Dragon Age: Origins

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Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age Origins cover.png
Developer(s) BioWare
Edge of Reality
(PS3 & X360)[1]
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Director(s) Dan Tudge
Producer(s) Dan Tudge
Mark Darrah
Designer(s) Brent Knowles
Mike Laidlaw
James Ohlen
Programmer(s) Ross Gardner
Artist(s) Dean Andersen
Writer(s) David Gaider (lead)
Composer(s) Inon Zur[2]
Series Dragon Age
Engine Eclipse Engine
Platform(s) Xbox 360,[3] Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, OS X[4]
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows & Xbox 360
  • NA November 3, 2009
  • AUS November 5, 2009[5]
PlayStation 3
  • NA November 3, 2009
  • EU November 6, 2009[6]
  • AUS November 19, 2009[5]
  • JP January 27, 2011
OS X
  • NA December 21, 2009
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player[8]

Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare's Edmonton studio and published by Electronic Arts. It is the first game in the Dragon Age franchise. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 3, 2009, and for Mac OS X on December 21, 2009.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Ferelden during a period of civil strife, the player assumes the role of a warrior, mage or rogue coming from an elven, human, or dwarven background who must unite the kingdom to fight an impending invasion by demonic forces. BioWare describes Dragon Age: Origins as a "dark heroic fantasy set in a unique world," and a spiritual successor to their Baldur's Gate series of games, which took place in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise.[9]

Upon its release, Dragon Age: Origins was met with positive reviews and considered a critical success. Review aggregator site Metacritic ranks the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions of the game with scores of 91, 87, and 86, respectively.[10][11][12] The game also received multiple awards from numerous outlets, ranging from IGN's "PC Game of The Year (2009)"[13] to the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences "Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year 2009".[14] An expansion to the game, titled Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, was released in March 2010, and the official sequel, Dragon Age II, was released in March 2011.[15][16]

Gameplay[edit]

Example of a dwarf user-created character in combat with an Ogre.

The camera is a third-person perspective, over-the-shoulder view which can be rotated around the active character. The player's party consists of their player character and up to three NPC companions. Orders can be given to any and all characters at any time, and the player can switch which of the four characters they are actively controlling, allowing easier access to specific skills both in and out of combat.

The character creation process involves choosing the character's gender, race (human, elf or dwarf) and character class (warrior, rogue, mage).[17] The latter two criteria are combined to give players access to one of six "Origin Stories," which serve as an introduction to both gameplay and the world of Thedas as a whole. Dwarven characters can begin as noble members of the royal family, or as a "lowborn" living in poverty. Because Elves were once enslaved by humans, Elf commoners start their journey in an "alienage," an Elven ghetto in the capital city of Ferelden; a "Dalish" Elf, on the other hand, lives free in the forest amongst their clan. In the human noble origin, the player begins as a Cousland, one of the human noble families in Ferelden. Finally, Elven and Human mages start their story off in the Ferelden's Circle of Magi (dwarves cannot use magic). Events of an individual Origin are reflected in the game story and characters. Characters that the player meets during the Origin story may reappear throughout the game, some as adversaries.[18]

In addition to equipping new gear, players can customize their party's statistics, skills and abilities. In particular, each class has access to "Specializations" that further refine and focus their talents, such as the berserker or templar for the warrior class,[19] shapeshifter or spirit healer for the mage class,[20] and assassin or ranger for the rogue. A Specialization unlocks a new set of abilities and spells, but each character may only choose one. Most companions join the party with their specialization already chosen, often reflecting their history and abilities.

