The Dragon Age Origins Journal: I Quit


Read journal #1 here first.

Sometimes I wonder just why I write some articles under my real name that I know are going to get me absolutely crucified on the internet, for all the world to see.

And though many will call me “idiotic” rather than “brave” for my stand against the universally beloved Dragon Age Origins, I’m going to write this anyways, and tell you why this is the first game in eons I’ve literally returned to the store without beating.

Let me start by saying that through this experience, it’s become clear to me that this style of game, the live-action/turn-based mixed RPG, is simply not for me. I like live-action games with RPG elements, such as Oblivion, Fallout, Diablo and Bioware’s own Mass Effect, which happens to be one of my favorite games of all time. I also can appreciate some completely turn based RPGs like Final Fantasy and Pokemon (yes, Pokemon is fundamentally awesome, *** you). This style however, I cannot stomach, and it makes for some of the most uncomfortable game play I’ve ever experienced.

I spent my entire last journal chronicling just how in my opinion, Bioware royally ****ed up the character interactions of Dragon Age, mainly due to too many confusing dialogue options and the fact that the main character is voiceless and therefore completely unsympathetic. Even after more hours of play, I stand by those statements, but now it’s time to tackle the rest of the game’s many issues.


The game in no way looks this sharp.

Let me get the worst out of the way first. Visually, Dragon Age is one of the worst looking games I have probably ever seen on the Xbox 360. I’m not sure how exactly a company takes a full step backwards from their previous game in terms of graphical quality, but Bioware certaintly managed to do it here, as the textures are muddy and blurred, and the character animations are creepy and robotic and the game just looks unfinished all around. I still remember being in an elfin campsite, and looking out from a guard tower to see a bunch of jagged triangular points in the mist below that I thought surely couldn’t be trying to masquerade as trees. Simply put, the game looks last generation.

And even more puzzling is with all the processing power skimping on graphics, it’s STUNNING how much load time is in the game. I can forgive a game for not being open world, but if you need an eight second load screen every time you open the door to a house? You’ve got some serious issues.


There, that’s more like it. Foggy, blurry, foolishness.

Another major problem with the non-linear world map is the schizophrenic offering of objective indicators. In a normal game like this, if you make a quest active, you will then go to your map and see an arrow point to the next area or part of town that you need to go to in order to complete the mission. This can range from a simple arrow, where you figure out your own way there, to Fable 2’s lighted breadcrumb trail, which literally holds your hand until you get there.

The bread crumb trail may be going a bit overboard (though I personally loved it), but the fact remains that for unknown reasons, these kinds of indicators only appear about 30% of the time when taking a quest. I might even understand if the game had NO indicators of any kind, and made you simply sort through your codex and mission objectives list to figure things out for yourself. That would be immensely annoying (and it’s what you have to do 70% of the time in the game), but why then, put in indicators for some missions and not for others? It’s just bafflingly inconsistent and I don’t know what the added benefit is of leaving these kinds of indicators out. I just want to do the quest, which you can make as hard as you want, but don’t make it a huge pain in the ass to even FIND the mission in question.

Speaking of hard, now we go to my most puzzling complaint about the game, the difficulty. I’m incredibly confused when I read far and wide about how the difficulty had been dumbed down for the Xbox version of the game, because literally, I don’t think I have EVER died so many times when playing a video game, and once again, this complaint stems from inconsistency.

I understand the tried and true RPG practice of “don’t do this mission yet until you level up” and getting raped by high level enemies until you learn the lesson. In Dragon Age however, the difficulty curve is nothing short of a rollercoaster, as one second I’m sprinting through five rounds of a dwarven gladiator tournament like I’m fighting five year olds, and then I’m dying 30 times in a row trying to kill a puny dwarven bandit leader in the VERY NEXT QUEST.


“God mom! Let me wear black if I want to okay?”

This often applied to any mission, as in any level you might encounter a room full of enemies you dispense of in two seconds, but then the very next room contains unholy craziness that incinerates you on the spot. A sub-boss in one level might turn out to be leagues harder than the final boss right after it. My most frustrating experience with the difficulty curve was one dungeon that I worked my way 98% of the way through, then I just hit a wall. There was a sub-boss that just simply was not beatable. Not like, if I re-strategized, I could maybe pull a win out of my ass, no, it was just physically impossible. And after about my fiftieth death, I had to walk all the way out of the level, go do an entire other quest line, come all the way back after leveling up five times, and I STILL barely beat him. It’s just maddening, and due the lack of consistent (there’s that word again) autosave in the game, you find yourself needing to manually save after every skirmish just in case the next room is full of something that’s going to eat your ass for lunch.

