Dragon Age. Better late than never

7 03 2011

I finally finished Dragon Age over the weekend. About a year late, but just in time for Dragon Age 2. A few thoughts about this seminal title.

Dragon Age is clearly a callout to the game that kickstarted it all for Bioware – Baldurs Gate. The engine feels the same, the gameplay is all but identical – just with 4 party members instead of six – and it’s easily as huge as it’s ancestor. It took me 44 hours, and that’s without doing all the sidequests and exploring all the areas, or finishing any of the DLC bar Shale.

And while I was a huge fan of Baldurs Gate, Dragon’s Age left me feeling a little… empty. Oh, granted, it’s an epic yarn, one which you get to weave – I have yet to play an RPG which allows one to alter the world so sognificantly, and in that alone it deserves accolades. But what made Baldurs Gate so absolutely enthralling, was it’s incredible storyline. The dialogue, the twists and turns, the emotional tugs… Dragon’s Age doesn’t quite live up to daddy’s legacy.

Despite that, Dragon’s Age was eminently enjoyable. I found myself caring about my teammates, and the game’s finale was satisfying as a result. Although the storyline was ‘flat’ (summarised as, ‘persuade a lot of people to help you, then go beat down a dragon. You win.’), and although it had a few minor twists and plot points (such as Morrigan saving you from having to sacrifice yourself, if you so choose…), I am left missing some of Dragon Age’s mechanics rather more than the narrative it told.

As a scene-setter for the upcoming sequel, I’m glad I played it. I’m guessing dragon Age 2 is going to follow a lot more in Mass Effect 2’s footsteps, building a more human tale, with more emotion. For that reason alone, Dragon Age is worth a playthrough.

Whether DA:O will be remembered as a classic homage to Infinity-Engine dungeoneering, or simply the scene setter for ‘Dragon Effect’ remains to be seen. I enjoyed it for what it is, and for that it deserves a thumbs up.

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