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on September 8, 2011
Game Summary

Dragon Age Origins (DAO), is a single-player game of incredible depth. I wouldn't consider the game old, but it did come out about two years ago and has already spawned a sequel (more on that later). Though DAO was released on several platforms, it was primarily designed for the PC, which is what I played it on.

Without a exposing too much of the plot, you play a central protagonist who becomes a member of a unique fighting force known as the Grey Wardens. Your mission is straight-forward enough: to defend the land of Ferelden from an invasion of demonic darkspawn. That two-sentence synopsis is a gross oversimplification, but trust me, the less you know going into this game, the better. If you must know more spoilers, you know how to find them.

Presentation - 4 out of 5 stars

While the gist of the story may not seem like anything revolutionary, it is in its execution which makes DAO special. As soon as you jump in, you're going to realize that some serious world-building has taken place. These aren't just massive environments for the sake of being massive, these are areas chalk-full of goodies to explore, people to converse with, and baddies to slay.

The game's sound is one of its greatest strengths. Every person/creature you come across is excellently voiced and the musical score is nothing short of breathtaking. The graphics are the only deduction I give here. Not because they aren't good; they're just not great compared to everything else. At times there is some awkward NPC movement and minor choppiness can occur during spells or huge battles. They're good enough to appreciate from time to time though. With the right hardware, textures are sharp. You'll find yourself pausing from time to time in the midst of a battle just so you can rotate the camera and admire the snapshot.

Gameplay - 5 out of 5 stars

Many will agree that gameplay is the most important criteria, but in some ways it is the most subjective. Like some other roleplaying games, in DAO there are three main aspects to gameplay: 1) character building, 2)dialogue, and 3) combat.

Character building begins with your origin. Who are you? An elf, human, or dwarf? A warrior, mage, or rogue? That is only the beginning. You can decide how you look, what your background is, and in what skills you will specialize as the game progresses. This is achieved with a very easy-to-understand interface where players can put as much (or little) time into their protagonist as they wish. Default options are available for folks who prefer to skip that kind of thing.

Dialogue is a pivotal part of the game. If you're annoyed by cut-scenes and talking, this game is probably not for you. Again, you can press the Esc key if you wish to skip scenes, but this isn't supposed to be Diablo. Aside from the interesting stories each character brings, there are a variety of choices you can make. These choices aren't classified as good or bad, but characters will have varying reactions depending on what you choose and ultimately shape the game's story. This is a very rich part of the game. There can be humor, anger, lying, embarrassment, and even romance. It all depends on what you do and say. Relatively small choices may come back to help or hurt you down the road. This creates a very enjoyable experience where you'll actually come to care for characters perhaps as much as you would in a different medium - such as in books or TV.

The combat is fairly straightforward, but it is a unique system and not everyone is accustomed to it. It's a hybrid between real-time and turn-based strategy where you control a group of up to four adventurers. At any time in the thick of the combat, you can pause the game and issue commands to party members to engage in particular skills or abilities. While you can attempt to run through and do this without the pause function, you'll probably die a lot (at least on the PC version). Even at higher levels you're not supposed to just waltz in and mow down your foes. In many cases your foes will be just as (or more) powerful than you, so you'll need to use tactics and strategy throughout. If you've played any of the Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale offerings, you'll feel right at home. The combat here is more fluid and friendly than those earlier games and if you want to customize how party members automatically engage, there's a very intuitive system where you can do that. Personally I prefer to manually pause and direct each party member on my own.

Replay Value - 5 out of 5 stars

In case you missed it, the recurring theme here is choice. You choose your origin, your specialties, how you talk to other characters, and what strategies to employ when engaging the enemy. All of those factors will affect what sorts of quests/tasks are available to you. Which means some paths will be closed off based on decisions you make. Granted there are some standard objectives which will remain the same no matter how you're playing, but the manner in which you accomplish those can vary during each playthrough.

Upon completing this game I immediately felt the desire to jump back in and try it again. With the Ultimate Edition, there's even more to do outside the core game. After the original game, Bioware subsequently sold a lot of downloadable content, which includes new areas, items, and characters. The Ultimate Edition includes all of this - the original game, an expansion pack, and all nine additional content packs. Frankly put, there is a whole lot of value in this offering. If you find that you enjoy it, there's enough here to keep you interested for quite a while.

Rating - M for Mature

This is supposed to be an adult title. The genre encompasses what is known as "gritty fantasy" - where the storylines are often dark and somewhat Shakespearian. The blood will fly during fights, and at times speckle your party members. There's a setting which allows you to turn that off if you wish. Blood itself plays an important role in the game, so I tend to think some of this is meant to be symbolic. Sex can also happen, but it is more of the PG-13 variety where all you're going to see is some cleavage and underwear.