So why exactly do I suck so much? Honestly, I have no idea. Yes, I may not be a hardcore RPG player, but I’ve never experienced anything like this in all the RPGs I’ve played over the years. Yes, there were difficult areas, but I always got past them in the end, but I’ve never been so frustrated so often as I have in Dragon Age. It’s like when you finally beat that really hard boss in a game, but you’ve tried so many times that at this point you’re not even happy when you beat him, rather you’re just exhausted and angry. That’s what I felt every twenty minutes when playing this game.

Part of why I feel this happens is the party management system which I HEAR is better in the PC version, but sure sucks ass here. You can only really control one of your party members at a time, and even though you can program your computers with different fighting strategies they’re supposed to employ when you’re not controlling them, more often than not they will ALWAYS die if left to their own devices, and during the heat of battle, you find yourself frantically switching between characters just to force them to remember to take health potions before they croak. If you spend more than two seconds having them do an actual move against another enemy, by the time you switch back to your other character, he will likely be dead at the hands of the computer who’s supposed to be controlling him.

Maybe there’s some secret simple way to make your party not suck, but after hours and hours of fiddling, I just couldn’t figure it out, and most battles always ended up with everyone except my dog being dead, due to his exceptional fortitude, but it was just depressing to watch him snap at the ankles of a room full of ancient fire demons as his life slowly whittled down to nothing.


You can do it Chips!

I’m not willing to blame my hatred of this game on just me sucking at it, which many of you will say. I’ve sucked at plenty of games before, but I always found the will to overcome. Dragon Age simply broke my spirit, something that I can’t ever recall happening in a video game since like, Battletoads.

I just see incontrovertible design flaws in the game that I feel could easily be fixed to make the game so much better. Better graphics, better dialogue options, a lead character voice, better computer AI, better objective indicators, a smoother difficulty curve. These all are pretty major issues that for me, all added up to make this game completely unplayable.

I fully expect none of your to agree with me here, as I know I’m in the vast minority of critics and players alike here, but if I muzzle myself because I fear popular opinion, what kind of website would I be running here? So bring the pain if you must.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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  1. I actually quit playing it after two sittings. It seemed promising and felt like Kotor on some level, but I just couldn’t get into it and went back to playing Beatles Rock Band and Fallout 3 with my 4th character.

    It just doesnt stand out of do as much as I would of expected from Bioware. I’ll just wait for Mass Effect 2.

  2. Great review. I’m sure lovers of the game will claim that you rated it poorly simply because you weren’t good at it, but that’s clearly not the case, as you’ve pointed out many of the game’s flaws.

    I’m going to stay away – I never cared for the real-time/turn-based hybrid style of RPGs…I like strictly turn based or strictly action with RPG elements. The hybrid just seems sort of silly.

  3. While I agree on some points, especially about the difficulty, however I wouldn’t like to call it hard as much as challenging. I’ve come across many sections in the game where I’ve felt like quitting but after a while and a couple of tactic changes later the fight is almost like a breeze (not that I haven’t died my fair share of times).
    And while the graphics might not be the best I’ve seen (it kind of reminds me of Neverwinter Nights, and not even the second one but the first!) it does what it’s supposed to and I don’t really feel like it’s dragging the game down at all.
    Granted, I have been playing the PC version but can the difference really be that big?
    Either way it’s refreshing seeing someone not throwing praises all over Bioware for once 🙂

  4. I bought this game because Fallout 3 only took me a couple weeks to play all the way through and explore everything. So I was looking for something that wouldnt end so abruptly, something I could really sink my teeth into. So far I’ve invested probably 8 to 10 hours into DAO and I’ve only wiped out completely once. I think its great game so far but I have just a couple complaints of my own.

    First, I wish that the combat mechanics were either completely turn based (maybe like FFXII?), or completely real time… like when you push a button to attack your character actually swings his/her wep and attacks. The melee combat in DAO just feels clunky for some reason. Like when I push a button to attack, its hard to tell if its actually going to work because I might be facing the wrong way or I might be stunned and I just didn’t notice it. The other thing that frustrates me about the combat is that when you select a target to attack, you move slower. So if the target is running away, its really hard to catch up to it in attack mode. Lastly, and also pertaining to the combat, Ive noticed that sometimes I’ll turn on my melee attacks and then the enemy will come running at me, then just run right by me to go attack something that was behind me. Thats it. They can just run right by you even if you’re attacks are turned on and focused on them. So I’ll have my flurry ready to go and when the enemy rushes my way, I’ll try and time it correctly, but then they just keep on truckin. The only thing that gets damaged is my energy level.

