So I played an unhealthy amount of Dragon Age last night. I now have two characters, a female City Elf Warrior (dual wield, thinking of going Templar and Berserker for her) and a male human noble Rogue (dual wield backstab specialist, going assassin and dualist). I liked both origin stories, although I’m still unsure what I think about the City Elf origin. It was extremely unpleasant in its subject matter, and the way the bad things were portrayed (rape, murder, and racist oppression) were very abrupt and matter-of-fact. It was very George R. R. Martin, which I don’t really mean as a compliment (to Martin, that is). I’m not sure, as I said, how I feel about it. Another playthrough is in order before I come down hard on Bioware (if I come down hard).
I think he brutalizes his characters just to show how REAL his world is, and I got tired of watching him murder, rape, and abuse them after a few books. Bioware likes its characters more, and isn’t as willing to destroy them to keep their world Dark, which endears them to me. I like people who like the fictional worlds and people they create.
I also love Alistair and the Dog. Alistair is hilarious (the actor who plays him does a great job), and the Dog is really impressive in how it is animated and characterized. I already like it better than the Fable 2 dog. But back to the origin stories. It is obvious that Bioware was keen to create emotionally charged stories, and I think they succeeded. As a City Elf, I was perfectly happy to murder the man who had my friends murdered and raped, and my fiancée killed. My only complaint was that we didn’t get to know any of the elves in the alienage. As a noble, I met and got to know my whole family. Thus, when they were murdered while I slept, and their murderer escaped, I was ready to track him down and kill him. And then stupid Duncan whisks me off to fight the Blight. It made sense as a delaying tactic narratively, but I wanted to get straight to the revenge. I still don’t know what happened to my brother. Is he dead too?
The combat is uniformly excellent all of the skills have their place, as do the spells, potions, poisons, and various abilities. I’m still trying to figure out how to use traps well… I suspect I’m not being sneaky enough with them. I really enjoy playing as a back stabbing Rogue. It’s much more complex tactically than playing my fighter is. I can already tell that I want to play certain classes as certain races. Right now, it breaks down like this: Dalish Elf/Warrior Sword Shield, Dwarf Commoner/Ranger, Elven Mage. I will of course play all of the origins eventually, but I want to do it too much for fear of overplaying Ostragar and the Korcari Wilds.
Finally, I think I like the morality system better in this game: it doesn’t exist. Instead, you can make people in your party like you or not like you, just by doing things they would or would not like. So far I’m sucking up to everyone, but I might make my human be a little more picky. Also, I love Sten. I really need to talk to him more. It’s a huge game, and I love wandering about and fiddling with things, talking to my party members for hours (really, I spent an hour buttering up Morrigan, Alistair and Leliana), and fighting tough, exciting battles. Oh, and as expected, the lore is deep, well-written, and very fun to read. I’ve read every one, from the religious songs and histories of the chantry to the constantly-updated history of my doomed noble house.
So, after reading this, I hope you get the sense of how big and varied this game is. All of that was just me rambling about what I like. I could have talked about a dozen other things (gifts, armor set bonuses, shape changing!), and lauded those things just as much. It’s a great game, and it has its faults, but it’s the best RPG I’ve played since Mass Effect, and it’s great in a way that is very different from Mass Effect.
Which reminds me. Here is an absolutely amazing set of videos from Mass Effect 2. Things to note: Garrus, I love you! The dialogue and cutscenes look even better this time, as do the character’s reactions and expressions. I can’t wait for this to drop!