14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A triumph of story over game engine.,
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This review is from: Dragon Age: Origins (PS3) (Video Game)
I have to confess that I came to this game late. In fact, it was immediately after sinking countless hours into Skyrim. Consequently I have some sympathy for the reviewers here who claim it's nothing like Skyrim. They're correct, it's an entirely different game ethos. It's not like any Bethesda game, nor is it like Dragon Age II in any other way than the lore. I had such a shock transition that at first I didn't like it at all. But something told me this game had hidden depths and I'm so glad I stuck with it. As with my other reviews, I'll try to give a female gamer slant to things.
What really shines in DA:O is the writing. The story is rich, full of political intrigue, backstabing, rich well developed companions and the best romance system in any RPG I've ever played (and I'm not talking about the sex scenes which admittedly are a bit comical at times). The combat is a bit clunky, the codex is badly designed for the quantity of wonderful lore that you collect, and the graphics are sub-par even when taking it's age into account. All of that is forgivable because of the writing.
Story? You design a character (can be female wahey!) and then pick an origin. This means you have several different locations and stories with which to start the game. A human noble starts in a castle with a story of political backstabbing. A Mage starts with a magic test in a demon realm. A dwarf starts undergound in a huge dwarven city. I think there are seven possibilties in total. My personal favourites were elven female mage, romancing Leliana and a human female noble, romancing Alistair (possibly one of the most rewarding romance options - I won't spoil it but I recommend being a human noble with high persuasion skill).
Romance? Deep, complicated enough that there are a few bugs with the approval system, well written, satisfying and best of all, very immersive. Bioware at it's best. Unlike DA:II you have to work at romances here and you can mess them up permanently if you say/do the wrong thing. As it should be really.
Story? Tons of lore, an engaging main quest with many branches, emotional well written endings of which there are many, determined by your choices throughout the game.
Loot? Good. You get to choose what your companions wear. Some of the mage gear, especially the headwear is a bit on the dorky side.
Game mechanics. You could write pages on the problems with the game mechanics from spell animations that stop you seeing anything (try having blood magic and arcane shield active at the same time). As a rogue I was constantly trying to position myself to get a good backstab position which was really clunky.
DLC (not included in this version).
Soldiers Peak. Short dungeon, but it does give you a party storage chest which really should be in the base game, and also some armour and blood mage robes depending on decisions you make. There's also a new ability to unlock.
Shale. Nice quirky new companion, couple of new dungeons to explore.
Awakening. Whole new map, main quest, side quests, loot, bossing people around, new companions. Nice extension to the main game.
Witch Hunt. More new dungeons but the ending lacks resolution.
There are also various add-ons like Feastday pranks which whilst worth having, are probably not worth paying for unless you want to play around with the in-game approval system.
So in summary, if you like a roleplaying game with a deep involving story with lots of lore and aren't too fussy about the game engine or pretty graphics, then this is a must-have.