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BioWare | Official Site
RPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 11/18/14)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Buy to Play | Monthly Fee:n/a
System Req: PC XBox 360 Playstation 4 Xbox One | Out of date info? Let us know!

Bioware Reclaims the RPG Crown - Edit

Bioware Reclaims the RPG Crown

Dragon Age Inquisition is one of the most beautiful games ever made in terms of visuals, sound and music. Grass and trees sway in the breeze. Waves angrily crash against rocks at the seaside. Puffs of dust fly with the wind in arid desert regions. Accompanying all of this are ambient sounds of leather creaking on a mount’s saddle. Armor clinks as players stride through the world. Metal clashes as weapons come together in a hail of sparks. Further setting the mood is the music that can create a sense of foreboding or one of soaring hope. The package is simply that good.

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That is not to say that all is perfect, however. There were times adventuring throughout the world when inexplicable crashes stopped the game in its tracks, potentially erasing long periods of play. Luckily, Bioware has included a decent autosave function that makes it so a crash doesn’t negate hours of play. But even with that, it is mystifying why the game suddenly spikes RAM and CPU usage to points that the PC shuts the game down, especially given the closure of background programs and such that might interfere.

As for visuals, there is no way to say it than bluntly: The shiny armor MUST go. Players opting for a Warrior will find themselves decked out in armor that is as bright as the shiny side of aluminum foil. All metal, in fact, defies logic. Falling off mountains, throwing oneself in the river, repeatedly having armor bashed by enemies does nothing to erase the shiny. It is, quite frankly, distracting at times and can be an immersion breaker.

Also inexplicable is the fact that DAI is shipping with a hugely distracting bug in that the same shine that is applied to armors also is applied to skin, lips and hair. Nothing says “lack of bathing facilities” and “way too much lip gloss” than the texture bug that applies gross amounts of shine to things that simply should not be so. Honestly, this is one that should not have made the Gold cut and is a big strike on the polish score.

These issues aside, players will be roaming in Thedas for years, especially those who like to have every nook and cranny discovered, every chest opened and looted, every quest completed, every potential romance explored and every companion thoroughly happy with the way events have unfolded. There is no shortage of things to do, of that there is no doubt. It seems that revisiting an area often yields yet another new discovery, a new story nugget or a new claim to be made to build the Inquisition.  And for once, there's all of this content at launch, without the need for DLC to sweeten it immediately.

Dragon Age Inquisition doesn’t only stand on its merits as a single player RPG. BioWare took the multiplayer lessons learned from Mass Effect 3 and put them to good use here. Players can cooperatively work through missions in groups of four. Multiplayer also comes with progression, loot finds, crafting and classic dungeon crawl opportunities.  In a lot of ways, it's like just playing the dungeons of an MMO. If the story or questing in the main game becomes tiresome or feels “grindy”, multiplayer stands ready to give even more ways to enjoy DAI with the same level of attention to detail and some awesome features.

Lastly, and given all that has been said above, Dragon Age Inquisition is a great bargain for the price. Players can pick up a PC, PS3, PS4, XBox 360 or XBox One version in either standard ($60) or deluxe ($70) editions, the latter coming with in-game goodies that make the extra $10 well worth it. Given the enormity of the game and the multiplayer, the value is pretty clear.

There is no way within the scope of this review to cover everything that Dragon Age Inquisition is in terms of story, game play, visuals, combat, companions, romances, and everything else that makes up what can only be described as Bioware’s return to glory and as the preeminent force in the RPG genre. Dragon Age Inquisition is a must play for anyone who calls themselves a fan of role playing games.  

Dragon Age Inquisition, when or if it is finally completed will leave players with the overall sense that this game will replace a favorite movie and a beloved book as a source of contemplation for a long, long time.

If you haven’t yet ordered DAI, do. You will not be sorry.

Gameplay & Story – 9/10: The combat is fluid and responsive with amazingly beautiful visuals. All character classes have a brilliant representation in terms of customization to build exactly the character desired. Melee classes definitely feel underpowered in the first twenty hours or so of the game with ranged bow users (Hello, Varric!) taking the DPS meter by storm.

No other company crafts a better story than Bioware. They have exceeded themselves in DAI and have even made side questing interesting and worth doing. Each book, each relic, each sign on the wall contains a nugget in the overall story of Thedas and are so lovingly written that players will want to go find these treasures.

Visuals and Sound – 8/10: Eye candy from start to finish. The environments are so beautiful as to seem almost real, better than real in some cases. Armors and generally all metals are way too shiny and this definitely takes away from the overall portrait Bioware wants to paint. The shiny has got to go (see tidbit in polish about a known issue regarding shine).

Longevity – 9/10: Most players will shoot through the initial story quickly and subsequently want to try it out with a different character, different dialog options, and exploring Thedas along different lines. Many will want to try to explore every nook and cranny in the game. The only thing that pushes the score back slightly is the somewhat ‘grindy’ nature that that might entail. Add in the multiplayer component, the cooperative multiplayer component, and you have a surefire recipe for DAI lasting years.

Polish – 7/10: Gorgeous visuals balance out annoying texture issues and the occasional and inexplicable memory leaks that cause the game to crash. Crashes and texture loading issues occur frequently enough to lower the score slightly. In addition, it appears that Dragon Age: Inquisition will be shipping with a known issue that paints a high shine on characters’ hair, lips and skin. It’s too bad this one, a rather large and glaring bug, wasn’t finished prior to the game’s release.

Value – 10/10: Dragon Age Inquisition is available on PC, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, and XBox One. Each platform has a standard edition for $60 and a deluxe edition that includes in game items for $70. Given the massive world and story, it is the best gaming bargain this year.

REVIEW DISCLAIMER: Dragon Age Inquisition was reviewed for PC using a mouse and keyboard configuration. Scores are appropriate to this platform only.  The version of Dragon Age Inquisition utilized for the purpose of this review was provided by EA-Bioware and is the standard edition of the game. PC set up includes an Intel Core i5-2500k CPU @ 3.30GHz 3.30GHz, 8GB RAM, Windows 8.1 64-Bit OS, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX-670.

Final Score

8.6

Pros
 Amazing, immersive story
 Fun action or tactical combat
 Gorgeously crafted game world
Cons
 Immersion breaking skin, hair, lip textures
 Inexplicable game crashes
 Too shiny armor