Unlike previous BioWare games, in which the player character's choices affect their position on a scale of moral alignment, Dragon Age features only party favor. A companion may grow more or less appreciative of the Grey Warden, depending on the player's dialogue choices and whether they are congruent with that companion's personal philosophy. The player can also give gifts to party members to affect this score.[21] However, moral choices of the player will still affect the story throughout the game. The player will accomplish different goals depending on if they choose to be good or evil, but the decisions that the player makes in the process will change the game world accordingly – deciding who will become king, for example, and affecting nations, races and their places in the world. These decisions will also influence the companion NPCs, possibly causing an NPC to leave the party[22] or even attack the player if they disagree strongly with his or her actions.[23]

The game has been described as the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate by BioWare co-CEO Ray Muzyka,[24] as players are able to issue orders to NPCs in real time, but pause the game to queue up actions such as spells and special attacks, a game mechanic from the Baldur's Gate series.[25]

The game features a degree of interactivity between spells, such as a fire spell igniting a grease slick before being put out by a blizzard. The game contains many combinations which can be discovered by the player either by accident, or by finding clues as to which combinations are valid.[26]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

BioWare has described Dragon Age: Origins as being a "dark heroic fantasy" story told on an epic scale with mature themes.[27]

The game is set in Ferelden, one of several countries that makes up the mythical continent of Thedas. The game opens with an animation which details the origins of demonic creatures called the Darkspawn, that dwell within the Deep Roads, an underground highway system created by the dwarves long ago, deep beneath the surface of Thedas. Every few hundred years, the Darkspawn swarm the surface world in a movement known as a Blight. Beginning with the first Blight, Thedas relied on the legendary order of warriors known as the Grey Wardens to drive the Darkspawn back. Dragon Age: Origins begins on the eve of Thedas's fifth Blight.

Thedas is a land with a long history, and a great deal of lore is associated with it. Much of this lore is reflected in the player character's Origin Story, whatever it may be: for instance, elves are often viewed as second class citizens by humans, while the human noble is treated with respect.[27] Mages, on the other hand, begin their Origin Stories cloistered by the Chantry: mages have access to the Fade, the non-conscious realm that is home to spirits, and may be possessed by demons if they lapse in vigilance. Apostate mages, who live outside the Chantry's control, are considered extremely dangerous, and the Chantry's militant wing, the Templars, are tasked with seeking them out and subduing them by any means necessary.

Plot[edit]

In every origin story, the player is introduced to Duncan, the commander of Ferelden's Grey Wardens who is trying to find recruits to join the order. By the end of their origin story, the player's character is selected as a potential Grey Warden, and leaves with Duncan.

The player and Duncan journey to a fortress called Ostagar in southern Ferelden, to join Cailan, the King of Ferelden, and Loghain, a legendary general and Cailan's father-in-law. The three leaders plan to make a stand against the encroaching Darkspawn before the Blight can overwhelm Ferelden. Duncan can sense the influence of an Archdemon, a god-like being hosted in the body of a powerful Dragon that commands the Darkspawn, which means that this would be the first true Blight in over 400 years. It is of utmost importance that this Blight is ended before it can gain momentum, as previous Blights have left Thedas in all but ruins.

Duncan initiates the player into the Grey Wardens through a dangerous ritual called the Joining. The Joining involves imbibing Darkspawn blood, which can either kill a person or imbue him or her with the powerful darkspawn essence known as the Taint (granting them the ability to sense darkspawn and a rudimentary glimpse into their hive mind). After surviving the Joining, the player attends a war council, where it is decided that Cailan's army and the Grey Wardens will lure the darkspawn into attacking the fortress. The player, along with another Grey Warden, Alistair, is given the task of lighting a beacon at the top of the fortress which will signal Loghain's men to charge the horde's flank, breaking the Darkspawn and ending the Blight. After fighting through Darkspawn occupying the beacon tower, the player lights the flame. But upon seeing the signal, Loghain abandons the battlefield with his army. Without Loghain's reinforcements, King Cailan and Duncan are overwhelmed and slain by the Darkspawn horde, who also massacre Cailan's army and seize control of Ostagar and southern Ferelden.

