At this point I
The game will give you a great many opportunities to recruit several characters into your party, but even characters you don’t treat particularly well can be plied with gifts, so you’ll have to do something pretty drastic to make them leave. Near the end-game you’ll be faced with much harder decisions that can actually rub characters so far the wrong way that they may even try to kill you. By 40 hours you’ll become attached to these characters and their personality, making some of the decisions agonizing. Very few companies can write dialog this well, but Bioware easily writes the book on it.
The voice work isn’t the only high point in the audio department – Inon Zur turns in an incredible performance once again, with Vocalist Aubrey Ashburn adding her incredible vocals to the mix. I have to tip my hat to Simon Pressey, Audio Director for Dragon Age: Origins – he and his audio team have done an incredible job across all platforms to bring this world to life. I purchased the Collector’s Edition of Dragon Age: Origins and was happy to see that the soundtrack was included. I did run into a few points on both platforms where the audio repeated, was incorrect to the scene, or didn’t play at all. This was repeatable, so I suspect we’ll see a patch to resolve it soon.
Many of you own a PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, so this review is going to cover the Xbox 360 and the PC and the differences between them. We
The console controls for Dragon Age: Origins have been, in the words of Dr. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk,
Graphically on the PC, Dragon Age: Origins swings from ‘just ok’ in some spots to truly fantastic in others. Earlier areas like the Kokari Wilds are somewhat lackluster, visually reminding me of World of Warcraft, and not in a good way. That said, other places like the Mage Tower are rich with detail in all directions. You’ll spend a great deal of time in various towns so you’ll begin to notice a bit of texture repetition, but it isn’t overly distracting. On the Xbox 360, the game makes that graphical swing a little bit more pronounced. The detail level is similar to what the PC version looks like on Medium settings, occasionally showing your shiny new armor as some sort of painted-on skin instead of something made of steel. There is also some mipmapping and pop-in that isn’t present on the PC version thanks to a much closer view distance on the console. Close-ups on characters is also somewhat hampered by some occasionally bland textures. The good news is that this texture downgrade is paid to ensure a rock-solid framerate and realistic load times.
Now we come to the most important part of any game – how does it play? In this instance, I find that the differences between the two come down to the differences in mechanics. With the PC being a more tactical experience with a more flexible camera I felt more comfortable selecting more spells, specialty attacks, and active skills. On the console, with a limit of only 8 quick-slots I found myself selecting more passive skills for my team, improving their overall performance instead of gaining specialty attacks and area of effect spells. This changes the gameplay significantly as the PC version is then played more like Knights of the Old Republic with its pause-and-go gameplay. The console version played far more like Mass Effect, leaving your party to execute their attacks based on the game AI in real-time, pausing to issue occasional special attacks or to take direct control of a character to help flank or otherwise engage the enemy tactically. I’m not saying it’s impossible to run Dragon Age: Origins on the console in the same tactical fashion as it is on the PC, but I’m saying that it is difficult to the point where the rewards are too few. The occasional AI issue does hamper gameplay, especially in the aforementioned “Mage thinks he’s a tank” scenario, but it behaves fairly well for the most part on both platforms. Certain characters will come with a many tactic slots open, giving you a great deal of flexibility in their intelligence, while others may need to spend the points to gain those slots. The AI is much like anything else worth doing – the effort is proportionate to the reward.