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Dragon hatches

I’ve been idly musing on what I might be playing in the mid December – early January window, and today I stumbled over a lovely golden egg… and it hatched. A real rare bird, too — a single-player traditional PC role-playing videogame of quality. Yes, ’tis Dragon Age: Origins, which is fluttering into the wild today. And it’s not an RPG from the game-elves in the forests of Eastern Europe either (The Witcher, Sacred, Drakensang, Arktwend…), which is where traditional fantasy RPGs still seem to be finely crafted with love and attention. It’s from Bioware.

DA‘s success was a surprise to me. Partly because I don’t suck from the tedious drip-feed of fan-boy news. And partly because I assumed back in the summer that DA would hatch as a dodo rather than as a dragon. But now we’re seeing real reviews, DA looks like a game I have to at least try — probably along with a side-order of The Saboteur. True, some feel the game is too generic and bland, say that the graphics are distinctly last-gen on the PC, and that the difficulty level is painfully variable. But at least DA isn’t crippled by console-itis on the PC, and caters very well for archers (my favourite class). There’s even a nice big wall-map in the box. Yay!

The IGN review of the PC version describes all-round depth — a maximum 80 hours of play for a Dragon Age quest-hound, backed by an equally deep story…

“Bioware is telling a tale head and shoulders above the competition. Dragon Age: Origins is deep, complex, and mighty. … The whole story is steeped in a grand mythology that already feels as old as the hills”

Depth is also well handled in terms of character levelling, as IGN reports that it’s a…

“a game that remains steadfastly demanding right the way through the entire campaign”

Is this the fantasy RPG “done right” that we’ve always wanted ever since Morrowind? It depends if you veer toward loving Morrowind‘s alien world, or toward the safe generic fantasy tropes of Tolkien, I guess. But it’s going to be interesting finding out. The PC Gamer review of DA (warning: huge plot-spoilers throughout!), another name I respect, calls it the “RPG of the decade”.

Just one drawback: “three-foot high spiders“…

da-spiders
Actual real-world retail player screenshot. Low-detail setting, by the look of it.

da-spiders2
Spiders not quite as horrible as this official screenshot (mis)led us to believe, though.

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