The player's Warden and Alistair are nearly killed at Ostagar as well, but are saved by Flemeth, a powerful witch who lives in a secluded hermitage with her daughter and apprentice, Morrigan. The player, along with Alistair and Morrigan, decide that in order to stop the Blight from destroying Ferelden, and possibly all of Thedas, they will need to gather a new army and slay the Archdemon. Using ancient Grey Warden treaties, the player's Warden must travel across Ferelden to enlist the aid of the Dalish Elves, the Dwarves of Orzammar, the Circle of Magi, and the soldiers of Redcliffe, loyal to Arl Eamon. Unfortunately, all of these factions are facing problems of their own, which the player must help resolve to secure their allegiances.

Concurrently, Loghain returns to Ferelden's capital city, Denerim, to inform Queen Anora, his daughter, of King Cailan's death. Loghain uses the Grey Wardens as a scapegoat, blaming them for abandoning the battle and betraying Ferelden, outlawing the order and calling for the deaths of any remaining Wardens. While Queen Anora inherits her husband's authority, Loghain quickly declares himself her regent and effectively seizes control of the kingdom. Loghain swiftly becomes a brutal and tyrannical ruler willing to do anything to retain power, igniting a civil war between himself and Ferelden's nobility, who refuse to acknowledge his authority. Both sides battle to an inconclusive stalemate, benefiting none but the darkspawn, who take advantage of the chaos to advance further into Ferelden.

After the player successfully obtains the assistance of all the primary factions, a meeting known as the Landsmeet is called among the nobles of Ferelden. There, the player confronts Loghain and rallies support from the rest of the kingdom to face the Darkspawn. The player is also presented with the option of executing Loghain for his crimes or sparing his life. Sparing Loghain causes Alistair to leave the player's party in anger and disgust (if Alistair has already agreed to marry Anora and become King, he will remain in Ferelden and be present at the end of the game, but he will not rejoin the player's party for the final battle). If Loghain is spared, he is forced to undergo the Joining and takes Alistair's place as a Grey Warden, showing sincere regret for his actions as regent.

At this point, the player learns that only a Grey Warden can slay the Archdemon because of the Taint present in a Grey Warden's body. Killing the archdemon releases the demonic essence within it, which is automatically drawn to the Taint in the Grey Warden who slew it, and effectively kills him or her as well; if anyone other than a Warden slays it, the Archdemon's essence survives and finds a new host in the nearest Darkspawn, making the monster effectively immortal.

On the night before the final battle, Morrigan offers the player's Warden a way to slay the Archdemon without sacrificing anyone: Morrigan believes that if the player succeeds in conceiving a child with her, the child would also carry the Taint. Once the Archdemon dies, its demonic essence would be drawn away from any Grey Warden to safely merge with the unborn child instead. The resulting child would be born a demigod, which she plans to raise on her own. Morrigan admits that this was her true motive for joining the player's campaign all along. The player can accept Morrigan's offer, convince Alistair or Loghain to take part instead, or refuse the witch's proposal, causing her to leave the party. If the Warden is female, she can only refuse Morrigan or convince Loghain or Alistair to do it.

The next day, the player and the newly assembled army of Ferelden fight their way through the city of Denerim, which is now overrun by the darkspawn. After fighting their way through the darkspawn horde, and an epic final battle against the archdemon atop Denerim's highest tower, the player is given the chance to deliver the killing blow or to let Alistair/Loghain do it. Either way, the archdemon is killed and, bereft of its leadership, the darkspawn army retreats from Denerim, marking the end of the Fifth Blight. Unless the ritual with Morrigan was performed, whoever slew the Archdemon also perishes.

The story ends with a ceremony attended by the people of Ferelden during which the player and his or her companions are honored for saving the kingdom. The game then presents an epilogue in text and pictures which details the ramifications of the player's in-game choices on the future of Ferelden and the lives of his or her companions.

Characters[edit]

The chief protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins is the player-controlled character, whose biography and combat specialization are customized at the start of the game. While the player can choose his or her avatar's first name, the character is usually referred to as "The Warden" by other characters and the game's narration. A player's chief protagonist may be either human, elf, or dwarf.

