Graphics:
6.0
Gameplay:
9.0
Sound:
9.5
Control:
9.0
Replay Value:
10.0
Overall Rating:
9.0
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
EA
Developer:
BioWare
Number Of Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
Release Date:
November 3, 2009


Admittedly, when I first sampled Dragon Age months ago during an Electronic Arts press-tour here in New York City, I was underwhelmed. After all, it's kind of hard to fall in love with an RPG game in 20 minutes, especially since you have no idea what's going on, and since these preview builds often throw you many hours into the game. But of course all of that changed once I got a copy of Dragon Age last week and spent a whole bunch of time with it. In fact, Dragon Age may very well be one the biggest sleeper hits of the year, and easily the best RPG too.

Because this is a BioWare game, you go through the status-quo character creation process where you select your character race (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Mage), configure their aesthetic appearance, select fighter/character type (thief, warrior, archer, etc.) and divide initial stat points across certain attributes. Once that process is complete, which can take as short as five minutes, or as long as an hour, depending on how picky you are with the aesthetic editor, you are thrown into a world that if turned into a novel or movie, would stand toe-to-toe with Tolkien's own (note: there are two Dragon Age books out there, but they are only loosely based on the videogame's story). Yes, it's that good. BioWare has crafted a story so engrossing, that it makes the remaining wait for Final Fantasy XIII just a whole lot easier. Convinced?

Essentially boiling down to the classic good vs. evil theme, the central aspect of the plot revolves around your character being recruited by a clan of elite warriors in order to defend and rid the world of a dark blight that has begun spreading. Ghastly creatures have spawned, and the root of their mysterious and demonic presence must be found and eradicated at all costs. Clearly, there's a whole lot more to it that just that, but mentioning anything else would simply spoil too much – and believe me, you're really going to want to experience it all for yourself. But crazy enough, this story actually has multiple threads it can branch off into, seeing as how parts of the story are based on the decisions you make. On top of that, depending on what race and background type you start with, you'll have vastly different introductory experiences, in addition to seeing different segments throughout the game. So there's a huge incentive to replay Dragon Age: Origins, because it'll take numerous playthroughs to truly see everything in the game.

And that's what's so great about Dragon Age; the freedom. On the other hand, not all RPG games can accomplish freedom like this, because Dragon Age still retains a superb focus on the very core at hand. Yes, you can go off on side-quests, but because the story is so great, you never forget that there are bigger and more important things to return to. Of course, decisions don't just affect the story, but also your gameplay. For example, if you engage a group of characters in your way, you can either calmly talk your way through the situation, or escalate the situation into a battle. Having had a number of these encounters, I tend to base my decisions purely on the tone of the folks I'm engaged in the conversation with. At one point you'll encounter a group of thieves, they don't seem very receptive to you and your party, which bothered me, and so after a brief exchange, I decided to kill them. I did collect some good loot from them too, which made it all the worthwhile too.

Of course, when your encounters are met with a more sincere tone, I'll just talk to them, coax as much information out of them as I can, before dismissing them. And that's just one example, I can give you. One another is the ability to persuade, which I'm sure you've seen in other RPGs similar to Dragon Age. Persuasive actions are great in getting things done your way, or even earning free items. As a whole, your moral choices have an impact on the story in the game, once again giving you more incentive to play through numerous times and experience all of the different threads. Also, it's worth mentioning that your created character is not the only one you get to play with. In fact, you can switch to another character in your party, while the A.I. takes over yours. So if you've got a diverse party and you'd like to try out different combat styles, you can do so. Furthermore, you are also in charge of customizing and keeping your other party members well equipped, as well.

There really is a fantastic amount of freedom in the game, and I haven't even gotten to the character customization aspect. Equipping your character with weapons, shields, armor, magic spells, enhancing abilities, statistics, and everything in between is a very superbly well done process. Leveling up is done in a proper and gradual time, so unless you're grinding, you won't find yourself boasting an extraordinarily high amount of strength and running through the game like cake. Everything is just right, and if perhaps you feel like the challenge isn't sharp enough, you can always increase (or decrease) the difficulty, thanks to the available four difficulty settings.

