The past few weeks for me have been horrible in terms of getting anything productive done. I've gone from playing through Assassin's Creed II, 100%, in one week to instantly being sucked into Dragon Age. I was planning on picking the game up for a while, but I just couldn't find the time to play such a huge RPG. I finally picked up the Digital Deluxe, as well as Plants vs Zombies and Osmos, during the recent Steam Black Friday sale. I'm not afraid to say that this is my best Steam purchase yet. It doesn't quite beat Assassin's Creed II for game of the year, but I certainly can't wait to keep playing.
I've never played this type of RPG before. I was young at the time the Balder's Gate games came out and have never been a DnD fan. I guess that's why I approached Dragon Age with a lot of skepticism. The game more than lived up to the hype. This is Bioware in their natural environment. Everything about the game feels well built and refined. The characters feel like subtle twists on fantasy tropes. They're different enough to have personality, but still fulfill their intended role. The character models also feel like the best Bioware has done yet. It's a shame the game doesn't look that good overall. The graphics are the only sticking point about the game. It looks old. Despite that, the game still manages to pull off some spectacular set pieces. The large scale battles and enemy encounters can look fantastic at times.I remember the first large battle I saw. Soon after joining the Grey Wardens, the game gives you a great large battle scene. The best part is the vantage point. You're on top of a bridge and you see this absolutely massive battle playing out below. It's absolutely breathtaking. That was the point the game changed for me from simply quite good to amazing.
The game does have some fundamental issues besides the graphics. The difficulty can be quite punishing at times. I'd say this may be the most difficult RPG I've played in a while. I can't imagine playing this on a console as the tactical view feels like the only way to properly manage the battle field. The character animations still feel quite stunted. The characters still do that odd turn after a conversation that's been in pretty much every post-KotOR game. I've had quite a few odd little PC bugs and unexplained crashes as well and, in my experience, the DLC downloading system sucks. It seems to get stuck, drop the connection, and take a lot longer than it should on the PC.
Speaking of DLC, even with those problems, I think the most exciting thing about the game is Bioware's promise to keep up DLC support well into the future. I want more content for this game. I want to be able to pick the game up every month or two until Dragon Age 2 and play a few hours. I love the world and the characters and I'd love to keep playing it.
Seeing what Bioware is doing in Mass Effect 2 is getting me really excited to see all those things integrated into the next Dragon Age. The dynamic camera in dialog scenes is something Bioware's needed to do for a long time. I'm glad to see they finally figured out how to do it. I'm just sad the first Dragon Age couldn't take advantage. With both of these original franchises, Bioware's future is quite promising. They now have control of what may be my 2 favorite Western RPGs, Mass Effect and now Dragon Age, and they show no signs of letting either franchise die off any time soon.