Dragon Age: Origins Awakening

8.5 Overall Score

I could explain all the pros and cons of Dragon Age: Origins Awakening, but put simply, if you like Dragon Age: Origins, you will like Dragon Age: Origins Awakening. So, did you go buy it? Yes? Then feel free to resume reading. Awakening is not a full game by developer Bioware’s lengthy single player campaign standards, delivering much of the same fantasy fair as its predecessor sans the epic character and storyline development. But if you can get past what it isn’t, you’ll find what it is to be a worthy 20-hour expansion on the award-winning original, featuring a romp through your new home in Ferelden that will provide plenty of loot-gathering and darkspawn-slaughtering to hold you over until the sequel proper is released in March 2011. For what is essentially the videogame equivalent of an appetizer, Bioware serves up a veritable feast filled with the same stuff we loved the first time through the buffet line – exciting combat, entertaining story and engaging decisions that make your visit to Ferelden uniquely your own.


The game begins in Amaranthine, two years after Origins ended. As it turns out, the darkspawn did not flee underground after you slayed the archdemon. Instead, they’ve begun to unionize under the leadership of a select few “talking” darkspawn, which the fine citizenry of Amaranthine naturally find particularly disturbing. Having your lands and homes overrun with monsters is bad enough, but speaking monsters? Talking trees, statues and mice are considered perfectly normal in Ferelden and as such, don’t solicit comment, but talking darkspawn? The world is clearly coming to an end, and the Warden – now Commander Warden thank you very much – is the only one who can stop the unions and maintain feudalism.

Though the main story centers around the increasingly sentient darkspawn, you’ll also have to take care of the survivors of the Blight. With great power comes great responsibility, and as Commander of the lands of the late Arl Howe, you have many responsibilities indeed, beginning with the eradication of darkspawn in your new home base, Vigil’s Keep. But beyond battling darkspawn you’ll be engaging in lots of side missions to fortify the keep, rebuild the Grey Wardens, settle political squabbles, and protect the people of Ferelden from the many werewolves, spirits and monsters that also roam the land. You could power your way through to the game’s epic showdown in a matter of hours, but seeing as the many side missions are just as skillfully scripted and plotted as the main quest, full of amusing character interactions that have become staples of the series, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice. Not to mention robbing yourself of a sizable chunk of the gameplay, as the side missions comprise about two-thirds of the total 20-25 hour playtime.


As enjoyable an extension of Bioware’s carefully crafted universe Awakening is, it is not without its shortcomings. You have a new policy: no sex in the mead room. And no romance. Bioware is know for including the ability to form both hetero and homosexual romantic relationships in its releases, much to the controversy-courting delight of the media, so it’s disappointing and surprising to find in Awakening a total lack of love interests. Like it or not, you’re now abstinent, so hopefully you made the most of your time with Morrigan in Origins. Speaking of which, while a few of your former comrades make an appearance in Awakening, the only party member to cross over is Oghren. He’s still gross. Otherwise, your choices in Origins will have some limited influence on the game, a la Mass Effect, and you’ll pick up party members as the game progresses.

As for your character, you can either import your existing Grey Warden or play as an Orlesian Grey Warden. In addition to the non-playable characters treating you as the “Hero of Ferelden” rather than the “D-bag from Orlais,” importing your character from Origins starts you at a slightly higher level, though that advantage evens out as the game progresses. Another important thing to note is that downloadable content will not transfer from Origins to Awakening, with the exception of items obtained in Return to Ostagar. Before importing your character, you need to insert your Origins disc, load your last Origins save, and place any items you want to take with you on your person, sorta like layering all your vacation clothes to avoid checking your bag. Anything saved in the storage chest in the DLC Warden’s Keep will not carry over, so you either have to have items equipped or saved in your inventory if you want to make use of them in against this latest darkspawn threat.


If you didn’t enjoy Dragon Age: Origins, you won’t enjoy Awakening as it’s pretty much the same formula, down to some of the same glitches, but it’s safe to assume you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t see passed the flaws in the first game to a rich, rewarding fantasy role playing experience. Awakening gives you 20+ more hours of that experience, complete with four new party members, new skills, new items and new enemies to go along with a new level cap. Just because the gameplay and the gameworld is more of the same doesn’t make it any less fun stormin’ the castle!


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Author: JP View all posts by

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