    Graphics-wise, I’m okay with this game. I don’t look too much into the graphics and I think they’re good enough in DAO to be scraping by. I’m really more interested in the story line and the mechanics of gameplay (the melee combat mechanics being my biggest gripe so far but I’m really hoping to get used to it soon).

    So yeah, those are pretty much my only issues with the game. The lack of character dialogue doesn’t bother me and I usually play the nice-guy role so I get what i want out of the people I encounter.

    Paul, you briefly mentioned the party management system but you didn’t really hit on the talent trees or leveling system. Did you like the talent choices presented to you each time you leveled? I like how pretty much every time you level it’s not just “oh ok, now i’ve got an extra 3 points in strength and 2 points in dexterity so I should deal more damage,” but rather that and the addition of new abilities/attacks, and those should be tailored to the type of equipment your char uses and what kind of attacks you like to use as a gamer.

    You know, maybe the graphics aren’t so hot because Bioware spent all their time on the epic cinematic trailer?

  5. @madison –

    I’m totally with you – the more I think about it, the less I like the hybrid style fighting system. In my opinion, it should be one or the other unless some really groundbreaking new system has been developed. The one that DAO utilizes feels like the half-assed it a bit.

  6. I only wish you could trick people by making fake stuff that later explodes once you sell it to them…things that are very rare and might frustrate the other player so much as to drop all their things on the grounds and quit the game on the spot.

  7. Also, I realize FFXII isnt a traditional turn-based RPG, but there’s wait time in between attacks, which makes it feel sort of turn-based. FFXII would probably be the best hybrid rpg fighting system I’ve seen thus far, but that doesn’t make it my favorite

  8. @illeaturfamily

    In terms of the talent trees, I’m pretty tired of games that don’t let you reallocate your stat points (which is almost all of them), making you play through the game at least two or three times before you even understand what sucks and what doesn’t. I wasted half my points because I put a bunch of stuff into sword and shield, then changed my mind and wanted to have two swords. I just didn’t like the feel of sword and shield, but lo and behold I’ve just sunk six stat points into crap I’m now never going to use again. Awesome.

    I just finished Borderlands which let you change your stat points whenever you felt like it, and that was way, way more gratifying. I understand that doing it this way forces players to play through the game more, but from a usability perspective it’s just annoying as shit.

  9. Paul,

    I know how you feel. I accidentally put a point into “two-handed” because for some reason I thought this would apply to me using two swords lol. It was a total brain-fart on my part but the frustration is there nonetheless. I started in the dual-wielding tree and now I’m stuck there forever. Re-spec’ing can be a lifesaver sometimes. Such as it is in WoW, when you decide you want to go PvP instead of PvE for a while. You can pay a small fee to respec and thus make your character widely more effective in whichever manner you’re going to play the game.

  10. I totally agree with Tim.

    I’m still going for that game, should be 45% by now, but I’ve lowered the difficulty to “easy”. Too many deaths and I wanted to get more into the story^^

    With my second char I’ll try again on “medium”

  11. Honestly, I think alot of your problems with the game is platform based. This type of game is meant to be played on the PC. It’s like playing command and conquers on the xbox.

    I also noticed that you mentioned alot of action RPGs, they are a rather recent trend in gaming. I’m sure people will bring out games like the original fallout or elder scroll series, but action RPG didn’t really take off on the console until Fable.

    That being said, once again, this game is meant to be reminiscent of the likes of ice wind dale and baldur’s gate. I really enjoyed these games. The pause only works on PC, and you really have to pause to strategize. I still remember there was this leach boss in baldur’s gate II that would literally destroy all my high level party members. I never figured out how to beat it…

    To conclude, I don’t think your assessment of this game is unfair. It’s just not your cup of tea. I do hope that you at least try the PC version and form a better opinion of the game.

  12. Does the XBOX version not have a tactics window? I play on the PC and if you take the time to set up your own tactics and make sure your characters are in the proper stance (ranged, cautious, aggressive) then I found I could leave them on their own and play with my character only.

    Again this might be a problem with the XBOX version, but you shouldn’t have to switch to a character to use a potion, just set up a tactic like If Self Health < 50% Then Use most powerful healing poultice.

  13. @illeaturfamily-“You know, maybe the graphics aren’t so hot because Bioware spent all their time on the epic cinematic trailer?”

    First off, never played the game, so I have no idea how the game plays, but…

    Wouldn’t that be a violation, sacrificing game play graphics for a trailer? That’s like saying “Battlefield Earth” was bad because they made a great trailer!

  14. Honestly, you hit all the same frustrations I’ve had right on the head. It’s a shame when I have to talk myself into investing time into playing a game I just bought.

