GameSpot Reviews - Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening Video Review

Uploaded by gamespot on 17.03.2010

Dragon Age Origins: Awakening is an old fashioned expansion pack that harks back to the days
when add-ons were just more of a good thing and offered more than an hour or two of gameplay.
And when a game is as good as Dragon Age is, more of a good thing is always welcome. Awakening
isn't as special as the main game. The story isn't that great, and the new characters aren't
nearly as interesting as the ones you grew to love before. There are also a few bugs
you might run into. But in spite of some drawbacks, Awakening is a lot of fun, and it raises the
level cap and adds new spells and skills, and new specializations. And Ferelden is such
a great place, so rich with adventure, that returning to it feels like going home.
From the outset, you have a choice: import a character from Dragon Age, or build a new
level 18 character from scratch. Either way, you begin your adventure near the fortress
of Vigil's Keep, where the darspawn threat hasn't dissipated. In fact, you run into a
talking darkspawn, which is unusual in and of itself. Who's leading these creatures?
It's your goal to find and eliminate the source of the new threat. Along the way, you'll pick
up some party members. One of them is an old friend, but the rest are new. The banter between them can be great, but Awakening
characters like Anders and Justice don't hold a candle to Dragon Age characters like Alistair
and Morrigan. And the right of conscription is evoked so casually and so often in Awakening
that neither the Joining nor the Grey Wardens seem all that special anymore. But there are
some cool story highlights, like an interesting visit to The Fade, a family conflict, and
your first glimpses of the evil lurking behind the scenes. It's a decent story--it just doesn't
come close to the original.
Luckily, everything else is of the high quality you'd expect from a Dragon Age expansion.
There are tough choices to make in which lives hang in the balance... Including a couple
of memorable damned if you do, damned if you don't moments. All the areas are new, and
developer Bioware has paid closer attention to the art design. Several of the new locations
are moody and darkly lit, which adds a nice sense of mystery and atmosphere. And of course,
there's the action. Awakening isn't as challenging as Dragon Age was at release, but it's full
of enjoyable and colorful action that will keep your fingers busy on the mouse and keyboard.
Highlights include a tough battle against two young dragons at once, and an even tougher
final boss battle that's much more fun to take on than the main game's end boss. In
other words, Awakening is a lot of fun, and while the action hasn't really changed, that's
a really wonderful thing. It wasn't broken, and thankfully, no one tried to fix it.
There are some nice additions to the formula, however. There are three new skill chains:
Runecrafting, vitality, and clarity. Runecrafting is the only active skill and it works like
making poisons and traps: You just collect the right ingredients and combine them into
a fancy new rune that you can slot into a weapon or armor. Vitality and clarity are
passive bonuses to vitality and mana or stamina. And each class has two new specializations
that come with new spells and talents. The new talents don't drastically change gameplay,
but they add a lot more options to play around with. Using these new spells and skills, you
come face to face with cool new enemies called the children, which come in a few different
forms. There are new items as well, like stamina draughts that let your warriors and rogues
replenish their stamina quickly. And of course, new characters mean new relationships to cultivate.
So there aren't any surprises in store for you, and a few visual bugs can get a little
distracting. But Dragon Age: Awakening is great in spite of its flaws. You'll get around
15 hours of play, give or take, so at $40, it isn't the incredible value Dragon Age:
Origins was. Yet it's still a worthwhile investment for the pure role-playing joy and flexibility
that it offers. The combat is as fun and flashy as always, new spells and talents expand your
horizons, and several tough fights will test your abilities. In other words, it's time
to head back to Ferelden.