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Dragon Age: Origins Hands-on Preview

Dragon Age: Origins Hands-On Preview

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Expected release: Q3 2009

Spiritual successors are dangerous things and always it seems that fans of the original are hating the bastard children which claim to be such things. Just look at all the flak that Jesus’ little brothers and sisters had to put up with – being immortalised in a Dan Brown book? That’s the worst insult imaginable!

At the same time though, it’s hard not to get excited when a company like BioWare says that not only has it never given up on PC gamers, but is planning to return to it in full with a PC release that's a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 2. You could be the most cynical person imaginable (but we doubt it) and your hopes would still be risen by the proclamation.

To be honest though, cynicism and hope aren’t the emotions that Dragon Age: Origins instilled in us when we went hands-on with it. Instead, what Ray Muzyka’s presentation and our following play-time gave us was a sense of dread.

Dragon Age: Origins Hands-on Preview

Pure, cold and clammier than making love to a beached octopus, the prospect of Dragon Age: Origins as a PC RPG and spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate left us feeling very worrisome indeed – because judging by how successful BioWare has been in achieving this, we may well sink twice as many hours into Dragon Age as we did with BG.

For the record; that’d be at least a couple of hundred hours of tired eyed and girlfriend-neglecting playtime. That’s why we’re afraid of Dragon Age: Origins.

What’s sucking us into the game already though isn’t just the fact that it’s a fairly similar game to Baldur’s Gate – played from an isometric perspective, with a similar (but not D&D) setting, with a wealth of talkative characters and so on. Most of all what’s pulling us is the story and the sheer amount of replayability it’s been designed to offer.

While there are admittedly some fairly big gaps in what we do and don’t know about the plot for Dragon Age: Origins (and what we can and can’t talk about), the basic story focuses on a secret society called the Grey Wardens.

Dragon Age: Origins Hands-on Preview

Founded long ago, the Grey Wardens are an elite order of warriors who, while once legendary and strong, have since dwindled in numbers and renown. The Grey Wardens were founded to fight a specific threat to their world; a race of demonic creatures from another plane that have returned to wage war countless times.

These demons, called The Blight, haven’t been seen in ages however and the Wardens that do remain are uncertain and lacking in numbers – something which obviously leaves them as open to attack as the rest of the world of Orzammar.

In order to repel this impending assault from The Blight, a new hero is needed to galvanise the Wardens into action and to lead them into battle. That same hero will need to bring together the warring races and unite them under a common banner. That hero is destined to build an army that will push the Blight back once and for all – though what forces that army comprises of depends on the hero.

Oh, and just so we’re clear; a hero is you!