Dragon Age:Origins

One of my favorite games of the last year was Dragon Age:Origins. It is a tremendous RPG with good graphics and a great story (to be expected from Bioware games). It is almost an old-school RPG, like Neverwinter Nights, but simplified and not using D&D rules. In the game, you can choose your origin, whether you are a mage, dwarf noble, dwarf commoner, wood elf, city elf, or human noble. Each of those six backgrounds has a deeply compelling origin story that is universally sad and filled with unjust death (and more) that sets the stage for the game. The origin story and some of your subsequent actions make various interactions later in the game very different (i.e., you really want to kill Arl Howe if you’re a human noble).

You control a party of yourself and 3 others that are controlled by the computer (or you can choose to control one of them and let the computer control your character). Each character has a simple set of customizable rules that you can set to make them a healer or ranged or a magic damage dealer, for example. Battles take place in pausable real-time, so you can pause, issue commands to your party, then resume very intuitively. The battles are immersive and great fun.

I played each of the origin stories at least once, and played the game through three times as different characters (it’s much faster the 2nd and 3rd times, because you don’t have to watch all the cutscenes). I made different choices each time, some of which I regretted later, but that’s part of the fun. I think mages are the most powerful, particularly when they get to be Arcane Warriors. The scout/assassin class is also really good once you level up a bit, with regular insta-kills and the ability to avoid damage through dexterity. Warriors are just boring…

Highly recommended for great fun!

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