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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baldur's Gate 3
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...
Published on 9 Nov. 2009 by E. Mellish

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.

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

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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
E. Mellish - See all my reviews
= 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 And another helpin' of verisimilitude!, 18 Feb. 2010
P. Jackson "Asarta" (London) - See all my reviews
= 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:


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.


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 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.


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.


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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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
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
= 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.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good, 27 Feb. 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
Hello fellows...

Well... This was a game I very nearly didn't buy at all, i'm not a big fan of RPG's (Role Playing Games) as they generally tend to get repetative and boring. Most of them base their entire hook value on how you grow as a character, adding 1 point to stamina, fighting a bit adding another point to mana, finding new armor and comparing it to your other armor and finding it mildly better so you fit it, learn new spells, maybe request the assistance of little creatures to fight along side you etc.

But this game is... Ahhh exactly the same as above... (-_-)"

It pretty much epitamises all RPG's, but it actually works really well. The story so far is pretty good, I haven't actually played it for over a couple of weeks (I have phases) but I can remember all the key stages in the story so far... Graphics are nice, convo's are interesting (Miles above the majority of other RPG's i've played before. i.e. The Eldar Scrolls - Oblivion YUCKKKKKK! That bored me to death so much)game play is challenging, occasionally too hard, but it's ok you can adjust the difficulty mid game, combat is good, (not great) as Human Warrior Class so far, but there is a nice feel about combat controls, and the combats are consistently challenging (50 hours in), which is nice there's a heap to talk about and I won't so whatever, but the end message is gonna be the same... The game is good, really good when it comes to RTS's but, and I will stand by this forever... "I Hate! this continuous nonsense about having to chuck things away when you pick up something new and the inventory is full..." I have probably spent a 3rd of the game swapping abotu junk from character to character just so I can take what I want and fundamentally need untill the next tradesman... And unfortunately it sucks to sell a bunch of crap you potentialy could have used when your chars have the skills, but you can't cos you need to make space in your inventory for more crap. I want a bank or somethign where i can store all the interesting stuff I have picked up, but since there isn't one (so far) I have to pick up, study, if I like, I search throug my stuff and take or detroy items so I can jsut carry on with the game...

That's the only downside, besides that it's really nice = )
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky characters, fascinating storyline... an excellent return of the Western RPG genre., 25 Feb. 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
I'm one of those kinds of people who will avoid games, no matter what they are, if they induce some sort of hype. I feared mindless, violent convention over plot and character development. It took a friend of mine to place the object in my hands so I could give it a try - and reluctantly, I did so.

Where my week went is beyond me. But blimey. What a game.

You can choose how your character looks, speaks and their race and class, which has a profound effect on the gameplay. The dialogue for me, is fairly exciting as a result and I had a lot of fun merely mixing and matching to see what other characters had in store - and some of which are hilarious. Whilst you travel, at times, your companions talk amongst themselves, bringing to light their personalities and agendas, which are always interesting to listen to while you're running around trying to solve the Feralden's troubles.

Swooping is bad.

What hooked me from the beginning was the intricate storyline. Though strict in terms of what you can do within it, the plot is interesting, fascinating and exciting. Up front, the game does almost exactly what it says on the tin - and it just keeps bringing more and more for your enjoyment. Some things in the plot are far more obvious than others, but I think it had enough to challenge the player into picking unpredictables within the plot. It's not a deep or a cuddly plotline, but it enables you to sink your teeth into it - and whether you're a gamer buff or a fantasy lover, you can make what you will of it. There is some originality in this - and the dark fantasy genre is thrilling to experience - and for once, the dwarves are not pink-cheeked, knights and heroes are mislead and the mages don't wear pointy hats.

I won't go into deeper detail, since there are many who have already done so, but like Oblivion, The Witcher or Assassin's Creed, all one can do is just give it a try. You might find yourself surprised...

