Dragon Age: Origins is probably the best RPG I’ve played since Lunar on Sega CD. Or maybe the Might and Magic series on PC. Or maaaaaaaaaaybe the original Final Fantasy on the NES.
None of those had the kind of character development that Origins had though. It was simply amazing to me how many conversations a pair of characters would have in the background. I’d be walking around town or the woods or whatever, and two of the characters in the party would start bickering. so I’d have to stop and turn around so I could watch the full conversation. Some of the characters did not get along at all!
And during conversations with other characters in the story, the decisions you made in conversation, and even the way you said things affected how the other characters looked at you. In some games, like Knights of the Old Republic (also a bioware game), your decisions shaped the whole party, if you were evil, they were all evil, or if you were good they were all good. In origins, everyone had their feelings and their goals and history, so if you were too good, they’d get pissed off and not be as effective as they could be. If you were bad enough to them, they’d up and split on you. You could even become romantically involved with characters, and others would become jealous, or extremely disapproving.
Each of the possible party characters also had their own personal quest line, where you had to help them do something, or fix their past, or their future. The sad thing is that I didn’t realize that, so I only stumbled into a couple of them by mistake. I did a couple more in a second play-through, but I really wish there had been something in the game itself to indicate that the person had a quest, like other quest givers do.
It was also interesting how every main quest line had at least 2 possible endings. In one of them, (the dwarves one), I ended up getting “used” by the dude that I ended up getting installed as king. By the time I realized what was going on, It was too late. I had to follow through with the chain of events I had set in motion. In all my years of playing RPGs, this is one of the few times I’ve felt real remorse for doing something in a game.
I started a second play-through to try some of the other options and quests, but gave up about a third of the way. The game is just so huge, I didn’t have another 50 hours to play it again when there are so many other good games to play! There has been a fair amount of DLC released for Dragon Age already, so it may be one that I pick up a used copy of the game later on in the year during a dry spell to continue on in my second quest to see if I can get through the game with the other choices… but we’ll see.