A masterpiece RPG that makes you feel part of something epic
Dragon Age must be one of the best RPG games around (as far as western RPGs go). The scope of its campaign alone truly makes you feel part of a grand battle of good vs. evil and in this case evil dwells both underground in forms of hordes of grizzly enemies and lurks in the heart of men, driven by pride, ambition and intrigue. The storyline of Dragon Age is a mighty one and depending on which of the six different origin stories you chose, you will stand witness to the story of how a young hero truly becomes the savior of Ferelden ( that is, if you suceed). Along the way you will meet many companions and just as many decisions to make and that is where DA:O truly shines. A game that has the potential to turn out in a way that I am left speechless, angry, confused - in other words : excited! - is a job done and well done in therms of game design. The composition of your party, your thoughts regarding the royal ascension, the ultimate enemy, the use of darker kinds of magic etc. all way in heavily on the events as they unfold and just like in Mass Effect, the degree of immersion that is thusly created is staggering.
The gameplay can be a tad repititive at times, given the fact that most players will optimize their characters and strategies with the given skills, hence, most of us - like I did - will just keep pushing the same buttons ad infinitum until the enemy falls, but the looting, group dynamic, spellcasting (for the oomph and tactial depth) makes it worth your while again. The game has loads of tilesets and as the story leads you from one end to the world to another, it makes for a great journey, that feels like one too, from the mines of the dwarven kingdom, to the lush forest of the elves. Crafting is limited and limited in fun, it is a nice addition but a far cry from the complexitiy you might expect from modern MMOs or even predecessors such as Neverwinter Nights. But there is plenty of loot to be found and many ways you can develop your character to suit your equipment and/or fighting style the best. Two handed rogue, staff wielding mage or prefer a mighty hammer to crack some skulls ? Same goes for the armor, there are penalties for wearing heavy armor, yet the sheer and brute strength of its protective quality might tempt you to play the role of a slow tank, others might prefer the taste of a swift striking rogue.
The music is great and so are most of the voices, some are a tad annoying and others will make your heart glow with recognition and there is something cozy to retreating to the campsite and having a fireside chat with some of your companions in between devlislhy brutal conflicts with the terrors from beyond the surface. The visuals are a tad dated and the animation clunky but the overall atmosphere, with giant castles rising in the background is beautiful, yes, I find that this is a beautiful game to play.
All in all, a must have and must play for everyone even remotely interesed in RPGs for the PC.