trap which your rogue will trigger to disarm. You do still get XP for disarming traps too which was a good thing to keep - so many other games neglect this.

Like BG2 there is no linear play line; you have a mass of areas to pick from with more opening from subsequent play. In each area there are also places you can specifically go to (ie. the Chantry board) to collect short missions for extra cash. You have a quest log to help you remember which quest you were in the middle of and which ones you have as yet to hand in - and also markers on the map which show you where you should be heading to complete the missions or hand them in, which can be incredibly helpful, especially in the larger maps. Also, like in BG2, there are often multiple ways to complete missions - even more so than before giving the game the possibility of playing the game through multiple times and never doing it quite the same.

In all: I think this game is going to have the replayability of the original. It is an addictive, immersive, fun and sometimes frustrating game which will keep your interest for hours at a time. I would very much recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed any of the games I mentioned in this review; especially BG2 and SW:KOTOR.

I hope you enjoy the game as much as I do.
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96 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Baldurs Gate 3, 1 Dec. 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
The basics of the game are that you control a party of 4 using a point and click interface in the aim of completing a single huge quest.

You start off in one of a number of starter stories based on you character type which have an affect on the way people speak to you throughout the entire game. These are possibly some of the most interesting areas as the world. The script is very tight and you are introduced to the world in an interesting and not overwhelming manner.

You are introduced to the three character types:
A rogue who does increased damage from back stabs, can open locks and does not like being attacked by large numbers of enemies. The rogue has three choices of play. To be an effective dual wielder, to be an effective archer, or to be mildly effective at both. Later they have the option to specialise becoming a ranger style with a pet or to increase their damage output.
A mage who does a large amount of damage to single or multiple enemies or indeed anyone in the area and does not like being attacked by large numbers of enemies. The mage gets the healing spells, the buff spells and the mass damage spells. Later they have the option of becoming a shape changer, a better healer, a mage/warrior, or being able to manage their mana pool more effectively.
A warrior who can be attacked by larger numbers of enemies and does some moderate damage. The warrior can become be an effective tank, slow but hard hitting two hander or a dual wielder. Later they have the option for a few more spell like abilities.
All the characters do a combination of damage, slow, stun and knockdown attacks. With a few hinder/helper skills thrown in.

After the introduction story the player can choose the order in which they tackle a handful of areas on the map. A wood, a town, a mountain top, inside a mountain. The story isn't as tight here as the areas are very self contained. This choice has one plus that I can see. It aids integrating new areas of content.

Finally there is some final stuff that I won't go into.

The game took me around 65 hours. Which involved completing most quests but not obsessively so. I read enough of the law to get a good grasp of every aspect of the world, but I was selective in my reading. Looking back I would say most of my game time was spent watching spoken dialogue scenes, micro (pause) managing fights, watching loading screens and managing the inventory.

The game took five years to complete and was started on a modified Neverwinter Nights Engine. The graphics range from very flat areas with low resolution textures, am I playing Neverwinter Night style, to a more Mass Effect style. It is all quite generic.

Now that I have described the game I will give you my thoughts.
Firstly this game is not Baldur's Gate. Not even close. This game is a LOTR, WOW, NWN, KOTR, Mass Effect hybrid. The influence from those games is heavy. From large battles in the woods vs orcs (spawn my behind, they are orcs) with a heavy orchestral score. To watching cool downs after selecting a potion. Dragon age has mixed these influences incredibly well but you will be hard pressed to find any originality.

The lore of the game is huge but not particularly complex or thought provoking. Downtrodden elves check, cast system dwarves check, mages are mistrusted check, humans are a very general race check. How many different ways can we word these ideas in conversations and law? Quite allot it seems. The effect of this lore on you is nothing more than wording. The story is your bog standard save the world. You are 'picked' and singled out by a jedi knight..I mean warden for no particular reason and that is a problem with the entire game. The world revolves around you. Party and enemy levelling and world development is set by your character.

The world is a very static place it seems. Very static. Going back into the woods after a year to see your elf kin and they are all stood in the same spot and facing the same direction as when you first arrived. The world is very linear. Choosing the order in which you visit the main areas and choosing one or three paths at a junction is as free as it gets. The NPC's are even thrown at you. In fights the mages do loads of damage and disabling and healing. The party choices really boil down to whether you have lots of mages or not, whether you have a tank or not, whether you have a rogue for locks or not. These changes are all rather obvious.

