Dragon Age Origins: Awakening Expansion Pack
by Matthew Hibben
Good but Short
Following up BioWare's very well received Dragon Age: Origins , Awakening brings users its first expansion, a world of dark fantasy, intriguing characters, and enjoyable plots. Bioware's Awakening offers users a new land to explore and a fair bit of new features as well. But is the addition of new features able to offset the expansion's other shortcomings?
Awakening is first and foremost entirely too short. What do I mean by that and how can anyone even formulate what short is when it comes to game play? Using the main title as a bench mark of price verses content, Origins is 39.99 new and took me well over a week of very intensive gaming to complete. With many more subplot options to delve into I was very happy playing through the content a second time and even found a third play through pretty fresh. This set Origins for me at about 3 very solid weeks of fresh content. So how does the expansion Awakening compare checking in at a retail price of 39.99? Well, the game does look stunning but 13 hours later the game was completed. After a day and a half of playing I felt pretty ripped off. A developers' interview may shed some light into this. From the Dev side - "we do not feel that the length as far as play hours is an accurate benchmark in terms of Awakening's overall size". If play hours isn't a good indication of size, then what is?
What the developer was referring to as other ways to determine the size of Awakenings was the various new features it has: expandable home location which the user can develop further via completing quests (very similar to the phasing content used in World of Warcraft ), great new armor and weapon models which really set Awakenings apart from Origins, and a new inventory storage location, the lack thereof being my biggest gripe about Origins.
Just as BioWare added in a great array of new options they also took things out that were very noticeable. One of the crown jewels of Origins was the npc (non playable characters) scripting. Sadly the ability to interact with the rest of the player controlled group is now comparatively very limited. In Awakenings the user can no longer interact with npcs arbitrarily, and the chatter that was very often witty is now almost non-existent.
The low down is that if you were really into, and I mean really hardcore into Origins, then Awakenings will give some nice new play content. However the average user who may just be looking for more game to conquer, will feel this expansion didn't measure up. Imagine if a movie sequel came out that was one fifth the size of an average 90 minute running time, but in place of length it just provided more action or effects. I think you get the picture.