Players also have the opportunity to recruit companion characters who appear throughout the game and volunteer their services. Companions for the game include Alistair, a reluctantly heroic Grey Warden with a sarcastic wit; Morrigan, the sultry but cynical dark mage who has little regard for authority and social mores; Leliana, an ex-member of Ferelden's religious Chantry whose optimistic and virtuous demeanor belies an aptitude for espionage and combat; Sten, a proud but stoic warrior of the militaristic Qunari people who often questions human ways; Oghren, a brutal dwarven warrior whose love of alcohol is only matched by his penchant for violence and loyalty to his friends; Wynne, an Elder Mage of the Circle, and a maternal figure to the party also a powerful healer; Zevran, a rakish elven assassin who is fond of treasures, sex and innuendo; and a loyal Mabari War Hound, which the player can name and use for scouting and combat. In the DLC, Shale, a sarcastic Golem with a mild ornithophobia is also available, where it is revealed that Shale was a female Dwarf in her prior life.

Adding these companions to the Warden's party enables the player to control them during combat and exploration. Through conversation, the player unlocks unique quests and dialog which furthers Dragon Age's lore. A relationship system in the game tracks approval and disapproval between each companion and the player's Warden. The player can gain or lose approval with each companion based on conversation choices and quest-related decisions made throughout the game. The player may also influence a companion's approval points with gifts. Most gifts give positive approval, although a DLC called “Feastday Pranks″ gives you gifts for each character that greatly reduce approval. Each gift has a character it is meant for; although almost every gift gives positive approval to any character, certain gifts work best for certain characters. Some gifts, if given to the right character, start a cutscene and can sometimes even unlock a quest. These extremely special gifts can be given only to the designated character. A high approval rating improves a companion's morale, resulting in bonuses to combat abilities. A significant approval rating also makes it possible for the Warden to pursue a romantic relationship with certain companions. Conversely, lowering a companion's approval to a significant degree can result in him or her leaving the party or turning on the player.

Other than companion characters, NPCs significant to Origin's plot include Duncan, the Grey Warden who recruits the player; King Cailan, Ferelden's naive, but courageous leader and son of the legendary King Maric; Queen Anora, Cailan's wife, whose youth and beauty are matched by a commanding personality and political-savvy, somewhat offset by her ambition and ruthlessness; Eamon Guerrin, the noble Arl of Redcliffe who lends political support to the player's Warden; Riordan, a Grey Warden from the neighboring kingdom of Orlais (though born in Ferelden); and Flemeth, Morrigan's mother, who appears to be a harmless old woman in public, but in truth is an infamous dark witch of Ferelden legend. The game's main antagonists, other than the faceless Darkspawn horde and their monstrous leader, the archdemon Urthemiel, are Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, once a respected war hero and father of Queen Anora, now gone mad with ambition and paranoia, and Rendon Howe, the greedy Arl of Amaranthine who allies with Loghain to further his own ambitions.

Voice cast[edit]

The game contains a large amount of voice acting recorded in the US and the UK.[28] Actors include Tim Russ, Steve Valentine, Kate Mulgrew, Simon Templeman, Mark Rolston, Tim Curry, Adam Howden and Claudia Black.[29] A considerable amount of ambient dialogue takes place between the non-player characters in the adventuring party, adding to their background story and lending more depth and credibility to the characters.[30] Conversations involving the main character are complex and varied, and conversation options can have a significant effect on gameplay. Translations and voice-overs were made for several languages other than English. An automatic lip-syncing algorithm was used to provide passable facial animations for all dialogue.[31]

Development[edit]

Anthropomorphic "Grand Oak" or "Elder Tree" speaking with player character.

Bioware first unveiled Dragon Age: Origins at the Electronic Entertainment Expo of 2004 (E3 2004), but as only "Dragon Age".[32] Described as an epic "dark heroic fantasy,"[27] Dragon Age: Origins combines sword and sorcery[33] with anthropomorphism,[34] featuring even a playable anthropomorphic golem named Shale.