Did I mention swooping is bad?
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 8 Nov. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
Dragon Age is a great game marred by only a few (but serious) design flaws and broken mechanics;
Positives. It's typical Bioware fare, so;
-the dialogue is mostly excellent
-there's about 80-100 hours of play time here
-the production values are as high as they get
-the battle tactics mechanics (manually set, see below) are great fun once you have a powerful mage or two in your party to open up your options
-possibly the most fleshed out background fiction in any game
-the greatest example in gaming of making player's choices affect the world and change the outcome - by the time I hit the credits i felt like I had played through MY own story in MY own world that few other players would share, the game makes you feel like you have your own impact on the world (something Bioware have been trying for a long time, but it works better here than in any other game)

Which makes the flaws all the more frustrating;
-Scripted tactics settings feel unreliable; set up party member's tactics to auto-attack the weakest enemy and they'll all run to different enemies that all have full health ignoring the enemy with half health standing in their midst, so the scripted section of the tactics go out the window and you always manually pause to set up tactics second-to-second (which is a more fun way to play it anyway, really).

-Injuries system feels mostly broken. The idea here is that you receive certain specific injuries (fractured skull, gaping wound etc) and they each affect a stat in a certain negative way. Fine, except that the injury kits you need to heal these are beyond rare; in my first 12 hours of play of looting every body and every container i came across i had one. The result is that for many hard boss battles my party had completely debilitating injuries that lower your stats, which brings me on to;

-Difficulty; I'll say it first, I like difficult games, games that make you think about how to use the game mechanics to overcome the situation. Here though, it's entirely inconsistent. You can go into some battles on hard difficulty then go into the next on easy and find no real difference. Be prepared to back track and double back-back track when you come up against a tough boss fight to do other quests in other parts of the world until you have the XP to go back to tackle them.

-Purchasable DLC is marketed to you in a downright distasteful way. Sometimes you'll encounter an NPC in the world at your camp that will ask you to take on a quest for them. Fine, but selecting the option to accept takes you to the EA/Bioware website for you to enter your payment details to buy that quest as DLC.
Keep that element OUTSIDE of the game, don't ruin the immersion and atmosphere by taking me out of the setting to market something to me like that.

That looks like a lot of negatives compared to the positives, but this is still one of the finest RPGs there has ever been with some thoroughly engrossing and immersive gameplay, visuals and story. The more I play it the more I begin to think it's worth two or three times the asking price. Just be prepared to sweat a bit at some points.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Immersive, 27 Dec. 2009
James Geary "Jagger" (London) - See all my reviews
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
A wizards and warriors type fantasy game. RPG with leveling and interesting equipment.
A huge world with 'choose your own adventure book' type plot but where the overall plot is fairly linear. A long game which struck me being as almost as much movie as PC game. I started explaining the 'plot/story' so far to a friend of mine but it was so much more involved than a movie plot I eventually gave up. The game rewards tactical cleverness in fights, and the sheer array of cool combat and spell options means there are many clever techniques to be discovered. There are almost no annoying glitches or irritating interface faults. It is flawless in terms of camera control and control of the characters. In combat you can press space to pause everything and scroll about with the camera while you decide what commands to stack up with each character, and at these moments you really notice how beautiful the graphics are, with looks of anguish as people get struck or caught on fire or tripped up. I became quite emotionally involved with some of the characters, more than a a film.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark RPG, 15 Nov. 2009
J. Hotchkiss - See all my reviews
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
It's rather telling when the negative reviews of this game can only muster complaints about it lacking some AD&D items (it's entirely divorced from AD&D, so this should not be a surprise), or that the graphics aren't photorealistic.

As a Bioware fan, I had high expectations of this game - after all, it's hard to top some of their existing classics. Nonetheless, DAO has gone far beyond my expectations. It draws you in and makes you want to keep playing; it combines the compelling story-telling & branching decisions that Bioware is famous for (KOTOR, Mass Effect etc) with a subtle and fairly diverse combat system that enables many different approaches to be taken. The different origin stories alone offer enormous replay value, as revisiting the game offers a different experience depending on who you are playing.

