WARNING: If you decide to play Dragon Age: Origins, you must take your calendar and rip out the entire January page, because you won’t have the time (or desire) to do anything else.
Dragon Age: Origins is a PC game that came out last year from Bioware, EA Games (the creators of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2). It’s an RPG, which means that you customize your character at the beginning of the game, and the choices you make during dialogue and game play affect the outcome. Set in Ferelden, a medieval land with magic and lots of undead, this game is the best kind of addicting.
The beginning and end of the story changes with the decisions each player makes, but the main storyline is the same: your character is asked to become a prestigious Grey Warden to fight off armies of undead darkspawn. This task is only complicated by treason going on all throughout Ferelden, and things start looking very hopeless when darkspawn overrun the Grey Warden’s headquarters. Your character gains friends along the journey that join your fight – you may choose three to remain in your party and travel with you, while the others rest at camp. You can unlock different quests, which require everything from straight-up fighting, to mind puzzles, to meeting quirky characters, to calling on information that you’ve learned about Ferelden. Many different plots unfurl at once, allowing players to visit different lands if they get stuck or bored. Dragon Age: Origins is largely a strategy game that calls for a lot of critical thinking and decision making.
I give this game perfect scores across the board. The graphics are quite good, and I was always anxious to travel to new lands to admire the scenery (everything from magical forests to underground metropolises). Actually, I wasn’t only excited about the scenery: with every new location, players are introduced to rich back stories about the religion of the dwarves, elfish craftsmanship, the origin of the werewolf curse – and even the personal histories of your companions. The dialogue is spot-on. Every character is so endearing that you’ll have a hard time picking only three of them to keep in your party.
From speaking with my friends, it seems on average that it’s taken them about 70+ hours to beat. By engaging in entertaining side quests and downloadable content, you can stretch game play much longer, too. I selected ‘easy’ and I still found most of it very challenging. This is well worth its money, and since recreating a different character (choosing a male human mage instead of a female elf rogue) impacts the plot, a replay might be just as exciting as the first time around.
Dragon Age: Origins is rated M(17+) for mature. It received that rating primarily for violence, mature themes, and some language; however, I’d say it’s suitable for anyone high school and above. I’m a real baby about that stuff and I didn’t find anything overly-disturbing.
The sequel is set to be released in only a couple of months. I strongly recommend giving yourself ample time to finish the first one (have I mentioned it’s rather addicting?), and then rushing out to the store like a maniac to purchase the second. Good luck, fellow Wardens, and happy gaming!
Christine O’Neill usually does movie reviews, but this game was so mind-blowingly good she just had to get the word out.