Dragon Age Review

I loved the Baldur’s Gate series of games; this type of thoughtful, strategic, group-based (almost RTS) RPG is one of my favourite styles of games. Dragon Age promised to be the spiritual successor to Baldur’s gate, and I think to a great extent it lived up to this promise. In many ways it is an very ambitious game: creating a coherent storyline for a range of player characters with multiple story trajectories is not easy. Dragon Age is a huge game – it took me over 80 hours to complete – creating the text and managing the quality and complexity of dynamic conversations must have been an enormous task, not to mention all the other graphic and audio assets. At times a dynamic conversation breaks down – it is rare though – and at times conversation trees are repeated unnecessarily.  It was fun game to play- one of my games of the year – however, I can’t help thinking that the story wasn’t as well created and carried through the game, as they were in the Baldur’s Gate games. Dragon Age starts wonderfully well with an interesting pre-story for your character (plus training), and then moves into the game proper as your character joins the grey wardens and joins an early battle with the Dark Spawn. As a player, early in the game, you are aware of the empending doom of the world and threat of the Dark Spawn. You know of the threat of the Archdemon and that it is likely that you will have to face him/her to end the blight; this adds to the fun of the story. However, the long mid-sections of the game find you bogged down politics and hack-n-slash dungeon crawls where you can forget completely about the Archdemon and the dark army marching on the world. I think that some of the sections of the game are too long to keep the story moving and the designers could have kept the players focus more on the central narrative. By the time I had got to the end, I had turned my difficulty level down and really didn’t care so much about fighting the end boss but rather I just wanted to complete the game. Crafting a great character is not so easy first time and it may require a couple of attempts to make a character that really suits. Having a group of characters to play with makes this less of an issue than in other RPGs but as in Baldur’s Gate I came to like some of the non-player characters more than my own! There are some fantastic moments in the game though, some great surprises, and the character development is fun. One personal issue that I had was that I wished the player character spoke on my behalf though, the silence in response to a question is strange (no, I don’t say the dialog for my character!).