Thursday, 26 July 2012

Dragon Age Origins & Dragon Age II

Part I

Dragon Age Origins (2009) and Dragon Age 2 (2011) are perfectly well produced games by Bioware. Before I further analyse them according to my likings though, I may have to tell you all that I played Dragon Age 2 before I went for Origins so I favour Dragon Age 2. But I will come to that later on in Part 2.

 Let us begin with Dragon Age Origins (I added the trailer above as well). It was announced in 2004 and was  released in 2009. That's 5 years of developing showing itself in the product. From the story development to the music Dragon Age Origins displays the highest qualities of hard work. The outcomes of the choices you can make vary so much that you may have to go through with at least 4-5 playthroughs on each race to explore every single one of them. The map navigation is unusual when compared to the games like Oblivion or Skyrim but getting used to it should be no problem.

 The companions are so real that you run high risks of getting too involved in the story. If you check the Bioware Forums you will see people with crushes on specific companions, fans and even fan made stories and artworks of them. Many, fervently support those fictional game characters as if they were a real life persona and I suppose this is a testament to how real they seem as you play

The game does involve a score of video cuts. I believe it was the first step into video cuts in Dragon Age 2. Something I fell in love with as I played. But those video cuts in the Origins never involve speeches of your own character as he/she is unvoiced by a voice actor. The format of interaction with the companions and npcs are like in the old games, you get a choice of options at the bottom of the screen as you watch the reactions and replies of the rest of the world (I think you can see it on the picture on the left as well). This of course has got its advantages and disadvantages but I will discuss them further later on as I comment on Dragon Age 2.

The soundtrack is excellent. The tracks were composed by Inon Zur and performed by the Northwest Sinfonia.  Dragon Age Origins also won the award for "Outstanding Music Supervision" at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. There are two songs in this soundtrack that I actually uploaded to my mp3 player and love listening to them outside the game. Those songs would be: Lelianna's Song and Love Song both sung by Aubrey Ashburn.

The technology is old enough. The character movements during the fights look and feel like in slow motion (dont be surprised if you keep saying: "Strike already!" in a fight) And lets face it, the graphics look old and it aint a pretty looking game. As a matter of fact I find it unclear; even blurry at times. I have to add here that I played the game mostly for the plot and not for the fights. In my third play through I downloaded a mod which enabled me to skip the fights and it was a nice breather. I knew exactly where to go by then and who to fight, I had done it twice already and by that time all I wanted was to explore the different outcomes of various choices and the stories of different races.

But the worst is the character creation and not because it lacks choices. The problem with the character creation is that you can play with it for almost an hour, make a character which looks good on the creation screen and then you log into the game. It takes quite some time till you get a close up on the character you created and then the shock follows because it looks almost nothing like what you have made. Character creation without mods is simply a nightmare in Origins...

But that's the thing, there is an endless choice of modding in Origins. From extended scenes to video epilogues from extra dialogues to even extra companions; not to mention the extra armours, weapons, graphic and character creation enhancements. I am going to level with you all and go out on a limb here and say: If it was not for so many mods I do not believe I would have played Origins more than twice (as I did in Skyrim). But the mods enrich your gaming so much that you go for many more rounds. Here is a link you can visit if you wish to mod your Dragon Age Games: Dragon Age Nexus Mods. If you'd like to ask which mods I liked the most I will be happy to help you out with them all.

There are a lot of expansions to Dragon Age Origins. Some of those are embedded into the story and one is a stand alone expansion: The Awakening. I played all the expansions on my 1st play through and in second one I only went for the Awakening. Third and Forth times I never even touched them so in my opinion they are less intricate and more sloppy than the original game. However they do offer the closure you need on many occasions. 

So, Dragon Age Origins is a game which would easily lure you in and chain you to your computer desk for many weeks and maybe even a few months. Although the graphics are old you will find yourself wanting to play it again after some time just for the sake of the story, well made characters and moving scenes. Before I purchased the soundtrack I even used to load some saves just to hear some of the music.

But sometimes new indeed is better...

To be continued on Part 2, stay tuned for Dragon Age 2 in comparison to Dragon Age Origins.