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Dragon Age: Origins — Return to Ostagar Review

Technically, a Return. Effectively, More like a Quick Pit Stop

Dragon Age: Origins — Return to Ostagar Screenshot

HIGH The new armor and weaponry is pretty good stuff.

LOW It's about an hour long, total.

WTF Where are all the dialogue options?

Dragon Age: Origins Second Opinion

Enchantment?

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

HIGH This is a very serious breach of protocol, but I have two: 1) Watching my companions change from fantasy archetypes into actual characters. 2) Glyph of Repulsion + Inferno + a doorway = awesome.

LOW The sheer amount of useless crap that I'm presented with while looting. (NOTE: This has been relieved somewhat by a recent update.)

WTF Enchantment!

Gamer Diversity

Mass Effect Screenshot

Getting close to wrapping up my second time through Mass Effect, and since I almost never replay games, it's been an interesting experience. A friend asked me today how it was going through again, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn't nearly as fun as it was the first time. Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that there's anything the matter with the game itself, it's more about the kind of player that I am.

No Mass Effect 2 Collector's Editions at GameStop? Fail!

Mass Effect 2 Screenshot

Still working my way through Mass Effect again in preparation for the January release of Mass Effect 2. I have to admit, I'm very pleased to see that the game holds up in all the areas that made it such a favorite of mine. Even better, this time around I consulted an FAQ (I didn't previously) and thanks to the diligent work of some dedicated fans, I've seen some side-quests and alternate paths that I didn't know existed. Even two years after release, it still impresses.

Mass Effected

Mass Effect Screenshot

So, I'm replaying Mass Effect. Why? Well, I had no plans to. I had a blast playing it the first time through, felt totally satisfied, and was greatly looking forward to the next installment. Over, done with, finished.

Chosen at birth

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

Last post, I mentioned that the tendency to choose segregation as a means to solve problems was a feature of many societies in the world of Dragon Age. Another, related motif appearing in many Thedan societies is the existence of a rigidly-defined social order in which a person's status and even his occupation are set at the moment of birth. To varying degrees this kind of social rigidity appears in almost every social group in the game (except the elves). Through its dialogue and plot, Dragon Age: Origins repudiates these systems, but in its mechanics it supports them.

Out of sight, out of mind

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

Playing Dragon Age gave me a relatively frequent sense of déjà vu. Although the game portrays a number of different nations and societies, there are recurrent features that speak to underlying ideas about the psychology of its inhabitants. One such motif is the tendency for its denizens to solve their problems through segregation. At several levels, the people of the continent of Thedas like to resolve issues by pushing problematic groups into isolated areas and pretending, as much as possible, that they no longer exist.

Dragon Age: Origins Review

Frodo, Meet Commander Shepard

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

HIGH Superb characterizations, story, and role-playing.

LOW The combat system is a mess.

WTF Screwing up a quest by missing one line of dialogue 20 hours beforehand.

The ethics of same-day DLC

The ethics of same-day Dragon Age DLC

As is somewhat apparent, I've been spending some time (a lot of time, actually) with BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins. Although it's got a few issues, it's a great Adventure-RPG if you like the style as much as I do, and it's had no trouble keeping my interest. However, there has been something that's been bothering me about it—the character Shale.

For those that don't know, Shale is an extra character that can be recruited into the player's party. A powerful wrecking-ball of a golem with a witty personality, he's a very attractive prospect. The issue? He's only available via DLC.

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