Bugs & Crashes

I downloaded this on Amazon. I know there's some horror stories on here, but the process seemed straightforward enough for me. The game ran well 98% of the time. There were a few instances where I would log on and it wouldn't recognize the additional content packs. These should only have to be downloaded one initial time. If they don't appear when you come back to play again, restarting the game should bring them up. There were a few times when the game would crash as well (usually during multiple spell-casting). Hopefully EA Games will address these issues, but I didn't feel that these were frequent enough to be that distracting. A simple restart of the game is all I had to ever do.

Final Thoughts

As a side note, Dragon Age 2 did come out earlier this year. However, I've been disappointed to discover that it was made for a different audience of gamers. Choice and variety took a backseat in order to favor a more action-centered, simplified game. That type of gameplay is appealing to some, but there are many fans who still cling to DAO. Perhaps in time a more faithful sequel will be made.

For better or worse, the face of gaming is changing. The focus is undoubtedly becoming more online-centered and fast-paced. Since the World of Warcraft phenomena, MMO games have quickly become the norm. Combining this with the surge of free-to-play online games, it is easy to see the growth of social gaming shows no signs of slowing. Various developers have already predicted the impending death of the single-player experience. DAO is pure example of why that should never be.

DAO is hands down one of the more enjoyable gaming experiences out there. You can feel the love that was put into this product, evidenced by all the little details which are impossible to catch with just one playthough. In closing, if you're interested in spending some time in a well-crafted world with interesting characters, buckle up your sword and come to Ferelden.
35 people found this helpful
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on February 28, 2014
The game itself is amazing, classic bioware. I won't say more on it.

The DRM issues classic EA. And they are plentiful if you buy the PC digital download. I have finally got everything to work after a lot of research/struggle.

First off, 12.4 GB is NOT how big the game is 27 GB for those who need to calculate bandwidth caps. Second, do NOT download the 12.4 GB file from Amazon, it is a outdated, does not include expansion and DLC and will not install correctly and will point you to the Origin version anyways.

Instead, redeem the CD-key on Origin directly and download the 27 GB game file, let it install/update. Don't buy the expasion again even though it shows on Origin. Now you need to install 1.05 game patch manually from bioware -this patch fixes DLC issues but won't show up on Origin no natter what. [...]

Once in game, follow on screen prompts to redeem your 2nd dlc code using the SAME origin account (redeem promo code on bioware social site) While you're at the bioware social site, register the cd key again (not dlc code) at bioware using the registerg game option.

If your DLC still aren't authorized after that, go to your game directory (program files/origin games/da/installer) find the origin installer and run as admin the installers you find in there again. Somehow Origin did not install those services correctly but told you it did anyways. Make sure there is an dragon age updater service running in services.msc.

Overall, what a ridiculous hassle to get pass the DRM and get content that you paid for.

UPDATE: Looks like EA finally fixed the DLC problems on the Origin version but Ultimate. The new version sadly gets a set list of authorized DLC integrated into it instead of connecting to the DLC server, which means you will miss a bunch of DLC like the Blood Dragon Armor that you're supposed to get with ultimate.
2 people found this helpful
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on July 16, 2015
This review is for the digital download version only. Amazon's downloader worked fine, as near as I could tell. I have a copy of this game in my Amazon download library, where it can collect digital dust 'til the end of time.
Why I gave it 1 star:
I can't play the game because it won't launch. Keeps telling me there's a problem with the setup, please reinstall. So I reinstalled the game, tried again, and got the exact same result. The configuration utility has 'repair' options but they didn't help.
Pretty certain it's not the computer I'm using, all the latest hardware (as of 12/14), and Windows 10 Pro (upgrade from 7 Pro). I installed the game under 7, it didn't work; reinstalled under 10, same thing. The game configuration utility recognized my build (AMD dual graphics, etc) so the computer's not an issue. My older games (except 16-bit such as AOE1, Diablo1) work under Win10, so the OS isn't an issue.
I've been computing since the Commodore 64; frankly, I'm not impressed. The only positive here is that the lesson learned didn't cost $69.95 (or whatever the original retail was).
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on January 3, 2015
Like some other commenters I had an issue installing on Windows 7 from my Amazon digital download. I spent 2 hours trying to figure out. I got the error after installation: "There is a problem with your game setup. Please re-install your game".

It was really easy and would have only taken 10 minutes if I knew the trick. Bioware uses software called Origin through which you can register the game, look for updates and buy downloadable content. After you install the software open up Origin (NOT Dragon Age: Origins), but the Origin software. If you have an account from any other Bioware game login, if you don't start an account. Then right click game from the "my games" section of the Origin account and select "Repair Game". This fixed it and it was playable. I did install the newest patch for the game before I did this, so you may have to do that first, I'm not sure.
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on March 9, 2016
I haven't actually played the game much yet, but I wanted to post a review to talk about how I got the game to work on my Win 10 PC. NOTE: I bought the PC download from Amazon, not the disc version.

