Dragon Age: Origins : Awakening

Review

posted 3/16/2010 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
One Page Platforms: PS3
On the one hand, the overall experience of Awakening was too similar to Origins to stand out as an expansion someone would want to buy. Many of the settings and maps did not feel very distinguishable from Origins, and you’ll come across scenarios almost identical to those in the original game. Getting stripped of my armor and weaponry and waking up locked in a cage felt too much like déjà vu. Trekking through a dungeon looking to recover my possessions, I remembered a parallel trek in Origins.

On the other hand, new enemies and new characters made the storyline experience as intriguing as it was in Origins, without feeling like a copycat. The decision to make the darkspawn smarter, and therefore with more capable leaders, switched the pace of the game to an entirely different tone. While Dragon Age: Origins was more about a test of strength against a heavy army of darkspawn and their powerful bosses, Awakening introduces a greater back-story to the darkspawn that lends itself to a very different threat. There’s a more complicated and riveting conflict in Awakening, and the storyline will present you with even more morally reprehensible tasks than Origins.


The gameplay formula in Awakening remains consistent with the original game. Your three teammates run with a customizable AI scheme, but you can choose to control them at any time. BioWare’s infamous spin wheel allocating items and abilities is still in place, so if you’ve played Origins the gameplay will be almost identical. The RPG aspects are more enhanced in terms of an increase in level cap, as well as more specializations to choose from that will provide more spells and abilities for your characters. Stamina/mana levels are still at constant risk of being empty throughout battles, which was unfortunate because it didn’t give me much of an opportunity to experiment with my new slew of spells being that I was more worried about maintaining my energy levels than messing around with my characters.

Combat does not run as smoothly as I remember it to be in Origins. I experienced a heavy amount of lag, particularly during battles that started after a cut scene. With my Inferno spell going off, and darkspawn flooding through hallways, battles became consistently choppy and difficult to maneuver around. I even had an issue with sounds becoming muffled or even dropping completely. The game is a lot slower to respond than Origins was.

In the end, Awakening sums your entire experience to very gratifying results. That’s not to say that the end is necessarily a happy one. Rather, you experiences were your own and the decisions you made had a significant impact on Ferelden, its people and its future. Your side quests and missions tie in together with the storyline, really making them feel more a part of the main plot than most games will let on. None of your time is wasted in Awakening, except for perhaps the parts of it that were lagging.


B+
Dragon Age: Origins’ expansion, Awakening, gives you 20+ more hours of an experience that entails characters with depth and a captivating storyline that picks up and expands in a very unique way from the original game. While the gameplay may not feel very creative, and lagging may be abound, the new enemies and the new dilemma presented to the Grey Wardens is worth exploring.


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