The levelling is very straightforward. Be a specific type or mix two types. If you mix say archery and dual wielding the ai does not switch with your weapon switch. Watching your archer use dual wielding ai is a pain. Apart from that with a little thought, time and experience of playing the ai can be set up to work very effectively. You can micro manage fights more effectively but that depends on whether you want to micro manage every little fight. I tended to only micro manage large fights and mainly paused to put the odd character on a preferred course of action. The Large monster battles are very satisfying and the game makes good use of them. The large numbers battles are just fiddly with dodgy walking paths, obstructions breaking your commands and your tank occasionally running 100 yards away to attack a pathetic archer...Or blitz the place with mages.

The character depth is poor. A mad person will dribble and rock, a nasty person will be blunt and uncaring. You get the usual grim determination, jocularity as a cover-up. Don't worry if you don't notice each character type. Their types will be commented enough on during the game to make doubly sure you get it. Some conversations did make me laugh or halt my mission to listen. It isn't all average.

For a large story driven game there are no insights into humanity here. No interest in psychology, sociology, philosophy. There is no character development or intriguing situations. If you annoy a member of your team or want to get laid give them a bottle of wine (several times). There is no black or white, good or bad. What there is allot of is personal gain or not, and this person did 3 bad things and 1 very good thing and that person did 2 bad things and 2 minor good things, so who shall I side with? Is that an improvement over a scale of good and evil? I'm not so sure. Shame the writers didn't take a short course on writing fiction. It would have improved the game immensely.

The models could be swapped in and out of other games and you couldn't pick them out of a line up. No lovingly hand created 2D artwork here. Just the usual factory line 3D package models.

Compared to a good book or a classic like Fallout, Planescape Torment and Baldur's Gate this game is a massive let down. Compared to the usual non Japanese rpg of the past decade such as Drakensang, Two Worlds or Gothic this game has easily leaped to the top of the pile. There is nothing specifically wrong with the game but your overall opinion will be affected heavily by your expectations. I can't help but feel this the Phantom Menace of games (without binks). There is nothing in the game that isn't above average for an rpg. So it is a must buy for any rpg fan. However once the hype has died down, the game will be remembered as an enjoyable well made rpg, rather than fondly remembered as a storytelling and roleplaying classic.

Mathematically your enjoyment will be inversely proportional to how fondly you remember "Go for the eyes Boo! Go for the eyes!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A late review, 30 Jun. 2011
By 
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
I know, it is by the standard of video games now a old one. Yet I have somehow given up RPG game since Neverwinter Nights 2. I discovered this one by accident surfing the net. Given the price by now, I decide to try it. And I must say it brings back the old magic from Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter, maybe even a little stronger.
They have given up the Forgotten Realms setting and the D&D 3.5 rules, which can give some regrets, but the new settings is a Darker, but satisfying one, and the rules keep enough of a D&D feeling so I was not troubled with that. There is all that give Baldur is success, Combat, Quest, Interactions with various NPC. I have by now completed it with the three classes (Mage, Rogue and Fighter), and I am begining a new one to try another approach with the companions. I think I will also try all the origins possibles, and I have ordered Awakenings. For me this game is another success from Bioware. I have heard Dragon Age 2 does not live to this one. Maybe I will skip it and wait for the third issue. But I am not done with this one yet.
Good plots, some nasty twistings. A great music. Good characters. And as in the final song, A brave new world. That is all is needed, and that what I got.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very engaging RPG with excelent character development, 2 Jun. 2010
By 
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
It has been a real pleasure to play DragonAge. Playing on the PC with the graphics set to high the environment and characters look very good as you would expect from a modern game.

The real differences that stand out are the combat system, video interactions and character development.
As soon as you start the game I guarantee that you will be hooked if you are a fan of RPG's. The diverse range of characters and the decisions you make to effect the gameplay is brilliant. I felt as though I was involved in the game much deeper than many other titles.

The combat system is unique, being able to switch between characters very easily, as well as set different strategies and combat tactics in multiple levels.

I would rightly recommand this game as one to definitely play once, if not many times over for the completely diverse videos and gameplay.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE RETURN TO THE AGE OF THE CLASSICS!, 3 Nov. 2009
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
First things first: in the past I have chastised EA a number of times for its release of cookie-cutter games, crippled with atrocious DRM schemes. So, in all fairness, I now have to say this: DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS IS A GAMER's DREAM! It is an excellent game - and it comes FREE of any DRM madness. So, thank you EA for listening to your customers (let's only hope this trend holds...).