There is always room for complaint and any game will always have something lacking or that doesn't quite meet one's own personal tastes. The balance of combat is sometimes a little awkward, and I would argue it is one's second playthrough that will be most rewarding, after you've learnt what works well together and what doesn't, what skills need heavy investment to be effective, and so on. It certainly forces you to think - no mere mindless hack'n'slash, this game. The branching decisions are impressive and occasionally far-reaching, but sometimes degenerate into 'pick good or bad' rather than the shades of grey one might get from say, The Witcher. If anything, some aspects of the game are too subtle, which might explain why some people have called the game short - it's fairly easy to miss some opportunities. Equally however one could argue that this is a key aspect of the RPG genre - the ability to replay the game and discover new things.

In terms of graphics and sound, the feel sometimes is a little generic - I swear there is a single identical set of wolf sounds that every RPG and MMORPG has used since time immemorial, and you can only see the same door & wall textures so many times before thinking that there's more money to be made in setting up a decorating company than all this hero business - yet you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled onto the set of Baldur's Gate after a major rewrite - despite the genericity of some aspects, it really is done well; it oozes that sense of old-style RPG where men are men, dwarves are dwarves, and elves seem to always get a raw deal.

Nothing seems out of place and the graphics are beautiful to behold, along with being quite messy - blood is most definitely a part of the game and I actually found the approach quite refreshing - it seems far more honest to acknowledge that when you hit someone with a sword, it's fairly likely blood goes everywhere... The background sounds, the combat, the clash and thud of sword on shield, the yells of victory and cries of the dying - it all feels right. It all stems from what Bioware call stylised realism. It's not realistic, but it's close enough and styled in a way that actually feels more real than reality, and that to me is far superior as entertainment goes. Given the rating, I was mildly surprised more adult topics were not touched on in the way that, say, The Witcher goes about it, which demonstrated that such things can be broached without seeming gratuitous or out of place, but what's there works well.

The story, immersion & dialogue is where the game really shines. There is some really great humour in the game, including some subtle lampoons which manage to be funny without ruining immersion (such as other RPGs that included Monty Python references etc.). Characters are well-developed and come across uniquely - the star-studded voice casting helps enormously with this. Despite a few shortcomings in the actual decisions you get to make, you really feel like you're talking to a living breathing person, who can be hurt or pleased by the things you say. It's one of the few RPGs (and pretty much all the others were also Bioware creations) where I stand a chance of getting emotionally involved in the game, rather than playing as a detached entity.

In summary, if you enjoy RPG games, if you find yourself occasionally toying with taking Baldur's Gate off the shelf again, get this game. Even if you don't, you might find this converts you to the genre. Bioware at its best.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 14 Dec. 2009
B. J. J. Earl "Lord General" (Seaford, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PC) (Video Game)
I have read a number of different reviews about this game in the gaming press and on-line. Some were not that complimentary and not being a hardened RPG player I was in two minds whether to purchase Dragon Age : Origins. I am glad that I did. The story is very detailed and if you study the Codex (which is a form of Book of Knowledge which you add to as you play) the history and the characters have some very detailed backgrounds. This all adds to the depth of the adventure and the characters you meet are at times intrigueing and in some cases you find yourself becoming very attached to them. Just the same as in any good film it has more of an impact if you like the characters and you begin caring about what happens to them. There are real touches of humour (check out the elderly sister of the chantry at Denerim who chooses her own version of the Chant - hilarious)and some moments of real pathos. On the whole it is a very immersive game world and you will want to savour it slowly. Graphically it is not a big leap forward and there are some rather rediculous fights when you could use more people in your party to even up the fight a little but you are restricted to four party members. On occasions it will be 4 against about 15 or 20 which seems a bit too much. Otherwise I like this game a great deal and I know when I have finished it I will want to play it again.
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Dragon Age: Origins (PC)
Dragon Age: Origins (PC) by Electronic Arts (Windows Vista / XP)
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