Reader Review: Dragon Age: Awakening

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Adrian played through Dragon Age: Origins without realising he was asleep. Bioware charged him extra to wake up.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Adrian Dowie. If you’ve played Awakening, or just want to ask Adrian more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Dragon Age: Awakening

The expansion pack Awakening continues the tale of the Grey Wardens fighting the darkspawn hordes across the lands of Ferelden. Following the defeat of the big bad boss at the end of the main game your character discovers that there are others behind the darkspawn causing them not to retreat underground. Be kind, it’s hard to describe the story without spoiling it.

Loved

New spells, new specializations: They make sense. I know it sounds silly… but they feel like they should be there. For example there's a battlemage spec instead of a giant green lizard fireball spec that feels like it is just tacked on like most expansions.

Clever quest design: You think you’d just be trouncing a stereotypical dungeon, then slaying a dragon at the end and saving your princess? Not in this expansion buddy. They have cut back on the quests that in the main game led you to wanting to cut yourself after you find you SOLD one glass bottle and won’t find another in the entire game. I also love giving moonshine to young orphans. You’ll know what I mean.

Story (mostly): For the majority of the game you will find yourself thinking you know what is going on and then getting surprised a few minutes later. That said, it is a little lacking in depth. I found the plot decisions to to be more of a Mass Effect 2 nature where there is a ‘grey area’ of two choices rather than DA:O which was more clearcut with your good/evil decisions.

Justice: Justice is a character and by giving you his name I’m not going to give much away. But he is the HK-47 of this expansion. Enough said.

Hated

Bioware syndrome: There really isn’t much continuation and you leave yourself wondering where the hell half the people you met in the main game are. Especially you Leliana… Was it my elf leaving the toilet seat up? By Bioware abandoning thought out characters it makes for a hollow experience. In addition, an expansion where you introduce 5 characters and then offer no guarantee they’ll be playing again makes it hard to give a proverbial about any of them since it is short.

Loading screens and baby face eating-things: Towards the end load times are long. Oh and the face-eating monster things are stupid.

The ending: I was really, really disappointed in the ending because personally it felt like it had the depth of a glass of water. You’ll have to play it yourself but… I just felt underwhelmed after the build-up to that point.

Overall Awakening delivers more of the Dragon Age experience that fans loved in the first game in a 15 hour package. You will find yourself flustered as to where your companions are from the main game but the new ones do a decent job at holding attention… but apart from that it is an enjoyable experience and at least fulfills what an expansion should be in terms of fun.

Reviewed By: Adrian Dowie

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words - yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


Comments

    I think I'll add that while I could have said alot more, this was the bare essential of what I'm trying to say.

    It really does seem that this will be the end of the current 'origins' character leaving a huge question mark over what you've actually done. With each game being of a different age (Bioware said this) likely I imagine instead of seeing them firsthand your character will be perhaps one of 'legend' in DA:2. This could work but in the short term, it really made me feel a little disoriented.

    I wasn't sure whether I loved or hated this game and I am still unsure. But it was fun, perhaps because I got so into it that I hated parts that most wouldn't bother talking about shows that I do indeed like it.

    I'll stop talking before this comes an essay. Arrrg.

    Disappointed to hear that the companions from the main game don't feature. Sounds like it ends up as more of a short standalone game based on the Dragon Age IP and engine than a proper expansion. They probably shouldn't have let people continue the Warden from DA:O into DA:A if they were going to half-ass the connection.

    youve gotta remember that getting the same voice actors back for an expansion as well as new charachter is A) gonna cost some money and B) they may not all be avaliable

    The fact that you cant continue after the final boss fight is pointless - so make sure you do all the side quests prior to the final meeting in the Keep

      This too! ugh it infuriated me.

      I left two crafting quests undone because I was dumb. I went back and did them but nothing changed really.

    Yeah I agree, it was more like a jaunty romp than an actual continuation of everything.

    Ah well, it was still nice.

    Just remember to save after going somewhere...
    ...you know...just in case...

    Hi everyone - just finished the x-pack on hard. Thanks for the review, Adrian. Here's my two cents:

    The Good (and I must say, thumbs-up overall for a solid expansion pack, Bioware):

    - Story, overall a detailed narrative with good, strong characters and great set-pieces. I liked the exposition right before the end battle - it answered a lot of questions in a provocative way.

    - New abilities, skills, and loot. I agree with Adrian - great new specializations that allow for different types of gameplay and the dearth of unique items and the money to buy them in DA:O is nicely rectified.

    Bad:

    - Way too easy!!! I played it through on hard and it was anything but. The final fight was pitifully easy (which contributes heavily to the anti-climatic, abrupt feeling of the ending). Really no challenges at all except for two boss fights (you'll know which ones I mean...) This really was a major weakness.

    - A little glitchy around side-quests. Not a deal-breaker at all but you do need to always explore areas fully as some are structured so that you can't return and quests can easily go unfinished. Save often and any major headaches can be avoided.

    In sum, a really enjoyable ex pack to one of the greatest RPGs of all time - too easy, but otherwise a great way to while away some hours.

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