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Dragon Age: Origins
PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: PC

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

Odds are most of the world hasn’t heard of Dragon Age: Origins. Sure, there are a few commercials and trade ads, but in a world in which the video game industry is a mega-power in the entertainment business – it’s easy to miss Dragon Age:  Origins. There’s no multi-million dollar ad campaign, no banner ads hanging in Time Square, the game relies purely on its own merits.

Good thing it’s one of the best games of this year, if not generation.

Dragon Age: Origins is, to put it simply enough – an achievement in gaming. The rich, deep storyline, gameplay mechanics and intuitive character development system blend seamlessly together to create a package that’s hard not to fall in love with. It’s familiar, yet new. It’s deep, yet accessible. To put it frankly, Dragon Age: Origins is a game you’re going to want to play – over and over again

Acting as a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (which is widely considered one of the best fantasy RPGs of all time), Dragon Age: Origins casts players as the newest recruit in a war against the powerful Darkspawn race, who threaten to invade. How this conflict plays out, right down to the tiniest details of interactions differ based on your character creation choices. It’s amazing just how much the game’s world changes based on your character. For instance, choose to make your character an Elf and you’ll soon learn that the rest of the world doesn’t look too highly on your diminutive race so you’ll spend much of the game proving yourself to would be allies. There’s six different character class choices in Origins and to truly appreciate the world Bioware has created, you’ll want to play as each of them. What is truly amazing is just how well the story threads together.  Playing as one character, you’ll only hear about certain characters or events but playing as another you’ll get to experience them firsthand.  There’s an incredible amount of replay value in Origins.

"The game throws some interesting and tough moral choices your way..."


Undoubtedly the biggest change in Origins is the fact that the title has ditched the world of Dungeons and Dragons and takes place in its own universe entirely. While you won’t miss it much (the game is populated with elves, mages and other sci-fi staples), the move not only gives Bioware more creative freedom, it also solidifies the series as its own entity, and not just a spinoff title.  The story in Origins takes a few dark turns that probably wouldn’t have made it if the game was still tied to the D&D world, and the game is much better for it.

Like many RPGs these days, Origins features a pretty robust player progression system that you’ll need to utilize to be successful throughout the world. You’ll progress your character or party members by taking part in battles or navigating the game’s dialogue screens. What’s truly remarkable about Origins is that unlike similar titles, you won’t be able to choose an option just because it seems like something the good guy or bad guy would do. The game throws some interesting and tough moral choices your way, and in most cases there’s really not one right answer. You’ll just have to go with your gut and be ready for the repercussions.

Most games of this generation feel like they’re racing towards the big payoff, thus negating any types of connection you could make with the game’s world or characters. Dragon Age: Origins takes it’s time to flesh out its characters, story and relationships, asking you to take your time and nurture your team.  Take getting two characters to fall in love for instance – you won’t be able to just impress them and expect them to fall madly for you, no instead Origins asks you to work for your characters love life by making all the right moves and performing quests in manners that please the object of your affection.

"The world is one of excellent imagery and animations..."


As you’d expect, this all requires a significant emotional investment, and that’s where Origins excels the most. I haven’t cared this much about a game and its characters in a long time. The world is one of excellent imagery and animations, and the characters are all brought to life with incredibly rich and believable voice work that draws you in and doesn’t let go until the near 50 hour (okay, so I didn’t do all the side quests) journey is complete. There’s a bit of social metaphor going on if you choose to dig deep enough, like the discussion on whether werewolves are beastly killing machines by nature or if there’s another reason, but you won’t be bombarded by some message you don’t care about, that the developers want you to take away from the title.

If you’ve ever played a Bioware title, you’ll feel right at home in Origins. You’ll click on an enemy and rather than attacking right away, you’ll queue up your attack.  Yes, there’s a lot of micromanaging to be done here, but it never feels like a chore. Perhaps this is because the game gets tough, and to have any hope of success you’ll relish the opportunities to tweak your attacks and characters. The game’s boss fights in particular are tough and require you to pay attention to your characters stats and inventory less you feel like trying multiple times.

With Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware has once again solidified itself as the king of the western RPG. There’s really no way of recommending this title enough, with it’s amazing voice work, awesome mechanics and deep story, you’re going to want to pick up this gem of a title. 



CHEATS USED: Cheat Codes, Trainer

Okay, let’s get one thing straight here – I’m not rating Dragon Age: Origin’s cheats lower because they’re not helpful; on the contrary I’m doing so because they’re almost too helpful.

Using the trainer at Cheat Happens, you can pretty much max out everything from your mana to your health, money and stats and while that all sounds good, progressing your character via the game’s progression is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in quite some time, and using the cheats, it just seemed less enjoyable. Why would I care what choices I made and how they affect the world around me when I can just fix everything with the touch of a mouse? I want to care about what happens, and Dragon Age did that like not many games have – why give that up?



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