    I will say that I do enjoy the story line for the most part even if there aren’t any truly original ideas. So far my favorite quest was the Dalish Elves vs the Werewolves but then I was rather disappointed with the outcome. I think it would have been great to pick up a werewolf character but that’s just my opinion.

    I also reduced the difficulty due to the frustration of dying every other fight. At least that way I can advance the story while reducing my frustration of getting stuck fighting the same enemy over and over and getting slaughtered. Yes the terrible auto save adds to this frustration.

    Graphically, I was disappointed mainly because I read a couple of reviews that simply gushed over how gorgeous the game is. So maybe that’s actually my fault for expecting more. The trailers were great though.

    One more thing about the difficulty. Once, when my characters were just starting out and very low level, I was traveling around the map and was hit with a random encounter where my party encountered about a dozen drakes. I need not describe how quickly and badly that ended. What was worse was that I hadn’t saved before traveling. Coupled with the sporadic autosave, I was forced to replay roughly 15 minutes of game and dialogue in order to get back to traveling again.

  15. Your review was 100% spot on. I invested about 23 1/2 hrs into this game and I believe you threw in the towel at about the same time I did. Every single one of your complaints were legit.

  16. I’m playing on the PS3–don’t agree with the graphics beef…I started with a rogue and was thoroughly frustrated within about 4 hours. Switched to a mage and have gotten really far on normal with a reasonable number of party deaths. (Party deaths occured when I would rush or do something careless)…We’re all entitled to our opinions, but I disagree that the protaganist needs a voice…I choose my reply from a list and get to listen to him enunciate each syllable?…waste of time!

  17. Agree with all your points, I’ve enjoyed certain aspects of the game but the difficulty curve is really, really off… even at the point now that I’ve gathered all the allies and gone to the Landsmeet I’m thinking that I have a kickass character and squad.

    I run into a fight with 6 or 7 no name guards in a cellar and I am literally killed in seconds over and over again trying different tactics each time, the only way to get through the fight was to switch to easy and I haven’t switched back because dying so easily at this point in a game is not right.

    I’m nearly level 20 how in the hell does a no name guard stump me!?!?

  18. Valid concerns all, though most of what you mentioned didn’t bother me as much as it clearly did you.

    The no-main-character voice I can understand, simply as a matter of practicality on Bioware’s part. In Mass Effect (a game I very much enjoy), hearing Shepard be a real character was great, and I was wowed by having the PC come to life. However, in that case only two voice actors were required: one for the male and one for a female Cmdr. Shepard. In DA:O I’d assume a total of 6 voice actors going through the dialogue would be required: one for each gender of each of the 3 races. Considering the main character does the most talking out of anyone (being involved in all conversations), that’d be a lot of work. A shame, sure, considering the wealth of other voice-work, but it’s a corner-cut I can live with.

    As far as graphics go: The armor clipping through itself is about the only thing I’ve really noticed (especially the heavy plate), but I’ve been more than content with how the art’s been portrayed. It’s not top-of-the-line, no, but I certainly don’t find it *bad*.

    I’ll agree on the schizophrenic difficulty (and since I played a Dwarf Commoner I remember that Crime Boss fight). But so far I’ve been able to get past everything after a few tries, so I haven’t been too frustrated. I have the PC version, so perhaps the party tactics stuff is better than for the 360; I’ve noticed that heals, health potions, and whatnot seem to be used by non-controlled party members pretty regularly.

    So I guess I haven’t been turned off too much by it; I’ve logged about 15 hours on it so far. Sometimes fun to hear the alternative viewpoint though. And hey, there’s always Mass Effect 2.

  19. I am going to also agree with you but I do have some points as well. First of all you didn’t mention the random encounters that just kill you for no reason, like traveling from your camp to one of the starting quests. Why bother with these encounters when you are going to be fighting when you get where you are going. They add nothing to my experience of the game and just really slow down the progress. Also although I have only tried 2 of the starting quests I don’t understand why developers think adding in tons of little fights with almost no meaningful treasure but the potions to make up for the ones you used in the fight and long convoluted paths to the eventual goal make a game “longer” I would rather have a 20 hour game that is interesting than a 40 hour game with 20 hours of filler fights. I wish they had given generic responses with the proper emotional context and then let the character speak the appropriate line, giving you a better understanding of what you are clicking on and a surprise when you hear what you are actually saying, for example “Sarcastic comment friendly” or “Sarcastic comment hostile” rather than the ambiguous responses they give you. Just a few additional points that made me also call it quits and head for Assassin’s creed 2

  20. I totally agree with you, I already was disappointed with TES oblivion, But that game is far worse, people may like it but i prefer Japanase Rpg, Not a game wit that crappy system, Just dont like!

