Dragon Age: Origins is an interesting, gripping, and wonderful game to play, and while the game itself is three years old, it still deserves some praise and critique, and I hope you'll indulge me on that front. I first heard of this game sometime in 2010, a month or two after Mass Effect 2 was released, but I had given it little attention. I wasn't really into roleplaying games at the time, and this was also around the same time I saw Mass Effect in game rental stores and thinking it was something like Halo, thus giving it a pass. However, after reading about and having decided to purchase both Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 for only $12 each off Amazon, I decided to give them a whirl, and I fell in love. Not long after that, I was on the search for more games from BioWare and thus had discovered Dragon Age: Origins.
I wasn't sure what to expect with the game, if I'm completely honest. I knew it was another of the roleplaying genre, but not having read up on the game, I was going in blind. Naturally, I expected a lot of similarities to the Mass Effect series, but to my surprise and much to my pleasure, it was quite different. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the Mass Effect series--I did, very much--but it was nice to see another series from the same company go in a completely different path.
Upon starting the game, I spent a lot of time researching character customization on the Internet, having no knowledge about rogues, warriors, and magi, naturally, wanting to know more before choosing a specific path. I decided that the Rogue class suited me properly and spent more time creating my character. What really thrilled me about the introduction of the game is that the origin story is different, depending on what kind of character you play as, whether it be a Human, Elf (City or Dalish), or Dwarf (Commoner or Noble) and while I'm yet to experience any origin story other than a Human Noble, I'm quite excited to get started on another.
Customization is rather great, although it's quite difficult to create a male human that doesn't have protruding cheekbones and rather sucked-in cheeks, as well as a pointy nose, which is mostly why I chose a female human for my first experience. With a moderate selection of hairstyles, facial structure sliders, makeup (for females, naturally), as well as facial tattoos that remind me of either tribal or clan styled tattoos, while others reflect war paint. The customization isn't too in-depth but it isn't lacking either. It's a fair balance, but there's room for improvement.
For a game released in 2010 on seventh generation consoles, I was expecting a bit more, but there's no denying that the graphics are indeed beautiful. The characters are very believable, especially in lip movement during dialogue. More importantly, the environments and scenery are quite compelling. I found myself more than once, pausing any movement just to look around and appreciate the surroundings. While the game isn't an open-world setting, there's still a lot to explore and a lot of nature to be witnessed.
Now, I've been postponing and feeling somewhat reluctant to discuss gameplay mechanics. I'm unaware how to properly categorize the style of combat in the game, considering how it's not exactly button mashing, but not turn-based either. I guess the best way to describe it is to compare it to that of combat as seen in the Baldur's Gate series, for those who've if not played, at least seen videos of. You can issue a queue of actions to your character and characters in your "party," who are most often considered NPCs even though you can control them in combat, something I didn't even figure out until Dragon Age 2. The combat does get a bit tedious, for me anyway, because I'd much rather have more control over my character and actually get down and dirty in the combat, instead of just telling them what to do and when to do it. I'm taken back to The Sims in that respect, but much less of a "playing God" kind of feeling, if you will.
What I like the most about the game, as I do with any roleplaying game, is the dialogue and choices. While your character is mute, much like the Elder Scrolls games, you may pick from a selection of responses, listed numerically, usually signifying different attitudes and tones: serious, sarcastic, neutral, comical, friendly--it's how I'd describe them anyway. I was rather upset to learn that your character doesn't speak in dialogue, but will shout random, but relevant things during combat or when attempting to say, pick a lock. I found it overall unnecessary to omit any kind of voice acting for the main character, if they were kind enough to make them speak during certain gameplay.
Overall, the game is quite brilliant. I haven't encountered any glitches, which seems to be the most often discussed downside to the game, which is wonderful for me. In itself, Dragon Age: Origins has a decent length, and with multiple pieces of downloadable content available for purchase, you can extend your play time as much as say, three to five hours (give or take one or two) per piece of downloadable content. If you're a fan of roleplaying games, or whether it just be a gamer interested in a fascinating and gripping story, Dragon Age: Origins is not to be missed.