Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins

Is it even possible for BioWare to release a game that isn't genuinely awesome?

I think not.

Ever since Knights of the Old Republic, I have played BioWare's games.  To be honest, I didn't know how they would top Mass Effect, but they did.  Going back to the fantasy roots from their Baldur's Gate days, they release another shining example of quality gaming in Dragon Age: Origins.

Of course, everyone has already said how much this game kicks ass.  You've read the strong reviews, blah, blah, blah...   Now, the Kaiser has officially put his seal of fucking awesome on this game.  If you have a 360, you should probably be playing this game.

As is always the case near the holiday season, I'm too damn broke to purchase the game right now.  However, I did rent it and am putting in some hours on it (which is partially why I haven't posted in a while; deal with it).

First off, BioWare always does a great job adding so much depth to their games and Dragon Age is no exception.  First off, the events (whether in the main storyline or in the side quests) are well fleshed out and the characters are compelling.  While you don't have the exact freedom to do anything you want, like in Oblivion or Fallout 3, you actually find yourself wanting to journey through Ferelden to fight the Darkspawn that plague your land.  You can, however, be as good or as bad as your want to be during your quest.  This can actually affect some things in the story.  For example, in order to free a boy from the influence of a demon without killing him, a ritual must be performed.  Usually, this ritual requires many mages and sufficient magic power to accomplish this, which you don't have at the time, but it can also be done by performing a human sacrifice, which they boy's mother volunteers her life for.  The question is do you choose to take the easy way out and kill the mother, or do you travel to the mage tower and face a different (and lengthy) quest to save everyone?

Despite the choices of "good" and "evil," the game tends to take you mostly into "grey" areas, which makes for more human NPCs and more challenging decisions.  This, of course, is what BioWare has excelled at ever since KotOR, so this is definitely par for the course, at least.

Not only are the story and characters deep, but each quests you undertake is an epic journey of its own.  While I went to said mage tower to ask for their help, they were beseiged by demons, which I had to fight to save them.  During the rescue mission, one of the demons put my entire party in a deep sleep.  Suddenly, I found myself trapped in a dream world and had to complete another lengthy quest to awaken everyone before I could continue with the previous quest.

I also entered the lair of a dragon cult, which led waaaay deep into the heart of a mountain.  Originally, I was trying to recover a holy relic, but found out the ruins were taken over by this cult and had to destroy them and they dragon they worshipped (which was a bitchin' fight) to get to the relic's resting place.  Then, I had to pass the trials of the last guardian of the holy relic (think of the one scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but longer) to reach the holy relic.  This game doesn't short change you on the adventure.  You wanna go on a quest?  You'll go on a motherfucking quest, boy!  Make sure you're in the mood to kill hundreds of enemies while you're at it, because that's how many demons, cut-throats, and dragons are between you and your goal.  When you're done, rinse and repeat.

Speaking of rinsing, you'll need to take a bath after every quest, because your whole party will the covered in blood.  This game doesn't mess around when it comes to the dark aspects of fantasy.  Battles are bloody, foes are cunning and cruel, allies will turn against you.  I actually appreciate that aspect.  At first, I didn't think I would be as excited about this game, since I usually don't do high fantasy.  Playing it sure did change my mind.

Of course, how can I talk about this game without talking about the two beautiful characters in your party that can become potential love interests.

First off, there's Morrigan.  Exotic, alluring, mysterious, and more than a bit dark and disturbing in ways.  She's also aloof, uncaring, and more than willing to shatter anyone's preconceived notions of faith.  I like her because she has an acerbic wit that creates some very amusing conversations between her and the other party members.  I wouldn't say she's evil, but I wouldn't say she's good, either.  Closer to the truth, she's awesome.

Then, there is the lovely Leliana.  She is highly spiritual in her beliefs, worldly, very feminine, and compassionate, but more than capable of killing a man.  Her hands are stained in blood, but she wishes to wash herself clean of her bloody past.

At this point, I don't know which one I want to bed more.  The choices I've made so far have made Leliana more favorable to me, and she is a soft, gentle song that compels me, but part of me also wants to melt the heart of Morrigan and see the woman behind that dark vaneer.

Anyway, I'm going back to playing.  If you haven't played this game yet, do so, real soon.  Hell, ask for it for Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas).  I don't care, just play this.

Kaiser out

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