Bioware has a long and well deserved reputation for producing excellent story-driver RPGs, and Dragon Age: Origins is no exception.
Set in the continent of Ferelden on the world of Thedas, an army of evil creatures called Darkspawn is invading, led by a powerful Archdemon, and only the legendary Grey Wardens, knights devoted to destroying the Darkspawn, can fully eradicate this Blight.
This is where you come in. As a newly recruited Grey Warden (chosen from one of three Races and three Professions) you travel to the fortress of Ostagar, where in a titanic battle most of the Grey Wardens are slain along with Fereldens King. With the help of a fellow Grey Warden known as Alastair, it is up to the two of you to gather an army, slay the Archdemon and stop the Blight.
You may select a group of up to four members for your party, from a collection of various characters you meet and recruit along the way, and you will need at least a Rogue in your group at all times, to deal with any locked doors or chests you may encounter, of which there are plenty.
Combat is fast, exciting and bloody. You may give orders to one or more characters on the battlefield, as and when you wish, or assign actions to each in various circumstances - instructing a Mage to case a Fireball at any nearby enemy archers, for instance. In battle the X button is used for a simple attack, with the other three buttons being reserved for special attacks you assign after learning them.
The game is very speech-heavy, particularly in the early stages, but you may skip through dialogue and cut scenes you have seen before. The story is beautifully crafted, with plenty of banter passing between party members as you travel. Each character is fully realised, with their own history, attitudes and prejudices, and which characters are within your party in certain circumstances may open up new questing opportunities, which is a great aid to replayability.
There is a large map with numerous locations to explore, which are revealed when you accept certain quests, and these are numerous. The main quest is ever present, but the scores of side quests gain much needed experience and gold, and help to flesh out Ferelden and its characters.
Dragon Age: Origins is an old-school RPG with months of play involved, a large collection of Trophies, an ever expanding assortment of Downloadable Content and enough player immersion to see you complete it a good two or three times. Three completions is enough to gain every possible Trophy the game has to offer, but it is a pleasure to replay with a different type and class of character, and to see how different party members influence key plot lines. Another sure-fire winner from Bioware.