(http://dragonage.bioware.com/awakening) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. The first expansion to last year’s award winning Dragon Age: Origins is a great addition for fans who crave more of the intense real-time RPG battles and excellent storytelling. The story details a series of unbelievable events that started with an organized darkspawn raid after the Archdemon was slain in Origins. There are some addition and also reduction from the original. The value of this expansion comes down to what the player appreciates more – gameplay or story?

(http://dragonage.bioware.com/awakening) Rated M for Mature by ESRB. The first expansion to last year’s award winning Dragon Age: Origins is a great addition for fans who crave more of the intense real-time RPG battles and excellent storytelling. The story details a series of unbelievable events that started with an organized darkspawn raid after the Archdemon was slain in Origins. There are some addition and also reduction from the original. The value of this expansion comes down to what the player appreciates more – gameplay or story?

       

In comparison to the original, Awakening appears to be more gameplay-oriented. Even though the world-threatening blight is supposedly over, the scale of the battles are larger than ever. During battles or inside dungeons, the fighting feels far more intense and continuous since the breaks between fights are much shorter. Awakening not only pushes the player’s field command abilities, it also extends the fun of preparation. The extended skill trees are but one of the extra contents found in this expansion. All these add up to allow a lot more freedom in character building whereas in the original, it kind of stopped at the point where it started to get interesting – i.e. when the character is finally getting close to fully built near the very end of the game.

       

Having expectation for a full length story and holistic presentation may perhaps be somewhat greedy for a $40 expansion, but once started, the high expectation set for Origins comes right back and it can’t be helped but to notice the few things amiss. The hardest one to accept is perhaps that the camera no longer zooms in on the party members’ face when talking to them, and they respond like generic characters in all other RPGs with their single-sentence comments except for the gratefully numerous special situations.

       

The expansion certainly extends Dragon Age’s replayability especially since we don’t quite have Dragon Age 2 to look forward to. It is also helpful that it stands on its own, as it brings back the sense of adventure and curiosity from Origins’ splitting storylines. The best fun to have with this expansion however lies with building and re-building the character skill trees, as supposed to in Dragon Age: Origins, which the best part could easily be said as role-playing differently and shaping contrasting adventures in multiple run-throughs.

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