Thursday, 4 December 2014

Dragon Age: Inquisition

One of my favourite games of all time is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Bioware's 2003 Star Wars title that focused on the era 4000 years before the original film trilogy. It was superb and  gave the player a fantastic, in-depth RPG set in the Star Wars universe. From the Wookie home-world of Kashyyyk to the desert planet of Tatooine, the game was and still is the perfect Star Wars game. Battlefront II is still awesome, Dark Forces is still fantastic and Jedi Academy still is incredibly fun, but Knights of the Old Republic still reigns supreme over all of them. However, Bioware then moved onto their own original creations, accumulating in the release of Mass Effect. I also loved Mass Effect, but with the release of Mass Effect 3 something changed. There was a very noticeable change in the quality Bioware was churning out. After three pieces of crap in the form of Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age 2 and The Old Republic, this latest release has a lot riding on it. That said, I'm happy to say that not only have Bioware returned to form, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the best games of 2014.

Developed by Bioware and out now on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC comes Dragon Age: Inquisition, a must-have for any RPG fan out there. The plot in Inquisition isn't a standalone story, so to get the most out of it you'll really need to have a pretty decent knowledge of what went down in both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. You play Inquisition as a new, user created protagonist, one in which you'll get to choose between four races and three classes. The plot takes place in the land of Thedas, roughly one year after the events of Dragon Age 2. A massive explosion has tore multiple rifts in the Fade, the metaphysical realm of the Dragon Age series, and demons are now pouring through into the real world. You are tasked with assembling a team and closing these rifts at any cost. The stakes are incredibly high in Inquisition, and this momentum of dread never loses its steam over 100+ you may sink into the game.

 First off, Inquisition is an open-world game... but not completely open-world. What I mean by that is this land of Thedas isn't one single open landmass to explore, but rather, it's as Bioware puts it, “multi-region”, essentially meaning that it's comprised of a few large, open areas. That may sound disappointing on paper, but damn, Bioware have seriously created an incredible world in Inquisition. Areas cover a large array of different types. From dimly lit caves, bleak deserts, vibrant forests, fortified castles and, of course, the otherworldly Fade, this isn't a copy and paste job like Dragon Age 2. This world is visually unique, beautiful, masterfully constructed and a complete joy to explore.

Combat comes across like the perfect blend between Dragon Age: Origins' slow paced tactical approach and Dragon Age 2's action based take on combat. So while you can simply take your team headlong into a battle and start hacking away at foes, you can also stand back, freeze gameplay, work out your next move and generally make use of the excellent “tactical camera” mode. So whether your want to dictate to your team mid-battle what moves they should unleash, where they should go and who they should protect, or line up their move set before battle and just wing it, Inquisition has you covered no matter what your play-style is. Regardless of which style you lean towards, enemies are smart, often quick on their feet and always present a decent challenge, especially the likes of the high Dragons.

Outside of the main quest there is plenty to see and do. From simple fetch quests to finding shards of an ancient puzzle, the Astrarium, scattered across the land of Thedas, there's enough content to keep you busy. Then there's the moments in which you'll discover your own adventures. While playing Inquisition I couldn't walk for more than five minutes without seeing something I wanted to explore further. Whether it was on my way to finishing a fetch quest or nearing the end of the main quest itself, the world is just so detailed and packed full of content that I found myself going off the beaten track at every turn.

Boasting an incredibly in-depth dialogue system and a varied and impressive list of weapons and spells to use, upgrade and master, Inquisition is not only the best Dragon Age game to date, but one of the best games of 2014. It's sprawling in scope, written immensely well compared to the cock-up that was Dragon Age 2 and genuinely a must-have for all RPG fans out there. Bioware is back.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is a return to form for Bioware and gets 5/5.


Denis Murphy

Dragon Age: Inquisition at CeX

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