Dragon Age: Origins has been hailed as the spiritual successor to Baldurs Gate. I can see kind of where that is coming from however I felt it more akin to Mass Effect in ancient times.
That isn’t a bad thing though. Mass Effect proved to be one of the Xbox 360 games that I have pumped an awful lot of hours into (despite the retarded achievements that refuse to unlock for completing the majority of the game with certain characters even though I’ve done almost everything I possibly could find – but that’s another story!).
The story is top notch and the amount of audio in the game is phenomenal. The chatter between team-mates had me grinning from ear to ear on more than one occasion and the general script itself is excellently performed. It had me hooked from the very beginning to the end. The various starting stories were great too and my second playthrough I’m looking forward to seeing what differences it has on the experience.
Dragon Age on the Xbox 360 does suffer from some poor graphics assets at times. Overall though I think the laziness of the port in that respect (and the lack of top-down view you apparently get on the PC) is made up for by the rest of the game. The story flows very well and the side-quests tend to be different enough to keep you interested in doing them. The integrated quest/codex is an encyclopaedia of information and background to the game and one of my favourite things ‘borrowed’ and then enhanced from Mass Effect.
Switching between characters is easy enough with the bumpers and for the most part the AI does a half-decent job of controlling the other party members according to the tactics setup. The only issues I tended to fault was that the ‘Healer’ build of Wynn had Arcane Bolt added by default so she was constantly out of mana and that to stop AI suicide runs you have to run without ‘aggressive’ tactics on the tanks causing (particularly on the mage and rogue) my main char to be the first target of the enemies often meaning the tanks would take on the melee in range but the nastier ranged mobs would still batter me down to within an inch of my life pretty quickly. Still, compared to Mass Effect and KOTOR, I think it is a marked improvement.
Combat itself is pretty fluid with the pausing option available to fly through the characters and add a command for them to carry out if needed. To be honest I found they did an okay job and as my only full run through so far was with a rogue I didn’t need to keep re-positioning the AI for back-stab bonuses which I hear can be another AI failing. I tended to need to consume to odd health pot for them as the AI tactics list wasn’t getting to it fast enough (I am aware the higher up the list the task, the higher priority it gets) but mostly I was able to just play my main character which suited me perfectly.
The achievements when compared to Mass Effect are much more forgiving and fun to achieve. No codex based ones, no collect so many of this ones and best of all none of the x% completed with x team member. I also preferred the like/dislike system of your team-mates which was prevalent in Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and the removal of the good/evil karma from KOTOR and Mass Effect. Getting the romances going was good and thank god for gifts which correct any disastrous personal conversations (my female rogue couldn’t put a foot in the right place with Morrigan!). A much better system overall as it negated having to save before each conversation because a response was sarcastic/not said as you thought it would be interpreted by the opposite char thus destroying your good/bad karma goals. If you messed up with a teamie you could just give them a few gifts. Nice.
I’m looking forward to my next playthrough and eager to go down the other paths available