With the full quest lasting as long as 60 hours, then factor in the numerous origins/background stories, the decision making and how it affects the story, on top of a number of other variable factors, Dragon Age's 60 hours is easily multiplied and the full experience can actually run the perfectionist hundreds of hours – as much as 200, we'd presume. Clearly, as far as value, there's nothing better than Dragon Age out there. I must raise one question though…why didn't BioWare top off the experience with a co-op feature of some sort? I mean, you can select to play as other party members right on the fly, so it's not like they aren't playable fighters. Then why not just pick-up a controller and enable the second player to take control? In fact, we recall hearing many months ago that Dragon Age: Origins would have co-op gameplay. And also, we actually saw Dragon Age: Origins running with two separate camera-views, a default third-person view, and also a traditional isometric view, which was omitted from the console games, and only left for the PC. But these are only minor complaints.

My biggest complaints, unfortunately, stem from the visuals. Disregard what you may have heard about the PlayStation 3 version being superior. Sure, the PS3 game has better textures, but it doesn't matter. Why? Because Dragon Age is a fairly bad looking compared to what's out there now, so it's not like having slightly better textures on one version helps, much. In fact, I'd rather have the slightly degraded textures than have to deal with the very unstable framerate of the PlayStation 3 game. Per my advice, Ben's been playing his Xbox 360 version and hasn't experienced any troubles with the framerate, because I told him that's the version to get for multi-console guys. The framerate on the PS3 game averages low-20s, and can be very sluggish when the bigger enemies (boss fights) come around. Panning the camera around dense locations makes the lousy framerate all the more obvious, as the stuttering will surely pain your eyes. If you can get past the framerate issues, then you'll absolutely love Dragon Age. I'm just barely able to live with it, and I absolutely detest framerates that aren't, at the very least, in the upper 20s, let alone 30.

It's especially disheartening because the visuals here are not very good. Animations are less than average, and the texture detail, regardless of which console it's better on, is not very good either way. There's a whole lot of pop-up in the background, and character detail is quite simplistic. It's almost hard to call this game's visuals next-gen. And it's really odd to see such a bland looking game matted to such superb gameplay. But, I guess there's always an exception. Though I'm really hoping that BioWare does the right thing and releases a patch to fix the framerate, at least. Otherwise, the Xbox 360 version is definitely the one to get for the smoothest gameplay experience.

If you've played BioWare games before, then you should know just how voice heavy their games are. The audio in Dragon Age is largely made up of a whole lot of voice acting, and while subtitles are available too, the clarity of the voice actors is superb. Additionally, the quality of the voice work is fantastic too, barely an instance of poorly delivered lines to be found. To wrap up a great package is a well composed soundtrack by Inon Zur, a man who is no stranger to composing soundtracks for epic games like Dragon Age, as he's also responsible for games such as last year's Prince of Persia, Fallout 3, Crysis, Baldur's Gate II, Champions of Norrath, Icewind Dale, SOCOM II, and many more. His work continues to shine in Dragon Age, as the soundtrack gives the game a very motion picture-like feel, helping propel the level of epicness.

If you can get past the really bland game visuals and a choppy framerate, then in Dragon Age: Origins you will find one of the very best RPG experiences in years. Masterful gameplay mechanics and an amazing story grab you and don't let you go until either a power-outage or sleep deprivation. The voice acting and soundtrack are first-rate, and best of all, the game is infinitely replayable. I will reiterate that if you're a multiplatform owner, I highly urge you to get the Xbox 360 version of Dragon Age. But, if you happen to own a solid PC, as well, then go for the PC game – it's the best of the bunch and has full mod support.

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bearbobby
bearbobby
11 years ago

Pretty much what a lot of review sites are saying, fantastic fantasy story elements almost overshadowed by piss poor performance. And rather bland graphics at that, though the rendered sequences look quite good it seems.

I love a good yarn though and attacking that story from several points of view is always a plus. I'll probably give it a try later down the road, hopefully some sort of stability patch is released by ye old gods of gaming.

Xra897
Xra897
11 years ago

so bad graphics but everything else is totally awesome

ExhumeART
ExhumeART
11 years ago

Bioware continues to produce good products! Wish they had spent a little bit more time with the PS3 version though.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

its perfectly fine, and more than playable on the ps3. honestly about an hour into the game youll look past alot of the framrate issues and enjoy the game! trust me, i have!

bebestorm
bebestorm
11 years ago

Great review! I can tolerate the graphics, I bought DA for the story and gameplay.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

good call!

coverton341
coverton341
11 years ago

I have to agree with this review in every sense of it. The graphics are not where they should be but you don't even mind when you get into the story, and yeah my only real gripe is the framerates. If I would have known that the frame rates were going to be this choppy and jumpy I would have gotten the 360 version but oh well, I am still loving the crap out of this game.

