Customer Review

96 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Baldurs Gate 3, 1 Dec 2009
By 
= 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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Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Dec 2009 14:59:18 GMT
jamo says:
That last paragraph made me think back to the good times. nice touch.

Posted on 21 Dec 2009 00:37:54 GMT
A damning review and yet you gave it four stars?

I appreciate how well thought out your review was, I was just confused by the end mark.

Posted on 22 Dec 2009 20:58:29 GMT
Scyzek says:
Perfect review!

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Dec 2009 02:22:37 GMT
Dan says:
I wasn't trying to trash the game. I was trying to convey the complete lack of creative spark amongst a well made rpg. I was trying to convey that the well made part is largely down to a direct inheritance of already proven popular ideas from other recent fantasy films and games. No risks, no twists, no surprises. Polished, well made entertainment that has the complete formula to make a game of high quality while lacking anything that would make it special.

Posted on 5 Jan 2010 21:50:37 GMT
R. B. Jones says:
Great review. Thanks!

Posted on 8 Feb 2010 16:45:04 GMT
Dancer says:
This is the best review I've seen. It's a really fun game, massively worth the £16, throughly enjoyed it, but it just doesn't have enough dimensions to give any replayability.

Played it, loved it, forgot it.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 10:34:33 BDT
Very interesting review. Thanks - definitely makes me think more than twice whether or not I would wanna 1) even buy the game and 2) find time to play it once bought. These are two (to me logic) criterias for buying games, as everything has become so cheap today that we can afford to buy more games than we actually have hours available for. Thanks !

Posted on 4 Apr 2010 17:26:23 BDT
Anonymous says:
Awesome review! Thanks. Go for the eyes, Boo!....Love it.... "You point, I punch."

Posted on 17 May 2010 21:30:27 BDT
Erwin Heiser says:
Spot on this review, it's not a bad game but not the classic some game sites would have you believe it is.
hhmmm, maybe it's time to dig up those BG2 CD's :)

Posted on 29 May 2010 13:26:15 BDT
D. Stenvall says:
Far better review then what you read in most magazines or online nowadays. You should maybe mentioned a few more of the up sides of the games to justify your score, but i agree overall. And the last line made me laugh :)
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