  21. i played the game on the ps3, and yes, the load time is ridiculous. it deterred me from visiting too many places over and ransacking everything. i found myself planning ahead and just visiting the places i absolutely have to and as long as its on the way, its all good. but really, yes, it does get incredibly annoying, but understandable.
    if you think about all the stuff that’s going on, what it has to load, and so forth, its understandable i believe.
    i can definitely appreciate the graphics. perhaps i didn’t pay that much attention to detail, but i thought the graphics are wonderful for today, and its real. [not quite the amount of blood splattered all the time, but its relatively real] of course the graphics can improve, but if i compare it to oblivion and all that, for sure, doa is more appreciative.
    i died plenty of times, too. but at this point, i think its just a matter of opinion.
    i like the varying degrees of difficulty and always think it manageable. i mean, like you said, you can just go do another quest, level up and then come back. but that only happens if you deter from the line of progress the characters suggest. e.g. i went to brecelian forest and got the elves instead of going to redcliff despite alistair’s suggestion. yeah, i didn’t kill the skeletons at the tombstone and all that, but they were side quests. i managed to follow through on the main quest easily enough and came back later to take vengeance on the cursed skeletons.
    it really isn’t that bad the difficulty to say that you don’t get the feeling of success upon defeating something difficult.
    but again, xbox360, ps3, and pc is varying in reviews it seems.
    [i just wanted to defend doa a little because i disagreed on some of the points you made]

  22. No one seems to say anything about the limited exploration (almost linear) routes and maps. Oblivion and Fallout 3 are perhaps 10 to 30 times better than DA:O, in that you have huge maps to explore and real interaction with the environment. The gameplay is more like Mass Effect or KOTOR… but I don’t feel it is any better of a game than any of those titles.

    I waited a long time for this game and I was very dissapointed.

    I wanted to point out to anyone who didn’t figure it out by playing around. That in DA:O if you set the options right, you can hold down the action bar and scroll through your whole party using character change and make all your moves for each (round). This works much better than when it pauses until you make a selection, then goes… and you have to switch chars and do it again. If any of that made any sense to anybody.

  23. You’ve inspired me to create my own blog on a similar note. I was stoked to get Dragon Age, because the commercials on tv, made it look amazing (not to mention finally an RPG for PS3), and critics on crack gave it a 9 out of 10 or whatever it was…
    So here I am running out the door to spend my hard earned cash to play an outstanding rpg.
    I’m totally sucked into the storyline to start off. Thinking to myself, this is an interesting concept, 2 guys die, I become one of the lone gray wardens left.
    Then, everything just went downhill. The leveling is ridiculous. You would imagine yourself with an incredible amount of constitution and wicked armor being unstoppable, a tank, but alas, you are not, you’re still just a pile of death on the floor.
    Anyway back on topic, after the “Joining” the storyline took a crap.
    There were what? 3 storyline quests?
    I’ve never been so disappointed, here I am plowing through as much as possible trying to level, and along the way slowly completing required storyline pieces, then next thing you know I’m on the “Final Onslaught”
    I can get past the sub par graphics, and load times, and a whole list of other things….
    But I just can’t get past the story… I mean really, if this was a novel it would be 10 pages max.
    Chapter 1
    “Characters Name” kills a bunch of people, becomes a Gray Warden, picks up a few recruits, gets laid a couple of times, heads out to fight the Blight, and the end.

    I want my money back!

    Bioware, you let me down… after KOTOR you wouldn’t think they could fail but it appears I was wrong.

  24. Hey,I just beat the game.. Then i can’t travel anywere or yes..I can travel to Pary Camp and another fuck thing i can’t Remember!If it is so that you can’t travel anymore to Denerim or somewhere the Biowere suck ***Becuse i really need to get to lvl 20 im at 17 .. I want a Anchivemt

  25. I enjoyed this game. Now, I’m probably going to get bashed here for saying that, in my opinion, Fallout 3 sucked so bad, I wanted to hang myself while playing it.

    Honestly now, why is everyone complaining about the graphics? For crying out loud. Do you play a game because it has good graphics, or do you play it because it has a good story and good enough graphics to get by. The graphics could have been A LOT worse than they were, you know. I’d rather play a game because the story intrigues me and I like the combat system over liking graphics. A game is no fun whatsoever if you’re just playing for perfect hills, well built mountians and outstanding character drawings. Come on, people. You can’t destroy this game because the graphics aren’t perfect.

    As far as the difficulty goes.. I’ve never had a problem with getting past a level. Heck, I took the archdemon out without using any of my army. A lot of you are judging this game and you haven’t even gotten into it.