EDIT: Does anyone think they may resolve the frame rate issues with a patch? Just a side thought.


Last edited by coverton341 on 11/4/2009 9:30:18 PM

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
11 years ago

Probably, after all the game mysteriously jumped back up the release schedule after the delay talk a while back. So perhaps they decided that the game was viable with the graphics as they are, and in the meantime a fix is in the works that helps the graphics performance.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

i personally dont think bioware would have done that. none the less there isnt that much of a problem anyways. i think if anything initially there was a bigger problem at hand and they solved it rather quickly and were still able to release it early. im not saying it cant happen but thats a fine line.

PilarVIRUS
PilarVIRUS
11 years ago

Actually, presentation is the worst part about this game, but everything else is just prefect. I don't know why I posted this under your comment, but I think that it's going to take a huge patch to fix it the presentation, framerate-wise.

Axe99
Axe99
11 years ago

Great review – I'm very happy playing a great RPG with PS2 graphics if I have to, and am looking forward to this something fierce. And it is Bioware's first PS3 game and they're generally used to different architecture, so as long as I've got a great story and action, I'm happy :). Am looking forward to Bioware getting a handle on how the PS3 ticks for future work :).

Banky A
Banky A
11 years ago

Wow.
Good review.
Unexpected.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

i expected it. well lets just say i really wanted it to turn out this way!

King James
King James
11 years ago

Looks like this will be a PC purchase. Great review, as always Arnold.


Last edited by King James on 11/4/2009 9:47:16 PM

TheJackyl
TheJackyl
11 years ago

I can't comment on the PS3 graphics as I went for the PC version, basically for that very reason that it was bound to look better on a PC. Plus it probably even plays better with a keyboard and mouse over a gamepad for this game. Really overall a great game, I'm really enjoying it.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Please remember that it's your OPINION that it plays better with a mouse and keyboard. In my eyes, NOTHING controls better with that awful setup.

Jackyl
Jackyl
11 years ago

From what I understand the PC version and the console version play very differently. I can only imagine with the console you have a lot less control than with the PC version.

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
11 years ago

I went for the PC version as well in my opinion, the mouse and keyboard is the way to go. You DO have less control on the console version. Large conflicts are also more difficult on the consoles since you can't zoom out to birds eye view like the PC version. But whichever version you own or prefer, this game is one of the best RPGs in years and ANY RPG fan should do whatever it takes to add this to their collection.

I wonder though, does the console version give you all the bonus download content for free as well?

TheJackyl
TheJackyl
11 years ago

Also from what I've heard of other reviews, the console games are essentially easier. Basically you can't play the PC version without making regular use of the pause/assign commands feature even from very early on in the game as opposed to the console version which is more forgiving and you can play through most of it without pausing.

Basically the console versions are more Action RPGs while the PC is more of a Tactical RPG.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

That's entirely incorrect, Jackyl, and such nonsense comes from the elitist PC crowd that continues to plague some sites.

There is no way on earth the difficulty is magically easier in the console versions. I mean, maybe it is because I haven't played the PC version but it sure as hell doesn't seem like it. I've had to pause constantly to keep myself and my allies alive. Whoever said you can just run around hacking and never have to worry about anything in the console version is a PC fanboy who desperately wants to try to prove the PC is still more for the "hardcore," or something idiotic like that.

I'm not yelling at you or anything; I'm just telling you the facts because you're being misled. And lastly, like I said before, the mouse/keyboard setup always blows in my mind and I have no problems controlling or playing Origins with a gamepad.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 11/5/2009 10:22:03 AM

TheJackyl
TheJackyl
11 years ago

I gotcha Ben and certainly as I have not played both versions myself, to me it is merely hearsay.

As far as controls go, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I know most people hate trackballs while I am a big advocate of them. Basically, boils down to what you are most comfortable with and used to.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

The control thing is just a matter of personal preference. I grew up spending far more time with a gamepad so it's different for me, while those who have used the mouse/keyboard setup for a while understands it better than I do.

