The lights are on
I finally finished DA Origins for the 360, and as I wait for Awakenings to download, I might as well write something about it.
While I enjoyed this game a lot, I don't feel that it has quite lived up to all the hype surrounding it. Like many people, I was not able to head up to PAX East this year. I did, however, go on Youtube and check out Wil Wheaton's keynote. He dedicates a long segment of his speech to DA Origins, and his emotional tie to the charactors and storyline. So, at this glowing recommendation of the game, I went out and bought it.
The main plot holds it's own. It is the classic tale of the world coming to an end, and the player needs to unite all the factions of people (who are all involved in their own civil wars and stuff) to fight the evil threatening to doom them all. Good enough for me. You can ignore it's predictability due to the expansive and developed nature of the plot. Each individual story arc you delve into in order to recruit your allies is rich and wonderfully done. The decisions you make as the player, of who to support, or turn against are truly interesting. I found myself making multiple save slots just to see how decisions would have turned out, had I gone the other way (and this is also one of the reasons it took me FOREVER to finish). For this piece of the game I give high marks.
I was very disappointed in the player interactions with his party. The devstried very hard to make your interactions with you party a pivotal portion of the game, and I feel like this was the most under-tested part of the game. The only interaction that even matters, is the person you choose to be your "love interest". And I found that, even that part, i was just doing to get the achievement points. Getting to maximum "love" is as simple as going to camp, agree with everything they say, spam giving the cheapo gifts that you pick up all day long, do a quick quest for them, and bang-o, you're in their tent. You don't even need to actually worry about your actions while working on the regular game. (SPOILER ALERT) I maxed out Morrigan love while playing the most "do-gooder" hero you can imagine up.You don't even have to kill her mother to complete the quest to her satisfaction. The only time I ever went against my morals in the whole game, was in the landsmeet to keep Alistair around. And I wasn't even the one who had to do anything. (END SPOILER) After how this part of the game was talked up, I found myself a little disappointed.
As far as game mechanics, I love the customization. Lots of skills and weapon/armor choices. Class specialization choices are well done. The playability is a little broken. I think if they had added a customizable auto-pause option like KoTOR, battles could have been a little more strategy, and a lot less of a button-mashing festival. The spell and ability tool tips did not explain anything well enough, and I found myself saving before every level-up so I could go back and change the things that weren't working like I thought they would.
The game is voice acted superbly. I will always be a fan of the amazing Claudia Black. I only wish they had added more voice to the player character, who ends up coming off as a dumb mute everywhere you go. Then they add the generic Baldur's gate voice to your PC and truly cheapen the experience while in combat or opening a chest.
Overall, I would consider it to be an excellent game. I will definately play through it again. If any choices I make change my opinions, I will post again.
Awakenings is done downloading now so, I am off to rock out the rest of this game.
PS. If anyone actually reads this before they buy the game... Buy it new, there is some DLC that comes free if you buy it new. If you try to save 5 bucks by buying used at Gamestop like me, then you may end up blowing the $5 on the DLC anyways. I was a little miffed.
I enjoyed this game as well, and found the complicated story structure very exciting (and time consuming). However, I also agree with you that the character connections needed to be more tested.