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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » DA: Awakening - Review Roundup #1

Default DA: Awakening - Review Roundup #1

March 18th, 2010, 16:18
Well, Awakening is here and the major sites have been quick to get reviews out. Here's our first roundup.
1Up awards a B+, calling the gameplay "pretty good but somewhat flawed":
This expansion does follow the BioWare formula, so you're given a handful of regions and a directive to take care of them however you want. Quests range from more imaginative than in Origins (investigating a literal ghost town) to the expected (go underground and clear out the darkspawn). In-between story-critical quests, you're often asked to deal with political matters back at the fortress, such as making, "who is right/wrong" judgments and resolving genuine dilemmas (will you allocate troops to the farms, or to the city?). Finally, there are numerous sidequests: puzzles to solve within dungeons, helping a party member deal with family issues, or taking on a spectral dragon. As good as these quests are, they also fall victim to the glitchiness from having a big game with so many moving parts within; I've had quest triggers either fail to initialize (meaning I couldn't progress), or trigger incorrectly (in one instance, I helped the cops rather than the criminals, but even after killing said criminals, the guards treated me as though I sided with the bandits, until I reloaded and replayed the entire quest chain).
Thanks to Thrasher for that link.
On to GameSpot, with an 8/10, calling it "entertaining but not groundbreaking":
They say you can't go home again, but whoever coined that old adage apparently wasn't talking about the realm of Ferelden. Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening returns you to this familiar and fair fantasy world, where degenerate demons called darkspawn have ravaged the land. The forces of evil may still lurk, but fans of 2009's wonderful Dragon Age will settle easily into the game's first full expansion pack, which harbors few surprises but delivers all the loot-happy adventuring that they'd expect. Awakening is not as exceptional as the main game; its story and characters make little impression, which is a disappointment compared to Dragon Age's splendid yarn. But in spite of some story frustrations and scattered bugs, Awakening is more of a terrific thing. It isn't a groundbreaking expansion, but it's an entertaining one that reminds us that if it isn't broken, there's no need to fix it.
IGN goes a little higher at 8.5/10 and they liked the story and characters more than GameSpot:
It should come as no surprise to fans of the original game that Dragon Age Origins Awakening is going to give you more of what you want. There's an epic story with choices that really matter, fantasy combat with loads of amazing enemies, and a deep character system with lots of flexibility. It has a strong narrative connection to the original game, but the sense that your previous choices matter isn't as strong as we'd have liked. I still miss the old companions, but the new characters are just as interesting once you get to know them.
VideoGamer also goes for 8/10 and here's a more negative quote to balance the ledger:
Still, there's a feeling that an opportunity has been missed here. As an expansion released some time after Origins, we had hoped Awakening would address some of Dragon Age's problems. It doesn't. The game, functionally, works and plays exactly the same. It's still much better on the PC, where you can zoom out and fine tune your battle strategy with the mouse and keyboard. The graphics, as they did in Origins, at times look half a generation behind Mass Effect 2. And the archaic PC RPG design remains untouched.
Lastly for the moment, Game Informer scores a very specifc 7.75/10, who quote 15 hours rather than the 25 indicated in most of the others:
[quote]
All of the features where Awakening could have built on the Dragon Age foundation are sidelined, like the team at BioWare knew where to expand but didnít have the time to flesh them out. Building up your base at Vigilís Keep is just a handful of simple upgrades. Governing the region is handled in a single sequence where you mete out justice. Unraveling a conspiracy against your rule is a brief sidequest. Maybe a 15-hour adventure isnít enough to time to dig into these concepts, but they feel pretty hollow and unsatisfying as implemented.
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March 18th, 2010, 16:18
I'm a little confused - is this supposed to be 25 hrs or 15hrs for an average playthrough? As an RPG expansion, 15hrs would be underwhelming. There is a huge difference though, so who is right? I know Bioware have been evasive about giving the expansion a playthrough time (although not for DA:O iirc) The amount of 'bang-for-buck' will determine if I buy this or not - and by my own metrics I'd need at least 25+ hrs to consider this a worthwhile buy.
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March 18th, 2010, 18:06
just play thru it really slow
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March 18th, 2010, 20:38
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
just play thru it really slow
Thank you for your insightful and very helpful comment.
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March 18th, 2010, 20:54
Well, look at it this way - youre gonna moan and groan about how much you couldnt wait for it to be over for about 6 months after you play it anyway. So yes, I think in the end youre getting more than enough "time" for your buck.