On 10 July 2008 Dragon Age became Dragon Age: Origins, with the former title referencing the name of the series and the latter referencing the name of the first video game in the series.[35] The developers had cited "realistic" fantasy fiction artists, such as George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Frank Frazetta's fantasy paintings, as inspiration for the game.[36]

The PlayStation 3 version of the game was originally delayed. However, BioWare later retracted that statement and announced that, in North America, it would be released on the same day as the other versions.[37]

The Dragon Age Character Creator was released on October 13, 2009, allowing players to create a character in advance and to import it into the full game upon release.[38] BioWare also released a "developer-grade" toolset to allow extensive modification and customization of the game exclusive to the PC version.[39]

The retail PC version of Dragon Age: Origins does not use the SecuROM copy protection software used by other EA games, opting instead for a standard disc check.[40]

The soundtrack for the video game contains the song "This Is War" by Thirty Seconds to Mars,[41] while the original score itself was composed by Inon Zur. In the development of the lighting of the game BioWare used Turtle, a rendering and baking plugin for Autodesk Maya used for lighting and content creation, made by Illuminate Labs.

BioWare has stated that the game runs "very well" on Windows 7,[42] and a Mac OS X version of the game was released on December 21, 2009, as a download, using TransGaming's Cider Portability Engine.[4]

After the release of the main game and the add-ons BioWare released several patches to address gameplay and technical compatibility issues, the last version 1.05 is from November 2011.[43] As there are several remaining issues after the last official patch, the game community tries to address these themselves with unofficial patches.[44][45]

Marketing and release[edit]

"Sacred Ashes" trailer[edit]

In October 2009, a four-minute trailer was released by Electronic Arts to promote Dragon Age: Origins. The trailer, entitled "Sacred Ashes" was produced by Blur Studio and created using custom CGI animation rather than any actual in-game footage or assets.[46][47] An instrumental version of the song "This Is War" by the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars is used for the soundtrack, while Claudia Black and Corinne Kempa provide brief dialog for their characters.

The trailer shows a human male Grey Warden leading Morrigan, Sten, and Leliana up a narrow mountainside amidst fierce wind and snow. The Warden remarks that the tomb they are searching for is ahead, but they are suddenly ambushed by the Darkspawn army. After defeating the Darkspawn, a massive dragon appears and the Warden's team works together to slay it.

Retail editions[edit]

Three retail editions of Dragon Age: Origins were made available for purchase.

The "Regular" edition of the game was made available for purchase across all platforms through retailers such as Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and Best Buy. Windows users could also obtain the Regular version through download services such as Steam and Direct2Drive. The standard version of the game includes a one-use redemption code to download the Stone Prisoner and Blood Dragon Armor DLC for free.[48]

The "Collectors' Edition" was released for Windows, Mac, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, but only in boxed retail form and not through download. This version comes in a steelbook, having different artwork from the regular edition. Like the regular edition, the Collector's Edition includes a redemption code to obtain the Stone Prisoner and Blood Dragon Armor DLC for free, but adds three exclusive in-game items, a bonus disc containing a making-of documentary, concept art, trailers, the game's original soundtrack, and a cloth map of Ferelden.[49]

The "Digital Deluxe" version of the game is available for download on Windows and Mac operating systems. The Digital Deluxe edition includes the game's original soundtrack (in an expanded version) and desktop wallpapers in downloadable form, as well as all the free DLC content of the Collectors' Edition (not in the UK version), plus a code to download the Warden's Keep DLC for free.[50]

The "Ultimate Edition" was released on October 26, 2010. It includes the base game, expansion pack, and all 9 DLC packs. It does not come with the pre-order bonus items nor the Collector's Edition exclusive items. A remix of the song "Closer to the Edge" by the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars is used for the soundtrack.[51] The PC and Xbox 360 version is on 2 discs whilst on PS3 is on a single Blu-ray disc. However, it is reported that the "Return to Ostagar" is missing from the European PS3 version. BioWare has suggested that people should contact EA support to download the DLC from PSN.[52] The PC version is also available via download.

