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Reviewed by Rich DeWester
ioWare's name has become synonymous with great RPGs that, like the games of Peter Molyneux, give players the ability to change the story based on your choices. They aim to expand on this idea even more with EA's newest game, "Dragon Age: Origins.” The game also promises to deliver a darker, more serious story than most are accustomed to from BioWare, as well as one of the bloodiest RPGs to date. The medieval-themed story is centered on a returning dark army headed by an archdemon and a cross-cultural army that had once defeated them.
As the game begins, you get a brief explanation of how the dark army was formed before you can select your character. First you choose your sex, race and class (warrior, rogue or mage), and then finally your character's status, such as commoner or noble. All of these choices will change the story and how the world interacts with your character, which gives a spectacular immersive effect. By picking an elven commoner, my character was woken up on the day of his arranged marriage, which eventually gets interrupted by a human noble who steals your cousin's bride and your own. You then get to extract bloody revenge on the bastards as you save both women. Nearly every conversation gives you the ability to add your own touch to the story, whether you choose to tell people how happy you are about the wedding or if you choose to be brave or cowardly when facing the humans.
No matter what story you choose or how you choose to play it, they all end up at the same place eventually, joining the grey wardens. There are many twists and turns throughout the game’s deep story as well as a large amount of side quests to enjoy. And just like the origin story, you constantly get to put your own spice to it. Throughout the game you will come across new people to join you on your journey, and your interactions with them can even earn you new abilities.
"Dragon Age: Origins" has a decent little soundtrack; the music fits the environments well and eventually fade into the background, never becoming annoying. Voice acting, on the other hand, can be a bit overboard, though there is some pretty funny bantering between the members of your party as you walk around, and it seems to change based on where you are and why you're there. "Dragon Age: Origins" does have one large flaw: the graphics. Character designs are unimaginative, and at times it was impossible to tell story characters from the average citizen. The dated graphic engine only makes matters worse; there are launch titles that look much better than this. People might be shocked to even see BioWare's name on the box, especially after "Mass Effect."
The gameplay and story are never really suppressed by the game's poor graphics, and with the multiple storylines and ridiculous amount of ways to change each one, there is plenty of replay value to be had here. There is also download content available to enjoy if you ever manage to get tired of the story, and there will probably be more to come over time. Don't be too surprised if there’s a "Dragon Age 2" in the near future.