Monday, November 09, 2009

"Dragon Age: Origins" first impressions

Traded up from RPG-lite to full blown RPG with "Dragon Age: Origins". Bioware has put in a massive storyline including different beginning stories to play through depending on which species (human, elf or dwarf) has been picked as the main character.

Did I mention the game is huge? As it is, so much detail and melodrama has gone into the prologue which, as all good RPGs should, is a tutorial of the game mechanics such as inventory-keeping, party combat, and character equipping and building.

No auto-builds here -- each party member is individually customizable to suit the player's preferred play style. A mix of ranged, magic and melee attacks and defences are needed to build a team that can survive the enemy hoards, and though it's necessary to micromanage everything, the multiplicity of decisions you have to make at every level-up can be tedious and frustrating when you realize you've chosen badly with no take-backs.

Combat is tough, especially since I have yet to master tactical control over the party. People tend to get killed off-screen while I'm busy with a swarm of nasties on my end; so now I've gone back to my tried-and-tested technique: position ranged attackers, then draw small groups of enemy into the kill-zone, chipping away at them bit by bit until victory. Wading into the crowd like a tank is suicide, but the game would go a lot faster if that were possible.

My rig is, however, giving a lot of serious lag problems, with the game playing like a slide-show when there's lots of movement on-screen. I have better than recommended specs, so there's something obviously wrong with my config. It's still a problem even on the lowest graphics settings, so how to fix? Grumble, grumble...

Anyway, only played through the prologue and ventured some ways into the main story so far. So interesting to eavesdrop on side-conversations between party members as we run across the map. Depending on their attitudes towards each other, they bicker, gripe or whine at each other on the hoof (yeah, my team has teamwork issues). That's the level of detail I've uncovered so far. And that's not including the downloadable content (DLC) yet. Did I mention this game is huge? And with DLC, it'll just keep growing.

Game bugs? I think I encountered one the first time I encountered an ogre. He was killing my team with ease, until he must have got bored. On my last reload, he just stood there and took all the puny punishment my team could dish out without retaliating, then finally worn out, he keeled over and obligingly died. Was that a bug? Or is there a built-in in-game fail-safe for players who are pathetic losers like me? Must keep playing to see if it happens again.

Edit 01:
Oops... there is indeed an auto-build function for lazy gamers. It's in the Character Records screen.

Edit 02:
I seem to have fixed the lag problem. Updated drivers for my RealTek audio. Should have guessed 'cos the dialogue was stuttery at times. Game works brilliantly, now. :)

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