Downloadable content[edit]

BioWare announced on October 8, 2009, that two pieces of downloadable content (DLC) would be available on the game's launch: The Stone Prisoner and Warden's Keep. By November 12, 2009, BioWare announced that sales of downloadable content had generated over one million dollars of sales revenue.[53]

The Stone Prisoner[edit]

The Stone Prisoner adds Shale to the game, a stone Golem and a party member. Shale has a back story, voice acting, and a unique quest. The Stone Prisoner also adds new locations and items. New copies of the game contained a promotional code to receive The Stone Prisoner for free, which was valid until April 30, 2010. The code works for those who have not used it prior to April 30, 2010.[54][55]

Warden's Keep[edit]

Warden's Keep adds the fortress of Soldier's Peak to Dragon Age: Origins, granting the player the opportunity to understand why the Grey Wardens were exiled from Ferelden. The player can set up a base of operations that has an area to store party members' surplus equipment. The download also adds new talents, spells, trophies/achievements, and items.[55]

Blood Dragon Armor[edit]

Blood Dragon Armor adds a set of "massive" armor that can be purchased in-game. In addition, registering the code used to obtain this DLC also lets the player download a similar set of armor to use in BioWare's Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age II.[55]

Return to Ostagar[edit]

Return to Ostagar was announced on November 19, 2009, and was originally scheduled to be released during the 2009 holiday season.[56] It was then delayed to January 5, 2010, at which time it was delayed indefinitely. It was released on the Xbox 360 on January 13, 2010, but withdrawn again due to bugs. It was re-released on January 29, 2010, though only for Xbox 360 and PC. The PS3 release date was March 11, 2010.[57] On March 14, 2010, it has also been reported by the community as running on the Mac Platform, despite contrary claims by EA.[58] (An official Mac version has since been released) It features a return to the first battlefield of Ostagar, where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out by the Darkspawn invasion. It allows the player to unravel King Cailan's and Loghain's agendas, discover the armor of the late King Cailan and the arms of the last Grey Warden Commander, Duncan, and provides another opportunity to recruit a loyal Mabari War Hound. It also includes one achievement, and other new items.[59][60]

"Feastday" content[edit]

On April 1, 2010, BioWare released a set of DLC items in honor of a fictional holiday within the Dragon Age universe called "Feastday," which mirrors April Fools' Day. The complete set contains ten unique gifts and ten unique prank items which the player can give to specific companions, and positively or negatively affect their attitude towards the player, as well as grant special in-game bonuses or penalties. The prank and gift items can be purchased separately for 160 BioWare points each, or 240 points altogether.[61]

The Darkspawn Chronicles[edit]

On May 5, 2010, the game's official site announced The Darkspawn Chronicles to be released later that month. A brief synopsis indicates that the DLC, described as a module, will allow players to replay the final battle at Denerim as the Darkspawn army. The story alters the game's plot by presupposing that the player's Grey Warden did not survive the Joining, so the Ferelden army is led by Alistair, instead.[62] This new DLC was released on May 18, 2010 for the price of 400 Microsoft or BioWare Points.

Leliana's Song[edit]

Released on July 6, 2010, this DLC is a standalone campaign that stars Leliana, and is set several years before the events of the main campaign. Players assume the role of Leliana while she was an Orlesian Bard, and experience the events that inspired her to join the Chantry. The DLC features fully voiced cinematics, and a transferable reward for both Origins and Awakening.[63]

The Golems of Amgarrak[edit]

Released on August 10, 2010, this DLC sends the player's Warden on a campaign in the Deep Roads of the Dwarven Kingdom to investigate the disappearance of a dwarven expedition that was searching for the lost secret behind constructing golems. Players can import their Warden from Origins or Awakening, and completing the DLC unlocks a special item that can be used in those campaigns. BioWare advertises that this campaign is recommended for experienced players, because of its difficulty.[64]

Witch Hunt[edit]