    You’re all entitled to your opinion, and I respect that, but far out. Could you review any harsher? Sorry if there’s any spelling errors, but I wrote this on an iPod. If I was on a computer this would be much larger.

    And my god, I was so annoyed that I couldn’t free roam after I beat the game. So. Annoyed.

  26. I have to agree. I just came from the most frustrating battles ever. The whole real time-esque combat system sucks donkey balls. I’m on the PS3 but help me out here. I’m clicking to attack some moron behind a barricade. Do I attack the barricade to get through? Is there a message to tell me he’s unreachable? No I stand there like an idiot getting ass raped by the second.I try use my d-pad to cycle through my targets but no barricade shows up. I stiffen and keel over.

    I can’t tell you how many times that has happened. Its the equivalent of having a one-legged epileptic as your hero. Now I understand that I’m not good at manipulating the game mechanic for combat. I also understand that this is the most unforgiving and one of the most unintuitive game combat mechanics I have come across. I his the attack buttons and maybe 4-5 seconds later my idiot attacks the wrong dude. Walks right by my intended target and attacks the f’n janitor. Or walks into a room, sees a baddy, moves towards him, then notices a trap so he squats down to disarms it while enduring fiery rain from hell. Better yet, he acknowledges the trap with some witty remark like “Its plain to see, really” then walks right over the trap and gets nailed.

    Seriously. I feel like I’m dragging a retard around by a leash in this game.

  27. Huh. Guess the mouse really helps with this game… the system is nothing special, but it’s quite manageable. I’ve only had Morrigan wander off to the other side of the map because of a pathfinding error once. The pause key is god for tactical combat though, and it sounds like you’re missing out on that one.

    Not sure about consoles – never tried it on any of them, don’t even own a NGC, but the graphics are stunning on my PC. Could just be localisation issues making them look hazy on your X-box. As for loading screens… back when Dawn of War first came out, we were waiting 15-30 minutes for a map to load. Two minutes for Orzimmar, including the shops, is hardly something to complain about.

    As for retraining… why is this such an issue? It’s a role playing game in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons. You pick your character concept (from a list due to the limitations of CRPGs) and stick with it – the Grey Warden doesn’t have some great magic to let them suddenly relearn years of training, it makes no sense to suddenly be crap at sword-and-boarding and be an expert dual wielder.

  28. I played this game for many hours now, and I have asked the same questions you do in your review. I know what you are talking about but still love the game, why ??

    I cheated. I almost never cheated, but I thought it would be a wast of the game if it would get me frustraded like you said. So I just cheated to give my character a few more ‘enhanced’ spells. With this spells I still had to play with, let us say, complex strategies, but I made a chance.

    The game became more varied (if this is a word, ..) and interesting. I always skip the cutscenes and dialogues.

    I think with small changes this game would be a very good game. – not like Far Cry 2, where the gameplay totally ruined the great graphics and world (hehe, a risque to compare a shooter with RPG)

  29. the only reason the graphics arent “amazing” is because it is such a big game 36 hours of gameplay plus 6 different playthroughs, ya, just look at how big GTA is and the graphics have always been awful in that

  30. i agree with some arguments in the article, i got frustated with some quests and was walking through the whole map to find some clues, wtf.
    a few days ago i tried to beat the broodmother (or whatever her name is) in orzammar but the bitch killed me, argghh, maybe my character is too weak. 🙁

  31. You so accurately described my feelings on this game. And after hearing so many good things, it really bummed me out. I could probably deal with the abrupt changes in diffuculty if the autosave was regulated better. I mean, how did they pick the moments for autosaves anyways? I went into this castle, fought my way through its multiple areas, went out of it, then died in a battle on my way to a new area, and that entire time it didn’t autosave once. I know realistically I should just save myself, but when involved in the game I sometimes forget. I need autosaves to help offset my terrible memory.

  32. Its such a shame idiotic Gen Y kids can’t play a proper game these days.
    You give them something where ÝES you have to think about how to approach a battle and YES you do have to think about how to level up and suddenly its the worst game evaaar.
    I do agree with the unflattering console port, but this is really something you have to play on a PC to see in its full glory.
    Suck it up, this isn’t a game where you can go in guns blazing. It’s a fantastic, immersful and challenging game the likes of which are rarely seen in this age of Shovelware.

  33. I couldn’t agree more with you. I tried the PC version of the game and found the party AI to be so bad that the game is just not worth playing. The story sounded compelling and customization options exiting but they are trumped by poor AI. They lied when they called this game a real time strategy game it is a turn based game. That is the only way this game can be played by pausing the game after every second of action to delegate tasks. If any party member is left to their own devices they die within seconds because they don’t do anything. After fighting 2 mobs in this fashion you get tired and bored of this tedium.