ArnoldK PSXE
ArnoldK PSXE
11 years ago

Gonna chime in. Managing the game and your players is easier with a mouse, but more annoying to control with a keyboard. Also, yes, the console games are easier. The console version on Hard is the PC version's Normal.

And lastly, keyboard + mouse is absolutely epic when it comes down to 1st and 3rd person shooters, that's a fact. There is simply nothing better and more precise. Once you play an FPS, just ONCE, with kb+mouse you will never go back.

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

I wish, for that reason, Sony would release a proper first party dongle and mouse combo, for which FPS's would be made to use. There's no excuse for them not having'em this far into this generation when FPS's reign as king. For aiming, I definitely see how the mouse is much easier for aiming precisely and quickly, especially when you're on the move. But as far as maneuvering the character around, dodging, and jumping, the controller feels better (which quite a few people said when rating 360's Gears higher than the PC's). That's why I think a dongle-mouse combo is the best of both worlds, although I've never used one.

The basic problem is that even though there are 3rd party ones, the games aren't built for them yet, and they don't peform well, often introducing lag.

Hawkeye
Hawkeye
11 years ago

Aftab,

I agree, I wish Sony would support mouse and keyboard as there is another genre of games that don't play well on consoles… that is RTS, the Total War series comes to mind. Especially the latest, Empire Total War. It would look incredible on my tv through the ps3!

Arnold,

I agree with you 100%. Mouse and keyboard are awesome with FPS. That's why it has taken me so long to get used to BF1943 on the PS3. I almost gave up entirely… but then I shot a couple of my friends online and felt really good. Felt complete actually. (tongue firmly planted in cheek there)

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

Do the different pieces of armor and equipment render on screen?

Hawkeye
Hawkeye
11 years ago

I don't see why they wouldn't do that. They've done it in the past with Neverwinter Nights on the PC.

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
11 years ago

Yes it does. Well the PC version anyway. I'm sure the console version does as well.


Last edited by Geobaldi on 11/6/2009 6:28:49 PM

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Arnold, how do you calculate your score? Do you add all 5 catagories together, then devide by 5? If so, the score would be 8.7, not 9.0. Do you weigh one catagory more than another, is that how you came up with a 9.0?


Last edited by MyWorstNightmar on 11/4/2009 10:19:08 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

No, the Overall score isn't necessarily an exact average of the other scores. It's usually close, of course, but we factor in other smaller (unseen) scores we assign to elements in our head, like tilt (our own personal preferences), storyline, etc.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Ben, thanks for breaking that down for me. When I looked at that score, the math didn't look right, and now you explained it perfectly. Thanks!

Jed
Jed
11 years ago

I guess they should have spent less time on the graphics in the trailers. I watched some beautiful trailers fort this game, and expected that the graphics would at least be decent. oh well, I'll get the PC or 360 version.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

in my opinion the ps3 version looks better but the 360 versions frame rate is higher, so i guess what part of graphics you prefer. then thats is my opinion.

i will say this despite whatever technical issues it has which in my eyes are few. its an unbelievable experience and worth playing on any console. no matter what console you buy it for i see the consumer being happy!

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

i just gotta say, im not arguing with the review first of all, i think its another grade A, review full of all the info a reader could ask for. i know arnold and ben both have copies of the game on dif. platforms as well.
But at the end of the review arnold made it sound like it ran like crap on the ps3 which is not the case, its a little choppy in areas but its very easy to look past.

second even though the frame rate on the 360 is higher i think its visuals are even less stunning. im no reviewer, and nor am i trying to be a pain. i just wanna let the reader also know as a reader/ and player of the game, there is more than plenty to be happy about owning the ps3 version.

as arnold did say though if you own multiple consoles then u have a choice to make. but dont be scared to buy the game for the ps3 if you only own that console! im just afraid people will get the idea this is another horrible port which is truly not. if your an rpg fan no matter what the console, u will love this game!


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 11/4/2009 11:25:32 PM

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

let me reiterate- "But at the end of the review arnold made it sound like it ran like crap on the ps3 which is not the case, its a little choppy in areas but its very easy to look past."

that sounded horrible and i appologize. i meant to say something more along the lines that, Arnold put emphasis in buying it for the 360 if you own both consoles, which is fine, but it sounded like there was alot more negativity than needed to be there for the ps3 version. phew good save?

anyways not trying to stir up controversy, and obviously im not good with words. again i just hope people dont get the wrong idea by what the end of the review says. i certainly hope no one takes what im saying the wrong way, im trying to help out in some strange sense. i know alot of people dont like what i ahve to say recently so! 😉


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 11/4/2009 11:34:04 PM

Oxvial
Oxvial
11 years ago

I also think Arnold review sound very negative like if the Ps3 version sucked a lot but that's because he detest framerates issues .