This is one of those games that are easy to control, a joy to roam through and fun to play at no end.
I am a huge cRPG fan and cannot remember such a great companion/squad cRPG ever since the Baldur's Gate Saga. And to tell you the truth, this is the game I was dreaming of being able to play one day while playing BG (yeah, by now we all know that NEVERWINTER NIGHTS never delivered).

There are about a dozen gender/race/class/background choices and a great many combinations in forming your party. The armor and the weapons are exceptionally made and everything shows on your characters. And the graphics are truly beautiful! You have to see the rendering of flames to believe them.
Nevertheless, what really stands out is the gameplay. Every battle is a puzzle to be solved, pausing ever so often to reallocate enemies to the best suited party members (a feature I loved in BG!). Of course one can always turn off the autopause feature and let the AI take over the rest of your party and turn the game into an hack&slash action RPG (not exactly my cup of tea but, hey, it's still nice to know it's there).

Finally, this is a game made just like the classics in many ways, including duration. I am now playing the game for over 20 hours and I feel that I barely scraped the surface! Now DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS is one satisfying RPG!

My only gripe is this: I did not appreciate such short dialogue options. Most fit a single line and more often than not they consist of a couple of words. I like my RPGs to be wordy and challenging to my verbal imagination as well - and I want my characters to participate in the humor, not just provoke it or react to it. Remember the long dialogue options in BG? Well, expect to find DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS much more laconic.
I guess 10 years of fast-paced FPS and blitzkrieging RTS do take their toll...

The blood sprays, the swords clang and the spells explode. The animations are beautifully made and add a lot to both enjoyment and immersion. There is a verse in Homer's Iliad I love: "the warrior fell, his armor echoing around him" - and I was reminded of it many a times throughout the game.

This game will stay with you. Do not miss on it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A shattered masterpiece - Quantity over quality., 24 Sept. 2010
By 
Mr. R. P. J. Kitching "RustySlim" (Honalulululullu) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
I am quite surprised at the amount of 5 star reviews for this game; Its good but REALLY doesn't deserve any more than 3 when you look at the bad points. Ive played RPGs since they started out, this sadly, could have been one of the best if EA would have allowed bioware the time to sort the problems and test it.

i'll start with the good points.

The good
-------------------------
-The dialogue is VERY good, which considering the size of it is very, VERY impressive. I loved oblivion, but felt there were only 6-7 voice actors.
-The combat system is great I feel, been waiting to play a "proper PC RPG" like this for some time, i'm not sure it why its been so popular on consoles.
-It's HUGE. 80 hours in and i've still only explored half of the world apparently.
-It can be quite challenging when set to hard or insane mode, which thank god you can set whenever you like.
-some of the animations that kick in in some fights make it look very fresh, and don't happen often enough for you to get bored watching your charter beheading foes with a dual weapon sweep, gladiator style!
-character creation is probably the best i've EVER seen, fantastic. My elf chick actually looks bangable!!
-main story is very interesting and fresh BUT it's a shame the dark spawn (main enemies in the game) are so weak. Theres no sense of danger in much of the story. Every time you hear them say "AAAHHH!! The Darkspawn are coming!!" you're like - "oh... Why don't you tell me about yourself/how about that drink?".
-The dragons are well cool, and interesting.

The bad
-------------------------
-environments are well populated but everything feels very "placed" which often makes the experience feel quite bland and empty. Most of the people in pubs for example just stand there. No sitting/drinking/fighting - no atmosphere. That's just one example, many other parts of the game also feel unfinished.
-loading times are insanely long and happen VERY often, even with good comp.
-I have a great dual core CPU running @ 3.8ghz, and this still fully loads it.
-Even on maximum settings, the graphics suck in most areas because the textures look like they're from the old PS2 days. They've gone for quantity over quality.
-Bugs, this game is littered with them. Quests remain unsolvable as characters disappear, rewards are often not given, you'll end up stuck outside of the play area, skills don't have any effect (around 4 of my skills so far are useless).
-DLC is FAR too buggy and complicated. took me around 4 hours to get my 1st one working, and Shales skills still don't work.
-EA are involved, so you KNOW there's going to be no customer service, no patches or updates that work propperly, driver issues etc etc.
-Conversations are often very drawn out. This would be one of the 1st RPGs where ive not wanted to hear what everyone has to say.
-i've ran out of time writing this review... this list could unfortunately go on.

