Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dragon Age: Origins first impression

I picked this up because i;ve heard enough good things about it that i was intrigued. So i install the stupid thing, let two months go by without touching it thinking it'll be just another bit of fluff pushed out onto the market with no rhyme or reason and finally remember i paid money for it so i might as well try it. I roll up a mage and go through the introductory quest chain.

It's ... good.
Gods and devils, this game actually is good!
I don't mean in the Neverwinter Nights sense "at least it's better than television" good, or in the VtM:Bloodlines sense "it stutters and glitches but i can see the sheer brilliance through the unfinished product" good, or even in the Oblivion "it's a bit of a grind but i love the concept" good, but good, as in a balanced, polished, painless to play yet still mildly interesting, professionally made product.
It's not that it's brilliant in any particular way; it has no real strong points. I've played through better writing, better atmosphere, better visuals, better music, better voice acting, better combat. It also has no real weak points so far. It's not groundbreaking, but they seem to have skimped on nothing. Everything was fine-tuned, even the seamless way you can roll the camera from locked to free mode. I didn't even have to adjust the sound settings. It's just a solid game.

I guess it's not so much the game itself that's amazing, but the fact that it exists. Most computer games, especially RPGs, tend to be neither here nor there. If they're popular they're completely dumbed down, simplistic attempts by investors to cash in on what they think is a market trend, something to sell the kids. If they're good, they're also underfunded, buggy, unbalanced chores that you play for their redeeming qualities. This game so far excels at nothing, but every aspect, sounds, graphics, combat, story, has just enough depth to allow for a bit of nuance. Seeing proof of actual professionalism from the conceptual, artistic and business angles of the thing is surprising. Even though i usually commend creativity over professionalism, i have to say i'm pleasantly surprised.

Well, i'll have to play through the whole thing now, i guess. The biggest remaining question is whether the roleplaying side of things holds up.

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