Bioware’s Dragon Age Origin – Preview

 

The Spiritual Successor to Baldurs Gate?

The Spiritual Successor to Baldur's Gate?

 Currently slated for a Q1 2009 release on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, Bioware’s next roleplay game is a return to fantasy in what looks like great style. I spent some time looking at the gameplay videos fom the game’s web site while running some data recovery and was highly impressed with what I saw. Here’s some of the key things I picked up from the four gameplay videos and the trailer. As this is so wordy, I’ve left pics out – don’t want to overload the screen!

The game begins by playing through an origin story which will affect both gameplay and the story as the player progresses.

Dialogue reminiscent of BG and KOTOR, not Mass Effect – player dialogue is unspoken, though responses are voice acted by the other characters.

Actions taken during gameplay will have real effects on the story – killing a prisoner for the key he stole for example, may mean lead to personal vendettas and repurcussions or a formal enquiry.

Backdrops are superb vistas and the models and textures are detailed and well lit – no over the top lighting effects and glare as in titles such as Oblivion. Weather effects seem realistic – raindrops are blown away from their slanting paths as in the real world, for example.

Fans of mature gameplay need not worry – there’s plenty of gore in the game and blood splatters will remain on the characters following battles. Combat often ends with finishing moves, such as beheadings or cool looking maneuvers that leave no doubt as to the fate of your opponent.

Alliances play a key part to the gameplay. Characters are added to the party through dialogue. From the demo it appears that ordinary guards can be recruited in addition to hero type characters. How long they survive will vary of course!

Combat is a return to the Baldur’s Gate / Neverwinter Nights school of behind the scenes dice rolls and strategic use of “talents”. I for one am pleased to see this. While the likes of Jade Empire and Mass Effect have their place, the player needs to be reasonable at combat games. The gameplay here allows more cerebral players to get the full enjoyment from the game.

Spells interact with each other in the game. In the demo (video 4 for those interested), an enemy wizard casts a fireball to set fire to an oil covered room and the player’s Elven Mage uses a Blizard spell to put the flames out and enable the party to enter unharmed. Pretty nifty. Some of the combinations of spell interactions are documented, others need to be discovered by experimentation. Be careful where you point that fireball though, as your allies will not be immune to it’s effects!

Party AI means that the other members will take care of themselves, avoiding avoidable danger and assaulting threats to the player, for example.

The soundtrack seems suitably epic during cutscenes (and presumably the main game)

Screenshots  are available on the main site.

Source: Official Game Site

GS Reporter: WedgeDoc

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