With all those bad points how can anyone rate the game 5stars??? Still enjoyable i guess if you have 150+ hours, but id say if you don't have 6 hours for gaming every night for the nest 2 months, play another better game.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Impressively huge with solid combat, but weak writing lets down the game, 19 Jun. 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
Dragon Age: Origins is BioWare's reflective look at their own origin (so to speak). It's a big, broad, swords and sorcery epic meant to evoke memories of the Baldur's Gate series, where BioWare got started in RPGs. It's also in 3D, with streamlined controls, inventory management and in-engine cut-scenes. It's BioWare's attempt to blend their original, more hardcore RPGs with their later, stripped-back and more cinematic games like the Mass Effect series. It's a game that tries to balance the old with the new and does not quite succeed.

Which is not to say it doesn't have a go. The game is huge, taking upwards of 50 hours to complete. Cleverly, the game reorganises its opening two hour prologue based on your race and class: a dwaven noble starts in a separate location to a human mage, with a totally different cast of supporting characters, enemies and opening quests. The fact that you can replay the game several times and get a different opening, with the various versions not aligning until you reach Ostagar, is quite clever and rewards replaying the game. Indeed, the choices in these sections reverberate throughout the whole game, with your eventual return to your starting location allowing you to address unfinished business. It's the game's main selling point and is something that is handled very well, making it all the more bemusing that the concept was completely chucked out the window for the two sequels.

As is traditional with BioWare games, your main character is fully customisable but the supporting cast are set in stone. You can accumulate up to ten companion characters throughout the course of the game and take three of them with you on missions. Your inactive party members hang out at a campsite you can periodically visit to exchange information, form friendships (and even romantic relationships) and improve everyone's equipment. The game has a reputation system for each character, and winning their trust will give you bonuses in combat and open up additional questlines. It's a nice idea but also one that's easy to neglect. The game also treats morally ambiguous sorceress Morrigan and sarcastic warrior Alistair as almost the secondary main characters, each with huge roles to play in the endgame, which is rather bizarre if you've just gone through 95% of the game favouring other characters instead. All of the companion characters are nicely-developed, though it's far from the strongest cast BioWare have produced for a game and some self-derivation can be detected: Shale is awesome, for example, but feels a little too reminiscent of Knights of the Old Republic's HK-47.

You spend the game doing what you usually do in a BioWare games: a broad variety of quests, varying from the mundane to the epic, and getting into lots of conversations and fights. A lot of fights: you seem to spend the overwhelming majority of the game in combat, and violence seems to be the solution to almost every problem in the game. There's a few quests based on diplomacy and dialogue, and a few fights can be avoided through intimidating or persuading the enemy, but otherwise be prepared to do a ton of fighting. Fortunately, the old 'hit space to pause' option is still present and correct, allowing you to assign orders to characters and take stock of the battle as it develops. A quickbar allows easy access to abilities, spells and weapons. Combat is generally satisfying, although health spells feel a little weak (at high level they restore so few hit-points it's almost not worth bothering with them). The biggest weakness is positioning: enemy units can clip or shove past your units with ease, making it impossible to create bottlenecks in corridors and engage the enemy with warriors whilst wizards and ranged fighters engage from afar. This seriously limits tactical options and can make fighting large numbers of tough enemies particularly difficult. Some abilities also feel overpowered: the enemy's ability to encase your characters in null-magic zones where healing magic simply does not work can result in total party wipe-outs all too easily.

In technical terms, the game is okay. Graphically it looks solid on PC (but a bit washed-out on consoles) and mods are available to improve textures further. The game is a bit flaky on multi-core PCs but runs fine if you assign it to run on just one core. Camera control is a bit of an issue: the PC version allows you to play the game from an overhead viewpoint (reminiscent of Neverwinter Nights except, bizarrely for a seven years-newer game, far less customisable) but you can't zoom out very far, and enemies often engage you from outside this viewing range. Switching to the over-the-shoulder view (which the consoles are limited to) is great for spotting distant enemies and engaging them at range, but is useless for melee. You can switch between them easily enough, but it feels a bit annoying you can't stay in the viewpoint you favour throughout the game. The overhead view also sometimes seems to get confused on whether it should be 'locked onto' your selected character or allowing you to free-roam.

The writing is a mixed bag. A lot of dialogue in the game is obvious, expositionary and risible, not helped by severely variable voice acting (Claudia Black is the standout as Morrigan). There are attempts at nuanced characterisation - key villain Loghain has his reasons for doing what he's doing, though he's such an unrepentant martinet that most players will feel zero sympathy for him - but they mostly fall flat. The game also makes a nod towards gritty realism through its political infighting and bloody combat, though the game goes completely over-the-top with your characters walking out of fights covered head-to-foot in gore. The political angle also doesn't work very well due to the politics being rather boring and it's difficult to care about Ferelden when you spend most of the game hearing about how isolationist and racist it is, riven by internal conflicts with few genuinely good people in positions of authority.

