Dragon Age: Origins — Great Game or GREATEST Game?

My in-laws bought me two games for Christmas, both of which were high on my little-kid-wish-list, and both of which I expected would keep me well occupied for the next year. In this expectation, I do not believe I will be disappointed, except that Dragon Age is so wonderful I can scarcely leave.

I’ve got over ninety hours into the game so far in about a month, which is flippin’ crazy. 52 of that was my first play through over winter break, so it’s not like I had work or anything, but in the 3-4 weeks since then my gaming has become no less focused. I’m very close to beating the game a second time, and I’m about 1/4 through on a third character already. The game demands at least five full play throughs to satisfy my role-playing desires.

Dragon Age appeals to me for a few different reasons, and they’re not ones that appeal to everyone. I know at least one person who hasn’t enjoyed it (though as far as I’m concerned, he never gave the game a fair shake–I don’t think he even made it past the introduction), and it’s certainly not for everyone. But there are two things that you may have loved when you were a bit younger, and if you loved them then I think Dragon Age will nestle comfortably into your arms. These two things are Baldur’s Gate and Choose-Your-Own Adventure books.

Baldur’s Gate was a role-playing game some 10-15 years ago where you could control one character and fight battles in real time or pause and control each character individually. Your party would range up to five members, each with unique voice acting (though full conversations weren’t generally recorded, but when you clicked on them or they did something they would vocalize that) and personalities. It was good sized world, and the expansions only made it better. I can’t recount how many hundreds of hours I played BG. Dragon Age has been touted as the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate, and it is.

No one but me seemed to check out the Choose-Your-Own Adventure books from the library, but I always really enjoyed them. In particular, I enjoyed seeing the different paths available, flipping back and forth through the book to see what might have been if I’d made a decision differently. The multitude of possibilities fascinated me, and that’s what keeps me playing Dragon Age long after I know the overarching theme and plot. I know that at the end the good guys will win, but I don’t know how that will play out. Different alliances can be forged, different people can join or leave your party, and there are many different things to experience. I keep playing the game over to see what would change if I did something differently. Dragon Age doesn’t disappoint. Its art is beautiful, its voice acting is really good, and its decisions are myriad and challenging. It’s like reading a book and getting to interact with it at the same time.

The only problem with it is 1) I haven’t played Assassin’s Creed 2 as much as I would like to have, though I’m also really enjoying that game, 2) I haven’t written as much as I want, though I don’t regret this too much considering how stressful the last few weeks have been and how playing a game on the weekend has rejuvenated me, and 3) Mass Effect 2 is coming out in a couple of days, which is another life-consuming-OMG-let-me-replay-it-over-and-over game. ME2 and DA:O are by the same company, by the way.

Anyways, yeah… that’s what I’ve been up to. If you have been wondering whether to check out Dragon Age or not, this probably won’t convince you if none of the other nerds on the Internet frothing at the mouth over how great it is hasn’t already pushed you into trying it. But I wanted to express my continued appreciation, excitement, and joy over it. Good times.

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