Posted: April 17
Dragon Age: Origins is the most generic Triple-A game I've ever played. It, is, in fact, Bioware's first entry into generic fantasy.
You start out making your character: do you want to be male or female? okay, do you want to be a dwarf, elf, or human? What.. Is this a Korean MMO? Bare in mind that this game opens a whole new universe of lore for a new franchise, so of course they're going to front their most creative minds when it comes to character design for this brand new lore.
Well, now you get to select classes: Warrior, mage or rogue. Maplestory has more classes. Bioware's other games have more classes, and one of them is a third person shooter. This is a long-run RPG that boasts over a hundred hours of content. Granted, there are 4 subclasses, to be unlocked at some undisclosed point. Still, nothing interesting therein as far as I can tell. Subclasses get an extra dash of five talents when they're unlocked. I can't speak for deep later in the game, but that's what I've been shown.
Each race has two starting stories, three if you're a mage. This is a great innovation, and the starting story is reasonably engaging. However, even this achievement only shows to shine light on the game's failings in presentation. The stories to start are engaging, expose a world ripe for character developement. However, within the first hour characters are yanked out of their own story where the producer says "wasn't that nice? forget that, here's a new story".
Converse to every other BioWare game, the introduction has more replay value and than the rest of the game seems to. In fact, as soon as you've gotten to the 'real game' on more than one character, the story seems to saterize itself. It doesn't matter if you're a 6'0 elf male or a 4'3 dwarf female (let's not talk about skin color, nobody in the game does; I'm black with a white family of course), that only changes a few responses and interactions with certain characters. It doesn't change who you feel you are or who the story thinks you are. Its a little funny to see, having been an elf, that the king who welcome you to this "real story" looks you in exactly the same spot when you're a dwarf. "Oh, and who might you be? *looks 4 feet over your head*" The stories all lead to the same place, directed by the same people, with little implication to your choices at this point.
The main characters are generic caricatures, and anyone of interest is killed off immediately. You're led about by Kyle Katarn, principly, who is so "honor driven" he kills innocent people right infront of you with no moral implication given by the story. The king character is constantly talking about how much he wants to be the subject of legends and to win glory, and all anyone says about him is 'this guy only wants to have songs written about him and to get all the glory'. I really like the side characters, like your dwarven friend, your elfen cousin, or your big dumb soldier friend. But, of course "they can't possibly come with us", etc, etc.
When I was a kid, you had Final Fantasy 7, where you started in an endless metropolis, ran across a swamp being chased by a giant snake, wound up in shimmering emerald mountain caves, and came out at a military base town with a giant awesome gun mounted to it. In Dragon Age: Origins you start in a town, then you go to the woods and fight orcs, then you go to an outpost.. and fight orcs. There's no variety or anything pulling me in here. There's nothing monumental to introduce me to this new universe, no stimulation besides a story that's immediately killed and replaced.
What reinforces this is the 'you don't feel like a hero' aspect. You're the up and coming champion of the Grey Wardens, you're an excellent fighter, besting seasoned veterans, guards, nobility. How does the combat in the game work in the first few hours? You see an enemy, then you right-click it, then you watch your health bar to see if you need a potion. Its basically World of Warcraft lite.
Why would I want to see what's more to be offered by this title when they've seemingly put no effort into making it presentable? It doesn't give me the impression that there's much progression, even, because I'm just seeing very linear talent trees (5 talents to about 6 weapon specific trees, and a few for class and crafting).
The game plays like a party-based diablo-esque, but your party is killed off every 5 minutes and reintroduced again, leaving one to care very little about what the other characters in your squad are doing. This is how you introduce people to a modern MMO, not a long-run RPG.
This is just a first impression, and I might play it more, but this is probably the worst first impression I've gotten from a game. It just seems to have little to offer beyond 'BioWare made it'. Maybe if Obsidian had made this game it would have made more sense.