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May 11, 2010

Reviews: Dragon Age Origins - DLCs & Expansion Pack

Dragon Age: Origins - All Download Content and Expansion Packs
EA, Bioware
Available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC

Dragon Age Origins is probably the best RPG game available on the market right now and while you can play the main disc over and over again for multiple endings and different game play experiences, it’s still nice to know that there is add-on content available for the game. Currently you can download 2 new quests, 1 expansion pack and 2 item packs for the game and I’ve reviewed them all to save you from wasting some good coin on unworthy content.

Dragon Age Origins: The Stone Prisoner
Downloadable Content

This downloadable quest was available as a free extra when you purchased the initial game, so this review is really more for those who buy a used copy of the game. The Stone Prisoner starts with an encounter with a merchant who gives you a control rod for a Golem and information on where he got the rod. Following his information, you arrive in a small town which is under a Darkspawn attack and there you find the rod’s matching broken stone golem, and its former owner’s son in need of much help. Once you complete the son’s mission, you will walk away with the key to a new party member, a stone golem named Shale.

While the main quest of The Stone Prisoner will only take you a couple of hours to complete, the new character and items you gain are quite worth the money spent on the download. Not only do you get a new powerful ally who uses crystals as armor and weapons but you will gain new dialog with this character and eventually a new companion quest which is both funny and enlightening.

Honestly even if this content hadn’t been free with my game purchase, I would have purchased it anyway because Shale alone is worth the spending the all those points. If I had to recommend any download quest as your first, this would be it.

Buy it!

Dragon Age Origins: Return to Ostagar
Downloadable Content

Dragon Age Origins: Return to Ostagar was the first real download made available for purchase after the release of the game. The add-on content was setup as a quest to find the body of King Cailan and Duncan as well as important documents but what the quest really turned out was a poor excuse to get King Cailan’s armor. You end up battling random Darkspawn in the snow for a bunch of armor pieces that aren’t even worth the time unless you decide to download this quest early on in your travels. The rest of the quest is just fluff as far as I’m concerned because even though you manage to find and give final rights to King Cailan, the developers left out finding Duncan’s body which to me should have meant way more to my characters. Sure, you get to slay the ogre that killed him and Cailan but who cares ... I wanted to lay Duncan’s body to rest as well.

The quest is just too short and completely lacking any good items to make it a worthwhile download. Basically this quest was so useless to me when I downloaded it at the end of my main game that I could compare it to the horse armor download for Oblivion, so unless you are really obsessed with having every download available from this game, I would avoid this add-on like the plague.

Pass on it!

Dragon Age Origins: Awakenings
Downloadable Content or Purchase as Hard Disc

I would think that any game that starts you off naked is probably not a good sign. Dragon Age Origins: Awakening was the first true expansion to Dragon Age Origins. Available both as a download or hard disc purchase, Awakening offered a new story, new characters and a whole new land to go killing in. Playing as either your previous Dragon Age Origins character (possibly resurrected) or as a new Grey Warden from Orlais, you arrive at Virgil’s Keep in Amaranthine as the new Grey Warden commander, just as the keep is being attacked by Darkspawn. Once the stronghold is retaken, you discover the Darkspawn are different than before: they are intelligent and split into two feuding factions. With this new information, you must quickly rebuild the Grey Wardens’ defences and defeat the Darkspawn before they destroy everything.

While I can’t say this expansion was a horrible follow-up to the initial game, I can say that it sure as heck wasn’t worth its sticker price. When I spend cash on my games I expect the dollar value to match the game value and if you compare the value of the first game to the value of this game, they don’t match up in the least bit. The first game took me a week to finish roughly and cost $64.99 while the expansion took me 2 days and cost $44.99, so you can see already this expansion isn’t earning its worth. On top of that, they destroyed my favourite part of the first game which was the great characters and their dialog. You get one character in your party from the first game which is Oghren and the rest are all new plus you don’t get to talk to them whenever you choose, only when the game lets you.

There were a couple of new features that made the game a little bit better than the first like the storage chest which would have been handy in the original game and there were some new skills that allowed characters to built up health, stamina, etc. Ultimately I think the storyline is worth a walkthrough if you want to keep saving the world from Darkspawn but I would honestly wait for the price to come down as I feel the expansion is not long or good enough to paid full sticker price for.

Pass on it!

Dragon Age Origins: Blood Dragon Armor
Downloadable Content

The Blood Dragon Armor was the first item you could purchase for Dragon Age: Origins and it came as a free item with your game purchase. Again this review would be for people who bought a used copy of the game. This armor purchase had a couple of good and bad points about it which made it a 50/50 either way purchase. On the good side, it was a strong armor that once purchased all components could be found easily for sale at the camp and a couple of components were placed in your inventory for free. Also the DLC came with a bonus armor download for Mass Effect 2 which was good because it was like getting two items for one.

But on bad side of things, the armor isn’t useful until later on the game when your characters were strong enough to wear it, so you have to cart the extra two pieces around in your inventory which took up precious room and the armor could only be worn by strong characters so buying the armor for the first time is only a good idea if you have a fighter as your main character, otherwise expect a companion to sport the new goods.

Ultimately I think this armor is really only good as a freebie and I wouldn’t personally have downloaded it even if I had bought Mass Effect 2. But hey, some people are item buyers and I’m just not one of them so if you want to jazz up your characters with hot looking armor, then go for it.

Pass on it!

Dragon Age Origins: Feast Day Combo Pack
Downloadable Content

Now I know I said I wasn’t an item buyer on a general basis but I can make exceptions if the items help me rule the world as Queen. The Feast Day Combo Pack was released on April Fool’s Day and it was filled with custom gifts and pranks for your companions plus a bunch of mini gifts and pranks. While the custom pranks aren’t exactly useful in my mind unless you are trying to drive everyone in your party away, the custom gifts are extremely useful as were the mini gifts. The custom gifts will give you a 50 point boost with each companion which is some cases is enough to start a flirtation with a character. Add on the mini gifts and you have a guaranteed flawless relationship with any one as long as you don’t do anything huge to tick them off like defile an urn of sacred ashes.

Now both the custom pranks and the gifts are available in separate download packs but you can’t get the mini gifts without buying the prank pack, so honestly you may as well spend the points and buy the combo pack which is cheaper than the two packs combined. It’s worth it just to see all the funny pranks and their effects but just remember to save before you use them.

Buy it!

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