Dragon Age: Origins Preview


posted 10/15/2009 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
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If a small intricacy like saving will get you down, the soundtrack will more than make up for the experiences. I applaud Inon Zur for truly complimenting the story and environment with his score. If I needed any more of an immersive experience to really feel tied into the game, Inon Zur and the talented Aubrey Ashburn definitely pushed me over that edge. A good soundtrack can really win me over, and I am not one to exaggerate when it comes to the ecstasy known as music. It’s always a good surprise to be moved by music, and Inon Zur really hit the nail on the head on this one.

Playing through and understanding these aspects, I became a single-player convert. There is no way you can truly get the same experiences in this single-player as you would in multiplayer. As Mike Laidlaw explained: the game would inevitably turn into a hero/heroin at focus with various sidekicks, which is not an ideal setting for a game of this nature. This is your opportunity to explore your game that relies on your decisions. The choices and actions you take are always recognized, and the game will respond to the moves you make.

Although there is no multiplayer (currently), there are other ways of interacting with your fellow DA:O gamers. DLC should turn out interestingly for Dragon Age, as you are being given pretty much the exact tool set used by the designers at BioWare themselves. You also receive all the content, including pre-made areas, to have an easier opportunity to create whatever insidious quests and battles you have in mind. To quench your cheater’s thirst, I’ll answer this question before it is asked: yes, you can use this to effectively cheat in the game (although I don’t know why you would want to). You could, theoretically, create a quest that allots you a thousand extra levels by simply speaking to a character. For those of you that like to play God in your games, as I know many of my fellow gamers do, the tool set is your chance to do that in Dragon Age.

What will most probably hold this gamer and modder community together is the social site that is currently in closed beta. It will function something similar to Facebook in which you can view your friends’ feeds on your homepage and update your profile. Your profile will contain information from your play log, as well as any achievements you have accumulated or any screenshots you wish to upload. If you’re a builder, you can upload your files, advertise your specific skill set on the social engine, or put out ads looking for modders of other skills to help you with your projects. If that isn’t social enough for you, they’ve also integrated with Twitter and Facebook so you can send out constant updates from your character.

Now, on to the logistics. The bulk of my experience was on the PC, but I did dabble with the PS3 version of Dragon Age: Origins. The controls for the PS3 were very similar to the 360, so if you’re curious as to how the game handles on a console, this is where you will receive that information. Simply put, Dragon Age: Origins is a game befitting of a PC. The controls are pretty basic and resemble something like Neverwinter Nights or World of Warcraft. You have three general abilities that include: (1) your active abilities focused on a target, (2) your spells (including AoE – area of effect for all you non-RPGers), and (3) your sustained abilities, aka buffs.

As you accumulate spells and abilities, you won’t want to rely on the right button of the controller to constantly switch between your limited spread of three customizable action slots. Hotkeys on a keyboard are really the way to go. With the mouse and keyboard, you have more control and room to maneuver effectively. This particularly applies to gameplay style. There is a main focus on tactical play because of the pause and play feature. The AI is basically exposed – you can queue up commands for all the characters in your party, and delegate certain behaviors to match certain situations automatically in preset or customized command lists. You have a much quicker response time on the PC in regard to these controls, and I found myself progressing through the game much faster on the PC than on the PS3. Controls are really the biggest issue, as everything else remains intact.

I’m left with the desire to go back and explore Ferelden and the mysteries that I so lightly scratched at. Even after several days of many hours of gameplay, I barely understand the depths of the characters or the plot that is composed in Dragon Age: Origins. If you haven’t caught on yet, I will most definitely be waiting in great anticipation for the release of this game. Even with my limited exposure to the game, this is clearly one that is not to be missed. Unique, exciting, immersive like immersive has never been – congratulations BioWare, I do believe the hard work will have paid off.

Feel free to post any questions you have that I didn’t already answer in this article. After several days of doing nothing but playing this game and listening to talks about this game, I will probably know the answer. And if not, I will find out for you to the best of my abilities.

We’d like to thank BioWare for the opportunity at a hands-on experience of Dragon Age: Origins, as well as the informative demos and interviews that we have posted here.

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