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Published on May 22nd, 2011 | by Charlie

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Have You Played… – Dragon Age: Origins

“Have You Played…” is a weekly segment on asking gamers if they have played the game in question. It’s similar to “Do You Remember?”, but it looks at current generation games, no matter what platform they are on (as long as they are also on the Xbox 360)! The segment basically asks you if you have played it, so it gets you involved. If you have not played the game, at the same time, Charlie (or in this week’s, Jake) will give his score on how badly this needs to be played and if it’s for you. The segment is also for games good, or bad, so this segment will either tell you to play a game, or tell you to keep away.

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For the final “Have You Played…” of this series, the article is written by Nave360 reader, Jake Livak.

I have to admit the first time I tried Dragon Age: Origins I was sceptical at best.  I wasn’t a fan of fantasy games when I first tried it, still recovering from playing and then rage quitting WoW. But after playing it, multiple times, I can now say it was one of the best games I have ever played, even better than Mass Effect in my opinion. Dragon Age is the fantasy franchise from favoured game developer Bioware, who specialize in story driven narratives.  This is one of the things which Origins excelled at so much, choices. From the beginning you choose your class, race, and gender, which itself is a huge game changer depending on which you choose.  It doesn’t only change your origin, but who hates you, who you can befriend, and etc. Dragon Age Origins takes place in the fantasy land of Ferelden.  The once peaceful land is now being ravaged by a near unstoppable force called the Darkspawn.  The Darkspawn where always a known threat, but as time goes by and they stay living deep underground people have started to forget the Darkspawn threat along with the sacrifices of the Gray Wardens?, the warriors whose sole task is to protect Ferelden in case of another Darkspawn Blight.

Is that a monkeys face?

This is where you come in, you must leave your past behind and join the ranks of the Gray Wardens in hopes of saving Ferelden.  Of course in classic Bioware style you don’t do this alone, you can recruit a wide variety of characters each with their own skills and personalities.  This brings depth into gameplay, you can choose who to befriend, who to become enemies with, and who to pursue a relationship with. One thing that many people have considered a downfall in Origins is that your character is not voiced.  I believe that your character not having a voice is what makes Origins such a great game.  Unlike Mass Effect and other games where you pretty much play someone else?s story out, in Dragon Age you choose your own story, and build it up.  You play as yourself and you really can get an attachment to your character which you just can’t get in other games. The combat is a good blend of fast paced action and strategy.  It may not be as fast as a hack ?n slash game, but it is a very good blend.  In combat you can control either your character or any of your 3 party members; the rest will be controlled by AI.  As far as attacking goes you simply select the enemy that you want to attack and then your character will auto attack him.  This is the simple part, the complex part is using all of your, and your party members, abilities to your advantage.  You need to strategically plan out which abilities to use and when, this is especially important when playing on a higher difficulty setting. There are 3 varying classes in the game, the Warrior, Mage, and Rouge.  The Warrior is your all around fighter, able to use nearly all weapons, and either be a large damage giver or receiver.  The Mage is what you would expect, able to cast damaging spells, buffs and debuffs, traps, and heal and revive allies.  The mage skill tree in this game is very diverse allowing many different paths for mages to take.  Finally the Rouge, a rouge wields dual daggers (or later upgradable to dual swords) or a bow.  Besides a rouge being able to stealth, he is also able to open locked chests and doors, along with disarm traps.

So electrifying.

If nothing else, the reason anyone should play origins is because it really gives you a sense of emotion.  The game does a great job as far as knowing other characters back stories, their problems, and really just getting you to not only relate to, but also care about all the characters.  This is specifically important in the plot for Origins.  Besides the blight, you are also out for revenge, a plot around vengeance really just doesn’t work well in most games because you don’t actually feel attached to who died or who had something happen to them, so you honestly don’t care the much about it.  Unlike most games, Origins introduces you to said “unnamed” character and through the beginning of the game, you start to befriend him and learn more about him.  So the quest for vengeance is actually justified and you feel, not because the game makes you, but as a player, inclined to get revenge. Even the world is great and creates some great atmosphere.  First off, Dragon Age isn’t an open world game like Fallout; you have certain locations you can go to inside the world.  This may not give the vast feeling as some games do, but what it does excel at is creating great atmosphere.  All the locations just mould together, from the vast forests, to the giant city in a mountain, it all fits together to create a great and varying world which you want to explore and know more about. The last thing I am going to touch on is the variety of party members available.  They really do a great job of having different characters with different personalities.  There is the religious, cheerful girl, the badass tall and quiet guy, or the drunken dwarf!  Of course there are at least 5 other party members available, one of which being a dog.  Though, I really like how Bioware doesn’t force these characters upon you, throughout the game you can choose to instead of recruit, kill, at least 4 of your possible party members, probably more.
Every game has a spider or two…. or three…. or hundreds…
One of the downfalls is that you can easily win over any party member just by giving them a lot of free gifts, but even if the system is flawed, it still shows how you befriend the character overtime.  You can also choose to romance one of nearly all of your party members, and yes even those of the same sex.  What Origins does right, is how you choose what characters you want to interact with.  Some party members may seem quiet, distant, or even like they want to kill you, but if you take the time to befriend them and learn more about them, you can become friends with nearly any of them. In all seriousness, if you haven’t played Dragon Age: Origins yet, you need to.  It is a great example of story based narrative in games, and not only that, but all the choices it gives you along with some great cinematics (without having too many) makes this one of the best games of all time in my opinion. The score:

9.5 out of 10

Dragon Age: Origins was developed by Bioware and released in 2009 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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About the Author

Some say I should be a video game journalist, others say a video game designer. Shame you can't be both.



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