Released on September 7, 2010, the Witch Hunt DLC sets the player on a campaign to investigate reports that Morrigan has returned to Ferelden, nearly a year since her disappearance at the end of Origins. Players can import their character from Origins, Awakening, and Golems of Amgarrak, or they can create an entirely new character. BioWare advertises that Witch Hunt provides closure to Morrigan's storyline, rewards that transfer into Origins and Awakening, and that it is the final DLC to be released for Origins.[65]

Expansion[edit]

The expansion pack, Awakening was released on March 16, 2010. The expansion pack offers a new campaign that takes place during the aftermath of Dragon Age: Origins, and is set in the coastal region of Amaranthine. The player has the option to import their character and save data from a completed Dragon Age: Origins campaign (regardless of the ending outcome) or to create a new character. In this story, the player must investigate suspicious behavior displayed by the retreating Darkspawn army, and its connection to an entity known as The Architect. Awakening also introduces new party members, new abilities, new class specializations, a raise in level cap, and new items.[66]

Soundtrack[edit]

Dragon Age: Origins - Original Videogame Score
Soundtrack album by Inon Zur
Released December 8, 2009 (2009-12-08)
Genre Orchestral
Video game soundtrack
Length 00:58:41
Label Electronic Arts Music

The game features an orchestral soundtrack with choir, used both in-game and during cutscenes. The tracks were composed by Inon Zur and performed by the Northwest Sinfonia.[67][68] The song "I Am the One" from Dragon Age won "Best Original Song" for a video game at Hollywood Music in MediaTM Awards. It was composed by Inon Zur and Aubrey Ashburn while being performed by Aubrey Ashburn. Dragon Age also won the award for "Outstanding Music Supervision" at the Hollywood Music in MediaTM Awards. The award was given in the name of Simon Pressey, audio director of BioWare.[69][70]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 90.50%[72]
(X360) 86.85%[73]
(PS3) 86.28%[74]
Metacritic (PC) 91/100[75]
(PS3) 87/100[76]
(X360) 86/100[77]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 5/10[78]
Eurogamer 6/10[79]
8/10[80]
Game Informer 9/10[81]
8/10[82]
GameSpot 9.5/10[30]
GamesRadar 9/10[83]
IGN 8.7/10[84]
OXM (UK) 8/10[85]
PC Gamer (UK) 94%[86]
PC Gamer (US) 92%[87]
RPGFan 95%[88]
GameSnob 9.3 (PC)[89]
9.2 (PS3)[90]
9.1 (X360)[91]

Dragon Age: Origins received critical acclaim from major video game critics upon its release. While the game is considered to be virtually identical across all platforms, differences in user interface, graphical performance, and online content delivery have led the PC version to be reviewed more favorably than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions; Metacritic ranks the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions of the game with scores of 91, 87, and 86, respectively.[10][11][12]

Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot reviewed the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions separately. The PC version was given a score of 9.5 out of 10, plus an 'Editor's Choice' award. The game was described as "that kind of game, so rich and involving that you are powerless to resist its wiles and whims, so touching and triumphant that your mind and heart will be moved... Few games are this ambitious, and even fewer can mold these ambitions into such a complete and entertaining experience. You might spend 50 or more hours on your first play-though, but there are so many paths to follow, so many details to uncover, and so many ways to customize your party that you'll want to play again as soon as you finish the first time."[92]

When comparing the console versions, the PlayStation 3 "features higher-quality textures than those on the Xbox 360, better color saturation, smoother facial animations, and shorter load times," although "minor visual hiccups, like corpses that disappear and reappear, are a bit more common on the PS3. The Playstation 3 version was given a 9.0/10 while the Xbox 360 version was given an 8.5/10. "[92]

Giant Bomb writer David Snider also reviewed all three versions of Dragon Age: Origins together and gave an overall rating of five stars out of five. The review favorably described the game as "a real throwback to the good old days of PC role-playing epics... While that means you could rightfully fault the game for not being especially innovative, it's this adherence to a classic style of gameplay that will ensure that it's welcomed by the legions of nostalgic RPG players that make up this genre's core audience."[93] Snider did remark that the game might be daunting or inaccessible to casual players due to the amount of in-game micromanaging that is required, especially on consoles, which he considered to have a more cumbersome interface.[93]

