Warning: This article contains spoilers. I would, however, appreciate if you did not spoil anything beyond the point of the game that I discuss.

Areas spoiled: Mage Origins story

The past week nearly killed me: I had a pre-ordered copy of Dragon Age sitting on my desk, yet did not want to start it up for fear of abandoning Dawn of War 2 for the second time. I’m a completionist, you see, and hate not finishing games. Thankfully I pounded out DoW2 a few nights ago, and so last night was finally free to play some Dragon Age.

My character, Fiona, is an elven mage. While I don’t usually play female characters in games like this, I was not a fan of the look of male elves, and so decided I’d try playing a lady.

Some random thoughts on my first two hours of play, which saw me through to the end of the mage Origins story:

- Within five minutes of starting the game I already had a male NPC hitting on me, which was awkward given that the voice acting was fairly convincing. I was creeped out enough to avoid that particular NPC for the rest of the Origins story, although I didn’t tell him to go take a leap when the option was added.

- The persistent blood splatters that quickly gather on player characters is neither realistic looking nor particularly necessary. It was utterly silly to watch Lily (an otherwise soft spoken Chantry initiate) engage in normal conversation while seemingly oblivious to the fact that she was coated from head to toe in gore. I have no idea what Bioware was thinking when they incorporated this feature; it seems like blood for the sake of blood, and detracts from the experience.

- While I appreciate the wide range of dialog options, it would be nice if the game learned what sort of responses that I was inclined to choose, and did not simply hand me a laundry list of all possible options. For example, I could play Fiona as a racist elf with a huge chip on her shoulder if I wanted to – which is great – however after not selecting those options for two hours it would be nice to see them drop off the quick list of dialog choices (or at least be hidden by default, with a “more options” button available).

- The Harrowing was extremely well done, especially how it ends with Mouse. I hope to come across him again, because he seems to be a much deeper character than I initially thought.

- The repercussions of choosing to freely help Jowan (which I was really leery of) made me squirm. I tried to find proof of my friend’s alleged misdeeds but couldn’t and so gave him the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately that was a mistake. While I didn’t want to fall on my sword completely, especially in front of Greagoir, neither was I completely innocent. The dialog options presented through this part of the game forced me into some hard choices, and I can easily see the results turning out differently.

- Interestingly, a co-worker of mine is playing an elven mage as well and decided to rat out Jowan. While this didn’t change the sequence of quests that he ran, he was not treated nearly as harshly as I was at the culmination of the quest.

- Is it bad that I’m thinking I want to specialize as a blood mage eventually? Already I’m picking spells that have that flavor: entropy will be my primary school, and I’d like to collect a lot of the ice spells from the primal school. I don’t want Fiona to be a goodie-goodie; I’d prefer her to be fairly self-interested, although not to an extreme.

- Small-scale combat feels really fluid so far. I appreciate the ability to pause the action whenever I want and issue specific orders. I’ve definitely found it helpful to have multiple crowd control spells even through the early quests – both Paralyze and Blizzard can be used to stop an enemy for a significant amount of time.

My wife works all weekend, so I suspect I’ll have a lot more to say soon!

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