I find the PS3 version the one with better graphics and textures, 360 version has a better frame rate than Ps3 but overall worse visuals .

so gamers make your choice.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

its not necessarily that it sounded negative even though i said that. i just think it was misleading, and probably not intentional.

i can tell from other reviews arnold has a niche for framerate and graphics in general. but thats not everything about a game. thats why dragon age still scored well in his review he knows this. but it was misleading in my eyes and i feel the consumer should know its ok to buy the ps3 version its not inferior and in ways its better.

so if you do have both consoles i still say weigh your decisions, because framrate isnt everything, and visuals might be more important. on the other hand just play the fricken game its sick and worth it!


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 11/5/2009 1:11:57 AM

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

This is exactly why you have to read more than one review for a game if you're interested in buying it. Arnold's review does put a negative slant on the PS3 version and yet other reputable reviewers are saying if you go console it's the PS3 you should be looking at. I for one don't agree that I should buy the lower res textures, flushed out colors version of the game so I can get 5 more fps.

newchef
newchef
11 years ago

so the trailer is actual game graphics? thts disappointing but im alrite with it, its all about the story for me

sabitrulz
sabitrulz
11 years ago

''Otherwise, the Xbox 360 version is definitely the one to get for the smoothest gameplay experience''
arnold plz chak out the gamespot review, they gave the ps3 version 9.0 and 360 version 8.5 because the ps3 version has got better texture work, shorter load times, rich colors……..

ArnoldK PSXE
ArnoldK PSXE
11 years ago

I'm well aware of the differences, I already mentioned them. But the bottomline is that the game isn't very good looking on either consoles – so it doesn't matter which games the best textures, the differences are fairly marginal and not important enough to care about. The most important thing then becomes the framerate and making sure it's as smooth as it can be, which it isn't on the PS3.

And all I'm saying is: if less than stellar framerates really bother you, then you may be put off by Dragon Age a bit. I think because this isn't a super fast action game, I can live with it.

Aftab
Aftab
11 years ago

Thanks for the info on framerate. Games that fall too far below 30fps give me a headache, and I can't play them too long without feeling a bit woozy (especially rpg's which are big time-suckers).

www
www
11 years ago

Why is the PS3 version getting higher scores than the 360?

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
11 years ago

Thats what I want to know.

Plus, I read some other reviews that how the PS3 has better graphics (albeit marginal)then the 360 version.

I have to believe that a patch could fix the framerate issues on the PS3 version.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

you both are right. the ps3 version is recieveing better scores because it has better textures and richer colors. basically it looks better on the ps3. they both play the same and r identical otherwise, except that minor framrate issue that everyone keeps dragging on.

listen if we were playing dmc, or god of war then i would say the frame rate would be an issue but this is not a fast paced action game, packed w/ 50 enemies on screen, type of game. its an rpg and as i said before its very easy to look past the framerate issues once you start playing cus you start getting involved in the game. literally i dont realize the framerate because im too drawn into how im going to fight this next boss, or what im going to say in a conversation so i dont get hated upon. i guess my mind is elsewhere when these issues occur because they really are not that big of a problem.

its worth buying on the ps3 it really is. and truth be told it could all be fixed with a simple patch but i dont think its a priority. i guess keep in mind this is just another mans opinion though, but i have easily looked past the issue at hand.


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 11/5/2009 12:11:24 PM

Frenchy17
Frenchy17
11 years ago

I agree 100% with Bigrailer!

Ricochet
Ricochet
11 years ago

I'd get this but….

Demon's Souls is still consuming my life.

Banky A
Banky A
11 years ago

Would you say it's slowly devouring your soul?..

tridon
tridon
11 years ago

I want to play this quite bad but I don't think I have the time to sacrifice in order to do so.

I do find it rather strange, though, that on a Web site dedicated to the PlayStation, we're recommended to buy this game on the competitor's system.

whooka
whooka
11 years ago

That's called an 'honest review', I for one appreciate it when it comes down to a $60 decision (in this economy).

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