DA: Awakening - Review Roundup #1
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:
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 didn’t have the time to flesh them out. Building up your base at Vigil’s 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 isn’t enough to time to dig into these concepts, but they feel pretty hollow and unsatisfying as implemented.
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