Hot new game: Dragon Age: Origins

The announcement that a third Dragon Age game will be upon us come Fall got me feeling bad about never finishing the first game even though I was super excited about it. (I wrote quite a few posts about the game back in 2009.) That’s me, though. Get uber-hyped about something then enjoy it for 2 weeks before moving on.

This time out I decided to play on the PS3. I can say with confidence that there is no good technical reason for doing this. The PS3 version is inferior to the PC version in pretty much every way but one. The game is more expensive on the PS3 (the base game was $20 digitally, though it was on sale for under $10 a few weeks before I bought it. On Steam the “Ultimate Edition” is regularly on sale for less than $10 and it includes all the DLC and the Awakenings expansion), the graphics are much worse and the controls have been stripped down to make playing ‘tactically’ a chore.

The one thing I prefer is that I don’t have to jump through hoops to get it running. As I recall the last time I tried to play DA:O on the PC I really struggled to get DLC unlocked and in the end I think I had to download and run some kind of authentication service, which really bothered me.

But that’s not why I’m playing on the PS3. I’m playing on PS3 because where I am right now in my life, I greatly prefer console games. It’s summer and the office where my PC is gets warm in the afternoon and evenings. Plus after sitting there for 10 hours working (I work from the same office I game in) I just want to get away and be somewhere else.

So even with all the shortcomings of playing on PS3 (and back in 2009 the PS3 was the red-headed stepchild of console-gaming and frequently got shoddy ports; DA:O is one of them, done by Edge of Reality) I’m preferring the experience of playing from the couch. Relaxed (often actually laying down while playing). Under an A/C vent. 🙂

And I’m loving it! It’s been so long that I don’t remember much more than a vague ‘feeling’ of the game, at least until things happen then I’m like “Oh yeah! I remember this!” Since I’m so comfortable while playing I’ve been taking the time to read every Codex entry and talk to my party members frequently. My mind isn’t in that “Get things done” state that it tends to be when I’m sitting at a computer.

It’s a good thing too, because I’d forgotten how slowly DA:O plays out. I’m maybe 10 hours in and still just getting started, mucking about in Lothering. Already I’m conflicted about who I want in my party since they’re all so interesting.

Hopefully the combat won’t get too bad. My recollection from playing on the PC is that when things got tough you could pause the game, zoom out to survey the battlefield and then give each character specific orders. Go stand here, go do that. You can’t really do that in the PS3 version. You can pause but you have a big menu-wheel on screen when you do. You can’t zoom out. You can give each character ‘attack that mob’ orders but you can’t order them to move. If you take control of one of them and move him, the others follow along (though I may be able to disable that via Tactics/AI). So there’s no positional combat, really. We’ll see how it goes.

I didn’t spring for any of the DLC since it would’ve significantly added to the cost of the game: via the in-game store the DLC would cost me a total of $36 without Awakenings, which is an additional $40. Luckily The Stone Prisoner (which adds the golem Shae) was included. Amazon has Awakenings on disk for $22 and if I’m really hungry for more at the end of Origins maybe I’ll pick that up, but I already own DA II for PS3 and would in theory like to get through that too, before DA 3 comes out.

Actually if I’m hungry for more maybe I’ll just play it through a second time on PC for no additional cost.

I almost never finish Bioware games. (Knights of the Old Republic was the one exception and, pardon the heresy but I didn’t love it.) I’ve tried to get through Mass Effect 1 three times but always drifted away. And the old titles, like Baldur’s Gate or Planescape? Barely scratched the surface. This is my 2nd serious attempt at Dragon Age: Origins. So far it’s holding my attention, but I’m still just getting started. We’ll see if I can make it through this time.

4 thoughts on “Hot new game: Dragon Age: Origins

  1. I played through DA:O on PS3 originally. I played through 80% of the game with my newborn cradled sleeping in my arms… ah those were the days. I was always a PC RPG guy, but the console version of DA didn’t turn me off too bad.

    The PS3 version compensates for the stripped down combat by reducing the number of enemies you face so that you don’t have to worry about the positioning as much.

  2. I love Dragon Age and Origins was my favourite campaign. I replayed it just last Spring. Yes the companions are all interesting and they all have back story related quests. The only part of the game I don’t really like is the random encounters. I always forget to save before travelling so it is very annoying to die in a random encounter.

  3. My only gripe with DA:O is that it has a tendency to drag on. Between random encounters and go fetch quests it can be quite annoying but the story makes up for that. I’m not sure how saved games work on the console, if you are able to transfer a save file from DA:O to DA2, but the only real DLC that matters is Shale, Witch Hunt, and Awakenings.

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