  34. yeah i’ve had enough of it now. Everything Paul said i agree with plus i have more to add. I concider myself to be a ‘hardcore’ gamer having worked my way from the spectrum ZX to NES/GAMEBOY to SNES/ SEGA MEGADRIVE to PLAYSTATION to PLAYSTATION 2 and my latest console XBOX 360.

    In all that time i have never played a game with such confusing controls, menu’s and quest structure before this one. I am literally a muddle of fingers and long pauses as i try to figure out simple things like where to go next or how to judge wether one piece of armour is better than another. even selecting a healing potion mid battle seems to be hard work.

    Overall the game is quite boring. usually i am excited to get to the next chapter/level/ mission during gameplay but i couldn’t care less with this game. I don’t paticularly care about the wooden characters either.

    I just can’t be bothered to soldier through this uninspiring, muddled, confusing game anymore and i will be trading it in next time i am near a game store.

  35. I share many of your criticisms.

    What surprised me most about this game was that it’s literally just a bunch of “rooms” with invisible walls set up around them that sometimes have no clear correlation with the actual terrain.

    Sometimes, you enter a fight and the enemies seem to be in an entirely different league. You load and suddenly, the same enemies with the same team and the same tactics can be defeated easily. Am I supposed to sacrifice a chicken to the game’s virtual 16-sided dice every now and then?

    The inventory management turned outfitting your characters into a real chore. Where other RPGs you’re eager to collect just 100 more gold so you can finally buy the “Big Mofo Armor +10”, I always avoided having another go at “classify 20 items for 6 people, repeat for each of boots, body, gloves, helmet, sword and shield” as long I possibly could.

    After finishing the game, I’d have to say that while BioWare must have invested a lot of time building all those dialogue trees and special paths depending on who’s in your party and what you decided in the past, the actual gameplay is pretty unimpressive. I like the story, but at no point did I feel myself immersed in it.

    The scale of the battles was also very laughable. The king’s army was what? You see about 40 armored guys fighting about 40 darkspawn. In the final battle it’s an estimated 75-100 darkspawn. Oh help, an armed village mob is marching against us. They will surely destroy the entire world. I understand — the limits of non-pre-rendered cutscenes and such — but then make it clear you’re just showing a tiny freckle of the actual battle :->

  36. I think if u gave a chance u would like it. I mean u liked oblivion (Amazing Game I still play it) and that game is a lot harder than this one. And besides they didn’t have much of a budget for this game that is why it is so choppy. And next time you feel frustrated about your RPG level of skill, don’t take it out on an awesome game.

  37. @Paul – You need more neutral and less idiot before your reviews could be considered even mildly informative. This is just you complaining about how a game isn’t exactly what you want it to be. You don’t know where your dialogue choices will lead? Tough shit. Bioware aims to provide an immersing experience. If you can’t figure out what characters like/dislike to hear than I suggest you ease off the dialogue skip, because the characters in DA:O practically spell it out for you from beginning to end. If you don’t like the visual quality then buck up and get a gaming PC. Despite your poor attempt to play it off, this review is majorly based on your lack of skill. Hard and Nightmare difficulties are the only ones anyone should be complaining about. Easy practically holds your hand and walks you through the fights, and I defeated the Archdemon on Normal without using an army.

  38. Well Paul, for a review that has been made in 2009 i would say its pretty darn good that peoples are still finding their way here. at anyhow, i agree with your post. i have played this game for almost a week of my time and now i am finally about to give it up. the main thing that really throw me off is the combat system. it is so tedious i just can’t bring myself to play it anymore. i hate how when you have 3 melee character and 1 mage. mage does a ton of damage to this big mob, since the mage’s damages are high, the big mob chases the mage, and of course the mage would run! you know they are squishy and stuff. all THIS HAPPENS while those 3 melee character just stand there like a bunch of bystanders doing nothing but stare, and there is NO WAY that i can adjust it so that they will chase the big mob and attack, they only start to take action when the big mob stand still, which means the mage will also have to stand still. i mean COME on, what kind of mechanic is this? anyway, this is not the only thing that i came across that i find irritating in this game. they call it strategy game right? well from my experience, when you have dialog fight, which one usually do in dragon age origin, you start talking to the enemy mobs first, then just right before the fight starts, your characters runs all over the place, screwing up your formation… its not like its really bad that happened, it’s just that, it is making it so hard to enjoy playing and you have to pause so many blasted times, it is just simply to the point of annoying. what’s worse, sometime they don’t even case the spell, sometimes they get knock over and sometimes there a second delay in casting, which causes the mob to run away from the character’s spell range. anyway, i am done ranting. good to get it out of my chest. i just un-installed this bloody game, i hope i don’t ever play it again. thanks for reading.

