I spend all my life being a boy, so normally choose to be a girl when I’m tasked with slogging through yet another Role Playing Game. It’s not that I want to be a girl, it’s just that I’d might as well save the world and see what I’d look like in a dress at the same time. My character in Dragon Age: Origins, then, is a female member of nobility who hangs around with really badly acted friends who all sound like they’ve got plums up their corsets and a creepy dad who seems all too keen on forcing some ginger haired teenager onto me.
To be fair, I’m kinda glad I’m not a girl.
Still, Dragon Age: Origins at least gives you the choice, and then styles the rest of the story around your initial decisions you make when building up your character. So, aiming for goodness and virtue (and wonderful jawbones) meant I started in a lovely grand castle and had to fanny around looking for someone whilst battling genre stapled such as giant rats and angry grandmothers who really does need to get a few pies down her. Daft ‘introductory quests’ aside, it does all kick off pretty quickly and as you’d expect you won’t be asked to sit down and knit all day (or whatever it is that girls do).
No, you’ll be fighting. It’s not real fighting, though, because Dragon Age: Origins is an RPG, so you’ll be queuing up actions, juggling characters and shifting inventory around to ensure that your hit points outweight the – well – you know, it’s an RPG. It’s all in realtime, which is confusing because it doesn’t really fight like a realtime action game or a turn-based strategy, it’s somewhere in between where characters swing swords like real people but don’t feel the need to actually make contact. Worked in KOTOR, not so much here, and they don’t feel the need to look very good whilst they’re doing all this, either.
Oddly, Dragon Age: Origins looks worse than I’d expected it to, although I have only really just begun the game (hence this being a First Level) – characters are rather poorly animated, especially up close, textures are rough, polygons sticking out of things like shields and barrels the likes of which I’ve not seen for a while. But, yeah, this is looking like being a massive game so in that case I can forgive some of the lack of finesse in the minutiae. I don’t like the ‘acting’ though – respected character actors or not, there’s uncomfortable gaps between each line and the deliveries are as wooden as the big pointy round thing on my back.
I feel really bad about this. I really wanted Dragon Age: Origins to be awesome (and it has been five years) but the look of it reminds me of Oblivion rather than anything released after. I’m still at the early stages though and I’m hopeful things are going to get much better – after all everyone else seems to think it’s an amazing game and if the atmosphere picks up it could be a really engaging game. A poor beginning though, at least with the Origin I selected, but lets hope that all changes once I get properly into the story.
Truth is, I should have just picked a bloke and I’d already be out in the wild cracking skulls…