438th played so far


Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: PC/Playstation 3/XBox 360
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Ah, Dragon Age! The last Bioware game on the list. We went pretty fast through their list of games… Yeah, I really just wanted to play them, that’s the entire reason.

Dragon Age is Bioware’s new fantasy world, created in part to have a fantasy franchise they have control over, rather than the license they needed for Baldur’s Gate II and Neverwinter Nights – a similar reasoning applied to Mass Effect‘s world after Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. We’ve seen they did this well with Jade Empire, so I’m looking forward to this.

Our Thoughts

One of the downsides of an epic story can be one of slow starts. The game wants to set the scene, make you familiar with its mechanics while showing you your backstory – something that’s especially important with a lot of Bioware games as, on some level, its stories are about the player character as much as his surroundings.

Bioware partially tries to resolve that for this game through different backgrounds – based on your class, race and choices you’ll start in a different environment, with a different introduction to the game. It adds a fair amount of variation to what can otherwise be repetitive tutorials, but on the whole it’s still a bit dissatisfying. It feels like it takes a long time before you get to the good bits – the worlds to explore, the NPC characters to interact with, and the freedom to quest and develop as you want.

After the introduction stories, which are excellent and offer a nice amount of variation – one of us found the secrets of the mage’s tower while the other explored elven forests – but after that there were times it almost felt to drag a bit. The pre-world map story can drag a bit, with you going out in the wilderness being fine, but the dungeon-y tower that followed got a bit boring and lengthy.

What follows does shine. The next fifteen minutes can add four characters within fifteen minutes (some based on your choices) and five minutes later you get four or five different directions to go in to finish the main quest, together with a bunch of smaller quests. The sense of freedom is immense and wonderful to dive into.

Character development is decent, with power and skill development split well enough that one doesn’t affect the other. Powers mostly affecting battles, with skills ‘on the field’ and in conversations, mean that neither really bother each other and you’ll always have both options. The game is set up with a pretty large list of powers, providing plenty of chance to experiment.

Graphics and sound are both good, as you’d expect. Special effects aren’t always as flashy as you’d expect, with a lot of magic kept low-key and so far constrained to proper magical area like the aforementioned mage’s tower.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately there’s a few bits of the game that feel a bit constrained due to the game’s requirements of the day – voice acting constraining how many dialogue can be used, cutting the quirkier characters of games like Baldur’s Gate and the expanses of that game. At the same time, the game undoubtably looks better and the mechanics are stronger.

Ignoring the successor part, though, the game is enjoyable despite the slow build-up, and we’re looking forward to playing more and continuing to the next parts (even if this blog won’t cover them).