Fantasy game centers on choice

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Last year, Bioware released an RPG game on PS3, Xbox 360 and the PC — “Dragon Age: Origins,” which follows an epic tale of sorrow and glory. Just recently, Bioware released an ultimate version of the game, which includes all nine downloadable upgrade packs and the standalone expansion “Dragon Age: Origins — Awakening” for the price of just one game.

At the start of the game, you can choose among three different races: dwarf, human and elf. There are also three different classes, or character styles, to choose from, including warrior, rogue and mage — someone skilled in the art of magic. Later on in the game, these classes are upgraded to include subclasses. For example, a rogue can become a duelist, a ranger, an assassin or a bard. Each specialization includes new abilities, but you are limited to the number of subclasses you can have. You also get to customize where the character grew up, and each choice — even before the game starts — impacts the way different characters interact with you. After choosing your race and class, you can customize the look of your character. For those who just want to play, there are several premade characters available as well.

My first play through the game, I was a dwarf commoner who overcame great obstacles and became a hero. “Dragon Age” keeps people coming back because of the interesting story line and the way the game changes every time you play. The game centers on choice; every interaction the player makes, be it with people in the group with you or with plot characters, affects the game play. If you make a rude remark to a blacksmith, he might charge you double. Or, if you threaten the wrong person, she might attack you instead of backing down. These choices allow each player to experience the game differently and the choices you make affect your party as well.

Your party is the group of characters that join you along the quest to save the world. After joining the legendary Grey Wardens, different characters join your group. The Wardens follow a path that leads them through peril while fighting the Darkspawn, or demon hordes. Three other characters can follow with you, and while playing, you can switch from character to character to use different attacks and to heal. The characters vary greatly, and some are more useful than others. A dog, a warrior, a healing mage, a bard, an assassin and even a sarcastic stone golem are just a few of the party characters available.

The gameplay is solid, though some people are understandably bogged down by the amount of text in this game. A few times, I ran into the issue where I couldn’t find the correct path through an area because of the coloring of the game, but that didn’t happen often. The other thing to be wary of is the large amount of time spent waiting at loading screens. If you get caught in a trap or stuck in a particularly hard fight, it is possible you will spend more time reloading the game after your party dies than the fight actually takes. I ran into this issue while fighting the dragons. The fight itself was a blast, but any mistake had me waiting at the loading screen for another try.

This is a great title at a great bargain, and I would suggest this to anyone who is a fan of the medieval fantasy genre. If you have the imagination and the capacity to answer the in-game questions truthfully, you can end the game with some interesting rewards. Become a hero and save the world — a story as old as time, and one that has made “Dragon Age: Origins” a game worth buying.

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