Dragon Age: Origins initial impressions

Since it is keeping me up until 2:00 a.m. lately, it is obvious I am finding a lot to like.

Highlights so far:

• Soundtrack. It is a winner. I will probably buy it.
• The voice acting is excellent.
• The writing is top-notch. Bioware does great character dialog.
• The story is grabbing me. I do want to know what happens next.
• The game is pretty “adult” in the sense that this is a world where bad things happen. Characters die, fail, betray each other, and the heroes themselves may be flawed.
• It has a big sweep. It feels almost Tolkien in the stakes so far. It is a very “dark” game where the Dark Spawn are a much greater threat because “our side” can’t stop fighting among themselves.
• Some of it is indeed pretty to look at.
• Some of the game is very funny. The bits with the Mabari Warhound are hilarious. Ditto for some of the character back-and-forth from the party members.

Areas for improvement:

• Some of the textures seem a bit dated. I look forward to the inevitable texture and animations mods.
• The faces are not as detailed or as well-animated as other Bioware games. Things like turning heads seem particularly stuff and robotic.
• Get the teeth fixed! Morrigan looks like she used Austin Powers’ dentist!
• The combat system fails when characters treat my orders as suggestions.
• The combat also fails when they rush headlong to engage against clearly superior forces, get surrounded, and die. I get tired of having to take control on their suicide rush and march them back to where I wanted them to fight. If my lead character retreats, I expect them to do the same. Instead I watch from a distance as they attack until they die. Then I reload…
• Some of the DLC practically breaks the game. For example, what is the point of the nifty approval/disapproval system when I can max a character’s disposition towards me with one free super-gift via the “Feastday Gifts” DLC. Worse, using the DLC reportedly can glitch character dialog options that mess up character-related quests. The quests may be triggered as their approval reaches certain levels – but the DLC can rocket past that trigger point. I noted that one key companion’s dialog options didn’t seem to progress after I maxed out her disposition, so I have restarted the game and will avoid this particular piece of DLC until very late in the game
• The DLC system also seems to glitch. For example, one character I meet at our camp has a mission that is supposed to commence if I buy the DLC. The game keeps saying it was downloading. It never would let me start the mission last night. However, I couldn’t find evidence that it was actually downloading anywhere. After a few game restarts the next day, it did finally show up as available.
• Some of the quest NPCs have the “quest indicator” light above them long after the quest is done. The kennel master had a flag over him after the quest early in the game was done. Yet, there was nothing else I could do with him anymore.
• The game makes me endure long cut scenes (can skip) and dialog trees (can’t skip the choices) when I am trying to reload a saved game during chapter transitions. If I want to replay the end of the intro chapter to do something different, let me hit F9 and bail out of the transition to the next chapter.

I am still kind of early in the game. Even with the flaws I note, this is clearly a superior game. I think it will only get better as I progress through the story.


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