LT Panel
RT Panel
Just Visiting
Friday | September 21, 2018
Popular Review Links:
Dragon Age: Origins (PC)

Dragon Age: Origins (PC)

For the few of you who don’t know – legendary developer Bioware have a new game released called Dragon Age: Origins. Publisher Electronic Arts have been behind a huge marketing campaign with a level of hype I haven’t seen in quite a while. Thankfully we are glad to report, for once, our expectations are met – this is possibly THE game of 2009.

Every several hundred years the Darkspawn Blight hits the fair lands of Ferelden. These forces of evil and undead creatures destroy everything in their sight and lay waste to the cities and townsfolk. Their leader, the Archdemon is an immensely powerful beast with little regard for any living creature and if he is left to do as he wishes then hell will be brought to the lands and as a result the ultimate destruction of the world.

All is not lost however as the Grey Wardens stand against these nightmarish forces and protect the people from destruction. Unfortunately to complicate matters the land of Ferelden is split into many opposing factions with civil unrest and political conflict part of everyday life. Only if the Grey Wardens can unite the lands will Ferelden have any hope of survival.

Bioware have weaved a complex tale and it really is a story focusing on the triumph of good over evil with the player trying to have an influence in shifting the balance in their favour. The attention to story detail and overall presentation is at times absolutely staggering. I have been playing the game for over a week now and there are still things to do and find, which in today’s gaming environment is quite an achievement.

As expected, the first move to defeating all the bad guys is actually creating your character – which for once actually means something ! You get to choose between an Elf, a Dwarf or a Human and these ‘origins’ represent a couple of hours unique gameplay at the outset of the game. There are actually a total of six permutations to choose from before you start your quest.

The developers then teach you the basics of gameplay, from combat to movement and inventory mechanics. All of these ORIGINS are very different initially and it is worth playing them all to see all the game storylines and concepts the developers dreamed up. All the character classes have a constant crossover point however which leads into them joining the Grey Wardens.

One of the games strongest facets is the re-playability with all these classes on offer. The Origins story is based around your character and the world environment changes subtlety to reflect this, especially dialogue with non player characters. Bioware really are master storytellers and never before have they quite reached the heights they have achieved with this game. Quests can play out in various ways and they have ramifications on the rest of the world, depending on their scale. While many role playing games put a morale compass on the proceedings, there is nothing like this in Dragon Age: Origins – each player is left to take their own path and sometimes the decisions have multiple grey areas which makes the whole experience much more appealing. After all, in real life we aren’t often presented with a clear cut ‘good’ or ‘bad’ decision – you do the best with the choices you can at the time.

The guys joining your group of freedom fighters all possess distinct personalities and even certain idiosyncrasies. They sometimes join your cause automatically and others will need a little more persuading to risk their life in the company of a complete stranger. These companions are brimming with life and they fight, bicker, joke and even romance each other as the game progresses.

Once again Bioware have spent some seriously impressive development time with the characters in the game as they all have solid, believable background stories and they end up as much more than ‘merely ways to get your stats improved’, you frequently will empathise with them as they appear to possess a wide gamut of emotional traits.

Much of the game is spent fighting which is handled by a sophisticated system of rules which you are never directly involved in. When you attack, the game weighs in your attack abilities with the creatures defensive capabilities and the dice are thrown, much like an AD&D role playing board game. Attacking the foes on screen revolves around right clicking them and watching as your party head in its direction for the kill. This is paired up with a tactics panel which allows you to configure various strategic elements for your A.I. based team – quite often the battles are so complex and frenetic that it takes all your skill and time to man manage how the battle will play out, rather than take a leading part yourself.

The graphics are lusciously detailed and the animations are particularly impressive as all the characters onscreen have various individual motions for attacking, dodging and movements to catch their opponents off guard. Magic users will stand to the side and begin their incantations, with quite often devastating end results.

