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I wanted to like… Dragon Age: Origins

I’ve always been a huge fan of Role Playing Games. My general interest in the genre is far-reaching and broad, but as a result I tend to be picky and only truly like a handful of scattered games that blend the elements. I generally like Japanese RPGs, provided they’re not too grind-focused and have a good story, or at least a humorously convoluted one. As far as western RPGs go, I cannot accurately pin my preferences into a group or particular type. I tend to like old turn-based games. Some newer RPGs interest me and even fascinate me. Many of them, however, downright frustrate me, even if I want to like them for the merits they do have, such as Dragon Age: Origins.

While I am the kind of gamer that gives every game a chance to entertain me, there are few games I can honestly say I either dislike or hate. I also tend to be aware when a game falls on the lower end of the spectrum, where I’m just not deriving the type of enjoyment the game means to muster. For example, Dragon Age, much to my dismay. Much of my frustration comes from my dislike of fully real time non-action RPGs. I enjoy games that use a turn-based battle system (usually JRPGs) or I will lean towards complete action-RPGs, where everything is real time and mostly skill-based, with stats taking a backseat. When there is an RPG that employs MMO-style “real time” combat that is basically staggered turns, it’s hard for me to enjoy it. Instead, I enjoy the rigidity of the turn-based style, and the reaction-based combat of real-time. I enjoy them separately, though, not together.

In addition to my qualms with its combat systems, I was both amazed and disappointed by Dragon Age's story elements. While I fully understand BioWare’s decision to leave out voice acting for the protagonist (and applaud the performances of its many actors, even those playing minor roles), it seemed like they just gave your character no personality. While you speak through text choices, they could have put some effort into animating your character, whether in response to your choices, or just passively fidgeting during the exchanges. I often had the feeling that my character was just a statuette in a conversation, occasionally blinking his responses to dialogue via morse code. The general voice acting is very well done, though, and I enjoyed most of the exchanges with the game.  However, even the supporting characters don’t seem to move very well during conversation. They move (with the small handful of canned animations) more when they speak or respond.

While there was a lot that I liked about Dragon Age, there was just as much I didn't like. Despite it's excellent title (unlike Dragon Age 2), unfortunately the game doesn't hold my interest long enough to keep me playing to the end. Perhaps some day, I will be able to handle the negatives enough to fully appreciate Dragon Age.  For now, I’ll stick to the Mass Effect series as my BioWare wheelhouse of choice.


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