IGN's Jeff Haynes gave the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins a score of 9 out of 10 and characterized it as "one of those titles that can easily swallow up dozens of hours of play and keep you coming back for more... a game with a ton of re-playability and an incredibly vivid world that is the start of an impressive franchise."[94] While the review was mostly glowing, Haynes did note grievances, namely that the combat difficulty was scaled awkwardly, the graphics sometimes appeared dated, and the plot was repetitive of BioWare's other games.[95]

1UP.com editor, Jason Wilson, gave the PC version of the game an 'A' rating, and surmised that "while the story may not be completely original, it's told in a way that enthralls and enchants the player. It's the best RPG of the year -- and maybe the best of the HD era."[96] Wilson briefly compared the PC release to the PlayStation 3 release, and said that combat on the console controller was comparably "hamstrung" and felt "stripped down".[96]

GamePro editor Will Herring awarded Dragon Age: Origins 5 out of 5 stars, writing that it was "a spectacular experience from beginning to end, and with an enormous amount of choices to make, cities to visit, dungeons to crawl, NPCs to interact with, treasure to find, quests to complete and crafts to master. I feel pretty confident in saying that Dragon Age: Origins is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable and immersive RPG experiences I've had since my Infinity Engine days."[97] Herring also noted differences between the PC and console releases, but considered them to be minor.[97]

The New York Times writer Seth Schiesel wrote a positive review of the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins, favorably comparing its scope to another popular RPG, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion; but he added that Dragon Age: Origins provided a more engaging experience.[98]

PC Gamer UK, which awarded Dragon Age: Origins a 94%, declared it the "RPG of the decade".[86]

Official Xbox Magazine rated the Xbox 360 version of Dragon Age: Origins with a score of 9.0, listing the combat interface as a plus, while criticizing the amount of story choices available to the player as being potentially overwhelming.[99]

Michael Lafferty of GameZone rated Dragon Age: Origins at 9.9/10 for the PC, stating, "The development team has done a sterling job of creating emotional content within the game’s atmosphere." The 360 version, on the other hand, received a 9.0/10.

Sales[edit]

Up until February 2010, Dragon Age: Origins had sold "triple platinum", that is more than 3.2 million copies, worldwide.[100]

Awards[edit]

  • The Academy of Interactive Arts & Science's awarded Dragon Age as the "Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year 2009".[14]
  • At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Dragon Age: Origins received the Best PC Game and Best RPG awards.
  • Dragon Age Origins was chosen as the PC Game of the Year,[101] Best Xbox 360 RPG of the Year,[102] Best Story of the Year,[103] and Best PC Role-Playing Game of the Year by IGN.[104]
  • The game received Giant Bomb's Best PC Game of 2009 award.[105]
  • Dragon Age: Origins received the Game of the Year 2009 and RPG of the Year awards from U.S. PC Gamer.[106]
  • Dragon Age: Origins received the Game of the Year 2009 award from Spawn Kill.[107]
  • UFO Gamers awarded the game with both game of the year 2009 and best RPG of 2009 in its Golden Saucers Awards.[108]
  • Dragon Age: Origins received AbleGamers Foundation Most Accessibility Mainstream Game of 2009[109] making it the most accessible game for gamers with disabilities for 2009.
  • Dragon Age: Origins received best rookie title of 2009 from the Swedish "Guldstickan" (The Golden Joystick)

In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[110]

Sequel[edit]

Main article: Dragon Age II

On July 8, 2010, BioWare officially announced that Dragon Age II was in production and due for a March 2011 release.[111] It was released on March 8, 2011.[112]

Dragon Age II is set within a ten-year period and features a new predefined protagonist, Hawke, and a new locale within the Dragon Age world, the city of Kirkwall.[113] Players are able to transfer save data from Dragon Age: Origins into the sequel; decisions that the player made during the course of Dragon Age: Origins are referenced while playing Dragon Age II.[114][115]

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External links[edit]