To help improve your combat capabilities there is a skill tree system which is quite diverse throughout. You have a variety of small and medium sized swords and axes on offer, with even huge human sized weapons of destruction for the stronger and more advanced fighters. Bows and arrows are equally a dangerous option for certain party members to get a critical hit from afar and with four unique class specialisations for each of the three core classes there is a huge variety on offer.

Tactical combat is a hell of a fun experience and you really need to get to grips with the combat system or later on you will get your ass handed to you. The depth of preplanning and strategy built into Dragon Age: Origins will be adored by RPG fanatics and there is enough finesse to appeal to all skill groups – I quite often didn’t pay full attention to some aspects of the strategy and I still managed to struggle through some tough quests … but on the other hand I am positive that youtube videos will show some extremely skilled players making mincemeat of the more difficult combat situations with some stunning tactical configurations.

Obviously your strategic ideas will be tied into the members within your party and you can only have up to three people in your party at any given time and to change your configuration you need to return to your base. Taking an Assassin for instance will mean your battles play out very differently when compared with a Berserker class character. Having a mage in the team is almost always a requisite as they are diverse and devastating enough to always warrant a team spot, but equally so should you lose a healer to accommodate another warrior position?

While you get presented with many many battles in your weeks playing this game the boss fights are the most memorable and there are many of them thrown at your party to deal with. They range from huge demons to giant spiders and all present great challenge – you need to make sure your mage or archer remain far enough away but still in striking distance while your warriors get in close for some critical torso or limb damage. If you make mistakes during the harder boss battles you will easily lose all your party in the mouth of some oversized demon spawn beast.

We lead into the games shining light – the difficulty curve. Even though your characters quickly gain levels and associated skill points, the challenges are always reasonably fair and well tested by the developer. There is never a part of the game in which your characters have leveled up to quickly or you find an enchanted magic sword which makes the game mind numbingly easy. Every battle in this game requires you to be on your toes, so for those of you who like watching the TV in the background while gaming – you had best look elsewhere, total concentration is a demand, not an option.

Like Oblivion before it, the game incorporates a system of leveling up which in all fairness doesn’t actually make much sense, because a low level town guard by the latter third of the game is actually more powerful than a boss would have been when you first started out. This is easily overlooked however in the grand scheme of things as this game is one of the most EPIC RTS games I can remember in recent years. There is a solid history behind the world and everything makes you feel a part of it rather than merely an observer taking part in the setting. You will get sucked into the mythodology and the environmental settings and by the time the game is over you will already be wanting to play it again with a different character class. If reading all this backstory bores you, then you can ignore it, but if you do so, you are really missing out on one of the modern day RTS storybased gaming masterpieces.

To run this game you won’t need a monster PC, but if you want to max all the settings and run at high resolution we found that one of the new 5000 series ATi cards really eats this game up with some massively playable frame rates – equally so we had no issues with a 4870 last generation card. Nvidia users who have a 260 card also are well supported with a flawless driver experience and great frame rates.

Bioware have released possibly my favourite game this year and something I have yet to grow weary of playing, even though I have recorded over 100 hours of game time to date. It is a fresh breathe of air in a somewhat stale gaming climate in Q4 2009 and one that I will remember for a long time. This deserves to sell millions and we are sure it will, because the interest level is already so high. It is a masterpiece, there is really no other way to describe it.


The scope is epic, stunning world environments and immersive questing.
Possibly the weakest part of the game, but they are still impressive and are good enough to pull you into the game, head first.
Nice orchestral scores, which suit the tone perfectly. Good ambient effects throughout.
Absolutely stunning. Truly epic in all senses of the word.

A modern day gaming masterpiece

About Author

Stuart Davidson

It appears you have AdBlocking activated

Unfortunately AdBlockers interfere with the shopping cart process

To continue with the payment process can we ask you to

deactivate your AdBlocking plugin

or to whitelist this site. Then refresh the page

We thank you for your understanding

Hardwareheaven respect you right to employ plugins such as AdBlocker.
We would however ask you to consider whitelisting this site
We do not allow intrusive advertising and all our sponsors supply items
relevant to the content on the site.

Hardwareheaven Webmaster