  39. Hey, I just wanted to say, while I have a vastly different opinion than yours on this game (I loved it thoroughly, actually), I can see why hold yours. It’s one of those games where I would have probably rated it a 9, but at the same time can’t really disagree with someone who rated it, say, a 5 or 6.

    All of your complaints are legitimate complaints by today’s standards, but I’d say it goes back more to your first statement; it’s just not your type of game. While all of the things you complained about might technically justify a low review, some of them are actually part of this genre, and why some people love it so much.

    First, the graphics. In games like this, graphics have never been the star, or even necessary to be stellar, and while nicer graphics wouldn’t have hurt it, the graphics it has kinda give it that edge of old-school feel in a dying breed of game. Face it, the games this game was made to image (Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale) just aren’t really being made anymore. I adored those games, and I was depressed that no other game had come out since them like them, and Diablo just wasn’t the same for me (yeah, that’s right, I liked these games more than Diablo). Anyway, this was a digression. Graphics, in my opinion, were a minor gripe for the gameplay I loved.

    Also, the inconsistent difficulty is part of it’s draws, not its flaws. While you were frustrated, fans of the genre delighted as we got to hacksaw certain enemies to bitty-bits, but still relish that next fight where they did the same to us. Call it masochistic, sure (I have played and love Dark Souls too, after all), but that difficulty spike was satisfying. In other RPGs if you want to smash enemies, you have to backtrack and fight unsatisfying battles yielding 1 or 2 experience points each, fighting the same monster you’d seen ten-gazillion times before. In Dragon Age, they just let you play around a bit before getting serious.

    And, the party AI… you’re right, it sucked, and other players are right, it was much better on the PC. In this type of game, you’re *supposed* to be controlling all of your members yourself. It’s meant to be a top-down pause, click and play. However, the click option goes away on the console, and it leaves you shuffling views, pulling a trigger more than an fps (obvious hyperbole). However, I don’t have a computer that could play this game, and while it was frustrating at times, I am extremely grateful they ported it over to a system that made it less than perfect, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to play it at all!

    As for dialogue, I fully agree with your desire for voice acting, however, I would like the options to stay the same. The conversation wheel from DA2 was just… frustrating to me. It may work for Mass Effect, but I disliked that when a certain bisexual mage hit on me, my only options were hostile, sarcastic and acceptance. I’m not hostile when I’m hit on, but nor am I gay, and the sarcastic remark was unsatisfying for a reason I don’t remember (I think because it was another one where I played along with him). Rather than those three, I would have liked a “politely decline” remark, where I’m not an ***hole homophobe or, the flip side of the coin, homosexual as well. I also like reading exactly what my character is saying, especially before he says it; more times than I can count I had to redo dialogue in DA2 just because the option simply wasn’t what I thought it would be. It may be less streamlined to give us lines of text to read before we say it, but darned if it isn’t better than having to restart the last save just because we unintentionally pissed off the king with a sarcastic remark that sounded more hostile than was intended. (Heh, overall problem with a “sarcasm” option? There’s many different types of sarcasm, and they weren’t consistent).

    For any of you who read all that, thank you for taking your time to hear my opinion, especially when it’s nearly the same length as the article itself!

  40. Don’t forget that the statement from last time, repeated here, that only Morrigan was useful is strictly false. Shield users can stun and knock down, while healing mages are often more useful than Morrigan. Most importantly, for me, was the rogue’s abillity to stun and heap on huge damage. Honestly, until I stumbled on the cheasy ability of frost casters to lock down the entire enemy team with one spell, Morrigan was a tertiary character in the party.

    Oh, and I almost never had to redo missions or fights due to party wipes.

    I read reviews from people who only played the console version, and it’s like they’re talking about an entirely different game from the one I played.

  41. I’ve never played any of the dragon age games but decided to pick 1
    & 2 up for 5 bucks each off Xbox live to try them out. I concur with every single
    point you made regarding DA origins except for the graphics issue. They’re not
    awesome but certainly aren’t a game breaker for me (much better than Oblivion, which I loved). I’m about 40% through the game and still have the desire to play it. That being said, I
    decided early on to change the game play to the easiest setting because I
    wanted to enjoy the game as much as possible and like you, found myself
    getting pissed off and frustrated at higher levels. Because of the inconsistencies with combat the game is still a bit of challenge at times even in easy mode. Thanks for the article (5years later.)

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