Dragon Age: Origins Console PreviewPublisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Xbox 360
, PC, PlayStation 3
We’ve seen Dragon Age: Origins
a fair bit over the last year or so and we’ve been consistently impressed by how well BioWare’s epic RPG is shaping up... on PC. Until recently we hadn’t actually had a chance to go hands on with Dragon Age: Origins
on consoles and a question kept going round and round in the back of our heads – how would an epic RPG of this scale control on a console if BioWare was true to its promise of not dumbing the game down.
The answer, it turns out, was incredibly simple. It uses a radial menu.
Sure, that’s a bit of an underwhelming answer, but it’s also incredibly to the point and if you’re like us and have been desperately wondering what the control system will be like for the past months then you can now rest easy. It’s a radial menu.
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Continuing in the vein of being as succinct and to the point as possible, we’ll go ahead and say that it doesn’t really work all that well either and the UI on consoles suffers a bit from being a bit too cluttered and not having a simple and direct interface. The PC version of the game, which we’ve played several times now, controls far better than the console one.
A handy analogy for comparing the two is that the PC interface is like being a kid in a candy store with some very generous parents – all you have to do is point at what you want and voilà
! Point, click, get – easy. The console version is like the same situation, but this time both your arms are in a cast, your parents are only half paying attention and you’re diabetic. In short, it’s harder to get at what you want and, even when you do, you’re not really sure about it any more...
Before we get dredged down in the banalities of the control system and how the game works on a mechanical level though, we know that not everyone may have followed the game as closely as we have and may need a little refresher course in all things old and dragon-ey. Fortunately, since we’ve written about the game such an enormous amount we’ve learned exactly how to condense the synopsis to only the required facts. Here goes...
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Dragon Age: Origins
is a RPG where you have to save the world from demons, probably with a sword or bow, though you can use magic if you want.
There’s more to it obviously if you want to get down into the nitty-gritty details. There’s this whole thing about the Grey Wardens, for example – a secret society of warriors who oppose the demons (who call themselves The Blight and who come once every few hundred years). The Grey Wardens used to be heroes, but have fallen on hard times and are now struggling to raise an army that’s decent enough to push the hellspawn back into their hidey-holes. The latest lackey of the Grey Wardens, it falls to you to run around recruiting soldiers for that army.
It’s important to understand by the way that we’re no being blasé about Dragon Age: Origins
out of any real prejudice against the game. We like the story. We think it’s good and we’re very much looking forward to the full game when it does come out on PC. On the other hand, we’ve written about the game an awful lot and there’s little point going over and over the same ground when what’s really relevant right now is that the controls for console version of the game don’t work very smoothly or intuitively.
So, let’s get back to talking about those controls.