My first attempt to download the game from Amazon resulted in an error when I tried to install it; some kind of file corruption during the download, so I did it again. The first time my download speed was 1.5 Mbps and it took 24 hours; the second I had upgraded to 4 Mbps and it took 12 hours. It seemed to install fine, but when I tried to play it I got an error saying there was a problem with installation, so I did it again - a total of six times trying different combinations of installing/starting as administrator and also installing/starting in different compatibility modes. Nothing worked. So then I did a bit of research and found I could install the Origin client (you have to get an EA/Origin account anyway to play it), then redeem the registration code, then download it from Origin. All of which I did. It installed the game automatically, and now I can play the game just fine.

I realize others may not have problems with downloading like I did, but in case you do, this is the work-around. Not sure I'll try any more large game downloads from Amazon.
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on August 13, 2012
So I was pretty skeptical about new games, but hey, no gain no pain. I purchased Dragon Age Origins and fell in love with it; and now I don't really have a desire to play anything else. When I saw there is a sequel to the game, I purchased it with great enthusiasm; but was pretty surprised how different the games are. At first, I was sad that the new game is considerably shorter and less in-depth than the first, but hey, the main character have voice and emotions! There are pros and cons to it, however:

+More funny moments
+Be able to see your character speak
+New, awesome combat movement
+Different viewpoints than the first game
+Varric Tethras
+Mentions of DAO character if imported
+All love interest swings both ways

+Less interact with companions
+Approval is a pain in the hindquarter
+Less interesting romancable characters
+Less control over the outcome
+Copy and paste dungeons/houses/environments
+Not that much different between certain choices
+Alistair, Teagan, Zevran is uglified.

Overall, I like this game, but it felt so unfinished; however, it's worth playing! Try it and have fun!
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on April 19, 2013
The game is Baldurs gate using modern graphics. You love each character or hate each character and can express it to each character. You can be a great force for good, again your version of good, or an evil jerk. It is extremely open ended. I'm playing for the 3rd time and even lawful good can be different 3 or more times.
Combat is perfect, it can be nuts, but its never button mash eyes tired nuts, space bar, think act. THINK has to be the main thing playing dragon age. Neverwinter nights was that way, but this is way more so I think.
I also URGE you reading this, don't buy $15 version, buy this full 1, you'll buy it anyway after, ughhh I know, because i wasn't sure on it, and ended up paying $45 total. Still it is a great $45 use. No other RPG that well made exists out there. Period.
Absolutely a must, get winterforge mod, its armor crafting, you can have the armor thats useful, actually looking the way you like it to. Get universal dye kit mod, same reasons.
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on January 5, 2013
It downloaded just fine but the installation failed without any explanation. When I tried again it did the same thing. Amazon is not at fault for this. Like I said the download was perfectly fine. I tried to get in touch with EA (which their customer service department is horrible) and had no help there either. I didn't try for a refund from Amazon (as stated in the policy for digital downloads) and EA was non responsive. Apparently, this isn't a isolated incident. I did a little (a lot) of research and found that this problem is on EA's side and they did not do anything to fix it, but still sell the game, broken the way it is. I wish I would've done my research first and I would have never downloaded the game. I would've bought the disk set for it instead.

Good news, though. I owned a copy of Dragon Age Origins so I was able to get the rights to the DLC on Bioware's website (value of the DLC alone was worth the cost). So I got to play all the DLC, but still I don't have the ability to play Awakenings. I gave the game three stars due to the fact that it is an awesome game, but DON'T DOWNLOAD IT. I suggest you buy DA:O Ultimate and get the disk for it.
7 people found this helpful
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on May 3, 2011
My son purchased Dragon Age II on XBox for me and he and I have been enjoying that game very much so I decided it might be worth going "back in time" to Dragon Age Origins and trying it out. It was.

I used the Amazon Digital Download and it worked perfectly (though it did take 10 hours). I was a little wary from some of the other reviews but I didn't have any issues with the Amazon download function and I was able to activate all of the DLCs.

The game is almost as much fun as the XBox II version. I know this is heresy for many, but having started with the big screen XBox II version I guess I still enjoy it more. Dragon Age II has better graphics, great Voice acting and a more personnel and engaging battle engine. The original Dragon Age allows for a little more "remote control" and distance where you can manage a group rather than always feeling that 1st person sense that you do in Dragon Age II. Just my opinion, of course, and again I am really enjoying both!
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on February 11, 2016
This was very cheap and easy. The only thing is that it is better is if you sign up for Origin use the code for the game through Origin and download the game from there if you do that you donot need to add the DLC code and the game will run flawlessly. I paid 7.99 which is like the cost of 1 add on. This is an older game, but still fun. I think this version is the best of the series.
EA is not one of my favorite game maker's but if you do not have this game it is worth the cost.
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