Despite the clunky writing, poor camera controls and focus on violence as the solution to just about everything, the game just about manages to keep its head above water. It's satisfyingly huge and the worldbuilding is derivative (a mash-up of standard fantasy tropes with more than a bit of inspiration from George R.R. Martin) but somewhat interesting. The differing opening sections of the game give some good replay value. Combat is solid if unspectacular. There's a germ of a really good game here, but there's also an overwhelming feeling of blandness and predictability that rears its head all too often.

Dragon Age: Origins (***½) is a very solid game from BioWare, although it's self-reflection on BioWare's past is rather pointless: the Baldur's Gate series is still extremely playable and frankly on almost every front bar the technical one are better games than Dragon Age. For those simply after a big, enjoyable fantasy RPG, Dragon Age certainly fits the bill. Its ambition is impressive and even in failing to fully achieve it, it's still very playable and worth a look.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 1 Sept. 2011
By 
H. Lancashire - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
This game offers it all:
- Plot, plot, plot - The game is all about progressing towards the final battle, there are set overarching quests for the Humans, Mages, Elves and Dwarves, but you choose the order and the outcomes.
- Beautiful scenery - You travel through werewolf infested forests, small lake-side villages and great dwarven cities, but don't expect particularly high quality textures.
- Real replay value - Due to the variable outcomes and choice of opening story (which change dialogues throughout the game) it is worth coming back to play this game again and again.
- Conversation - Bioware are good at this, the voice acting is done well, and it is worth talking to each character, you can pick up quests from your companions.
- Gameplay - Controlling a band of 4 can seem daunting for beginners, but the default tactics take care of everything (if you want to open up the tactics dialogue you can set up very particular actions dependent upon environment conditions), you can play tactically, pause regularly and control each character individually, or charge in in real time with one character and let the other's get on with it.
- Expandable - The expansions are a mixed bunch, but I particularly recommend Leliana's Song and The Stone Prisoner. All told you could probably add 1/3 again in extra game time (which can easily run to 60 hours without expansion).

On the downside the game was rather buggy on 64-bit OSs until more recent patches (I have had no problems with the "Ultimate Edition" on Windows 7 64-bit).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not Baldur's Gate but definitely fun!, 8 Aug. 2011
By 
Cazzandra (Guildford UK) - See all my reviews
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
I found the camera angle extremely irritating to start with and hard to control. I thought the cut scenes would drive me to distraction. However, I eventually got the hang of the camera and I learned to live with the vids so that they became part of the experience. They do faithfully mirror your party.

I love the camaraderie. I did care what happened to the NPCs, I liked giving them presents, listening to their hopes and fears and I didn't like doing things that upset them. However, there is far more of a temptation to swap party members than there is in BG probably because you can only have a party of 4. I'd rather have a party of 6. I liked the ability to have a proper camp and merchants readily available there though for some reason the amount I can carry being dictated by count rather than weight really annoyed me! I found getting enough gold the first time through extremely difficult but the second attempt seems to have delivered a lot more! I think because I was tempted to hang on to things more the first time through. One of the useful aspects of DA is that you can compare equipment very easily with whatever a character is wearing. This makes decisions about what to sell very easy.

The main story is quite linear. There are masses of side plots which it is quite difficult to remember without the use of the journal. I never did quite work out how to manage the codex. I found to start with that dying was incredibly easy and I ended up putting the game on the easiest level as I like the to play in real time.

I'm not sure if I will play it time and time again as I do BG - I think that will depend on how dedicated a community it develops and what the mods do. But I did find it fun and I did buy Awakening because I enjoyed DAO so much.

There are a few bugs still but I only had one crash running it on Windows 7 and that was a single instance of a crash to desktop (CTD) which Windows 7 managed gracefully. I've had no issues either adding DLC either via coupons or paid for.

Anyone who enjoyed the Baldur's Gate series and the early releases of Neverwinter Nights (NWN) will likely enjoy this. I've tried and failed to complete Sacred, all subsequent versions of NWNs and just about every other rpg that isn't Elder Scrolls or Fallout. But this one really did keep me entertained and the story is fun. It has certainly filled the void while I wait for Skyrim!
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Dragon Age: Origins (PC)
Dragon Age: Origins (PC) by Electronic Arts (Windows Vista / XP)
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