Hell, youre getting quite a deal!
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March 18th, 2010, 22:43
I hate review sites. All the summaries read like the expansion is very underwhelming but the final score is still better than most of those sites gave the entire games of Risen or KB:AP. They read like you can feel the writer cringing about the content but the editor is standing next to their desk with a graph showing how much EA has spent on marketing on their site.

Also remember when an expansion meant a new character class or 3 or an entirely new mechanic to the game? I'm too lazy to look up the retail on this but compare this expansion to any of WoW's or Stardock's games or even Bioware's own Hordes of the Underdark. Those are expansions worth $20-$30.
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March 19th, 2010, 16:26
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
Well, look at it this way - youre gonna moan and groan about how much you couldnt wait for it to be over for about 6 months after you play it anyway. So yes, I think in the end youre getting more than enough "time" for your buck.

Hell, youre getting quite a deal!
one review says 15 hrs play time another says 25, almost 50% less play time. I think 15 is too low - so if that's all it is, I would pass until it lands in the bargain bin. If it's 25, then that's ok and I'd buy it now (or soonish) . It's a simple question, and the majority of people here would treat it as such and either ignore it (if they did not know) or post an honest informed opinion. Clearly you have axe to grind…so please go and grind it elsewhere.
Last edited by booboo; March 19th, 2010 at 16:41.
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March 19th, 2010, 21:46
Desslock said 25 hours at Qt3, and his initial playthrough of DA was >80 hours, which is close to my first play time (79 hours).

On the other hand, I've seen people claim "thorough" initial play times for DA of 40 hours. I think they must have missed a lot but what do I know.

I saw someone claim they finished DA:A in 12 hours, but they were a 40 hour DA guy. How long did your first DA run take?

Personally, I never measure value in hours. My only measure is "will I enjoy the game?".

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March 20th, 2010, 21:25
Wow, what a novel approach! **jots that one down**
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March 21st, 2010, 11:32
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Desslock said 25 hours at Qt3, and his initial playthrough of DA was >80 hours, which is close to my first play time (79 hours).

On the other hand, I've seen people claim "thorough" initial play times for DA of 40 hours. I think they must have missed a lot but what do I know.

I saw someone claim they finished DA:A in 12 hours, but they were a 40 hour DA guy. How long did your first DA run take?

Personally, I never measure value in hours. My only measure is "will I enjoy the game?".
I finished DA:O in about 60 hours - I missed one or two side quests, and did not get to complete 2 others (involving dragons…) But on the whole, I felt I had a pretty complete playing experience.

I do take you point about enjoyment, but at the same time if I'm used to getting 25-30 hrs from a decent RPG expansion (all the memorable ones I've played) , and I now get 15 at the same price point - I would not feel that was good value for money. I also feel that the only way to signal displeasure with companies that continually erode value for money, is to vote with your wallet - so what I was trying to establish was whether this expansion really merited that title, or whether it was a 'super-DLC' release (which I would def not buy).

Anyway, it sounds like it may well be worth the money - thanks for the comprehensive reply - one of the reasons I visit this site!
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March 21st, 2010, 20:17
I've played through it now, and I agree with most of the reviews - it's a decent expansion, but it's basically just "more of the same" and very little new.

Basically, if you're in the mood for more Dragon Age, it'll satisfy you. If you're not, it won't. There's nothing new that will make anyone change their mind about the game.

Oh, and I spent about 15 hours, being somewhat thorough, though some quests bugged so I couldn't make any progress. Speaking of which, it's definetly less polished than Origins - I encountered several bugs that broke quests and similar.
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March 21st, 2010, 20:29
What makes me sad is that an "expansion" like this, is likely of a higher standard than what we'll see from most other companies out there - now that they've all latched on to the concept of DLC (Dreary Limited Content).
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March 21st, 2010, 22:26
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Personally, I never measure value in hours. My only measure is "will I enjoy the game?".
I think this is a good point. We're very used to measuring value in time, not because we're desperate to unload our time, but because time is just a shorthand way of measuring how big a game is. But as I get older, I'm starting to value the hours themselves, and if a company could (just theoretically) deliver a compelling gameplay experience in half the timeÖ maybe that's not such a bad thing.

But then expansions, by their nature, might be better weighed differently. I say this because thy're aimed at fans who couldn't get enough of the original.
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