A few years ago, when Dragon Age: Origins first came out, I got it for my PC and I loved it.  The first RPG game I was really able to play and truly immerse myself in was Neverwinter Nights, and it was a long time before I came across another game that equaled what was my RPG console god until Dragon Age.I played through my PC version twice, obsessed with all the nuances of play and determined to find all the secrets in the game.  Alas this was not to be.  At least until I got the Ultimate Edition of Dragon Age: Origins and Awakening for my 360 last year.  😀
To date now, I have played through the original campaign of Dragon Age: Origins at least six times, and the expansion and DLC twice, and I have completed all the single player achievements.  Needless to say I love this game.  Granted some of the mechanics are limited, but I think that is more than made up for in the story and the hours of adventuring you can put in.  You custom create your character appearance, down to your facial bone structure.  Of course this only happens after you choose your character race of Human, Elf, or Dwarf, and class of Warrior, Rogue, or Mage.  Sub class specialites are available later on, such as the ability to become an assassin if your character is a rogue, a champion if you’re a warrior, or a shapeshifter if you’re a mage.  And many of these sub classes are only available through purchasing Tomes or being trained by companions.None of your original race/class choices I find really affects game play, except some more xenophobic characters in the game will make negative reference to your race if yours is different from theirs.

All in all, 99% of the quests are available to all the races and classes, so that’s not a big deal.  The whole premise of the game is that there are creatures running around this world of Fereldan called Darkspawn, who follow an Arch Demon in the form of a dragon.  The Darkspawn live underground in old Dwarven tunnels called the Deep Roads, and once every century or so the Arch Demon rears its ugly head and calls forth all the darkspawn it can muster into a march on the surface, creating something called a Blight.   And of course the only ones who can defeat them is an order of warriors called the Grey Wardens.  Men and women from all races who are trained to fight the Darkspawn and keep them from overrunning the country.

Enter you.

No matter what class or race you choose, you are recruited to become a Grey Warden and join the battle against the Darkspawn and save the world!  I created a human female noble duel sword wielding Grey Warden warrior, sub specialized templar/champion.  Try saying that three times fast….

You are in one battle at some old ruins where the King’s army -and the king- is wiped out.  Now you and Alistair, a fellow Grey Warden and the heterosexual love interest of the game, are alone and need to raise a new army to fight the Blight.  Armed with some old treaties that the Grey Wardens drafted up centuries ago, you and Alistair are off to create an army.

Your army in the end is divided into three factions, your actions during the course of the game deciding who stands by you in the end.  You have a choice of Elves/Werewolves, Templars/Mages, and Dwarves.

You get lots of interesting choices for companions too, which I like. You can play around with their stats and have basically one companion for almost every situation you can face in the game.  Although retrieving them might be a bit of a pain as they’re all awaiting you at your ‘camp’ and you have to run back and forth for them, and half of them are available for love interests later one.  Two guys and two girls, one of each swings both ways.

Each companion comes with their own unique personality and the game is equipped with a friendship/rivalry system which affects your interactions with your companions and their interactions with the world around them, but does not seem to affect the outcome of the game.

With 4 DLC campaigns to play though afterwards (3 dealing with companion quests and one where you are the invading darkspawn rather then the defending elves/humans), and the expansion Awakening that picks up where Origins left off and runs with the question: “What happens next to the Darkspawn?”; Dragon Age is a highly in depth, complex, and comprehensive game, with most every choice you make reflecting on the outcome of the final battle.

What I love most about this game is that it’s something that I will keep coming back to.  Every change you make to your character changes your game play experience in Origins.  All the changes you experience in Origins will change your game play experience in Awakening and the DLC quests.  You never get the same thing twice in a play through.

Battle mechanics are simple point and click, and this awesome auto targeting feature that makes things a bit easier if you’re trying to control group tactics.

For example, once you lock on to a target, you continue to attack the target until it’s dead.  Once your main target is taken care of, you can click your action button, auto lock on the next closest target and start all over again.  This I like, though some people might not.  For me it frees up my attention from “Am I attacking this guy?” to “What awesome talents can I use here,” and “Where can I best direct my companions to do the most damage”.

Another point in favor of Dragon Age is the guide that BioWare, Prima, and EA released.  I have been playing RPGs for a few years now, and have eyeballed the guides that go along with them, but no game has ever engrossed me enough to want to go out and purchase the guides to accompany the game.  But I have given in for Dragon Age, and finally purchased the guides for both Origins and Awakening.

It’s not often I do game reviews, but I figured it was high time for Dragon Age.  Next to Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age is my favorite console RPG, I have spent countless hours playing it over and over again, tweaking mechanics and interactions, and now I have finally started Dragon Age 2 and it looks to be just as awesome as the first one.

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