Dragon Age: Origins has plenty to live up to, but Bioware has once again struck RPG gold. A strategy-RPG featuring deep character customisation, moral decision-making, party combat and mature sub-plots.
As a rising evil threatens to destroy all life, it's up to players to unite the shattered lands and slay the corrupted dragon Archdemon. To restore peace, players must make ruthless decisions and be willing to sacrifice friends for the greater good.
It begins with the creation of a player avatar. Dragon Age: Origins asks players to select an origin for your character.
Stepping into the nimble shoes of a city elf, we were soon forced to endure brutality, poverty and discrimination as our pointy-eared protagonist. Two hours in, we had close friends, lost loved ones, and vowed revenge against the tyrannical rulers.
Only when we were approached by Duncan of the Grey Wardens to join the battle against the Darkspawn did we remember - the game hadn't even started yet!
Ferelden is a living, breathing kingdom packed with citizens, customs, religions and legends. It may share the same "swords, dragons and dungeons" surface of so many adventures, yet it sets itself apart with inimitable characters and defining environments.
From the war-torn refuge of Lothering to the wondrous Dwarven city of Orzammar, we were taken by attention to detail in architecture and design. Whether it's trekking through sprawling gothic towers or trading stories at a cosy pub, every shred of scenery contributes to an incredibly rich world.
Dragon Age: Origins boasts a typical RPG interface. The bulk of the game is played from a third-person street view, but you can also pull back for a traditional overhead view.
Combat, which makes up a large part, is turn-based and allows players to jump from each member of their party, micro-managing warriors by assigning attacks, spells and buffs to each.
The option to pause battles, rotate the map and better plot your strategy is simple but invaluable. It's even more effective thanks to the game's Tactics options, which allows players to set up rules of engagement.
The camera gets cluttered during hectic battles, so coupled with the game's rewarding, yet occasionally frustrating difficult spikes, we found it important to pay as much attention as elvenly possible.
While encounters can border on the unfair, it only makes your victories that much more gratifying as you decapitate or disembowel a foe.
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