In its exalted history, BioWare has proven from the beginning they're
not afraid to take chances on something they believe in. When the PC
RPG genre was on the verge of taking its final, rattled breath at the
end of 1998, BioWare single handedly revitalized it with the critically
acclaimed release of Baldur's
Gate. It was an important step in the
history of computer RPGs. Rather than rehashing the same ideas and
content that had been bandied about for years by various companies
(mainly SSI at the time), it pushed the boundaries of what anyone
thought was possible and by doing so, threw the player base into a
frenzy. The current field of good RPGs isn't quite as barren as it was
then, but it's about to receive that same shot of adrenaline with the
upcoming release of Dragon
Just as they did with Baldur's
Gate, BioWare has set out to push the
envelope of possibilities further than ever before. Such bold moves are
not without their inherent dangers though. In an age where the sight of
an exposed nipple due to a “wardrobe malfunction”
on live television not only dominated headline news for weeks, but
caused parents across the nation to throw up their arms in protest,
could the release of a game as brutal and gritty as style="font-style: italic;">Dragon Age: Origins
be a risky move?
If you took little more than a perfunctory glance at the warning label,
the argument could be made that it could prove disastrous for both
developer and publisher alike. The reasons listed for the
game’s mature rating are "Blood, Intense Violence, Language,
Partial Nudity, and Sexual Content". This list alone has the volatile
potential of a nuclear bomb to send parents and moral conservatives
into fits of instant hysteria. While I think the types of reactions
we've seen to such things in the past have bordered on the purely
hot coffee, anyone?), both BioWare and style="font-style: italic;">Dragon Age:
Origins are cut from a different cloth than those that
have come before
them and they've proven it on multiple occasions.
The greatest strength of Dungeons & Dragons has always been the
ability to play a character of your own creation and explore a fantasy
world as you see fit. Free to make both intelligent and asinine
decisions alike, along with all of those in between. We're still not
ready to hand over the reigns of our favorite Dungeon Master to the
shiny circuits of a computer, but we're getting closer by the day and
BioWare’s new title will be an important step toward that
How can it accomplish such a feat? By making the world gritty, brutal,
exotic, and beautiful at the same time. Stan Lee knew many, many years
ago that it was the flaws in his super heroes within the Marvel
universe that made them so interesting. The same holds true for
characters within a video game. It's the flaws within them and the dark
recesses of their souls that make them compelling.
BioWare is a company that not only recognizes the importance of drawing
in new potential customers by creating a game of extraordinary spirit
and depth, but also understands that the devoted base of long time fans
they've garnered over the last decade have now grown into aging adults
that are no longer content with the candy coated fantasy stories we
enjoyed in our youth. We've grown past the point of being content with
being told, "You're a knight in shining armor, so go save Princess
Helpless from the evil, mean dragon." Back in the day, we played those
games and were thrilled to do so, because that was the best we had.
Technology hadn’t yet reached a point where truly intricate
and dynamic stories could be portrayed successfully. Those days of
simplistic acceptance are long over.
It's said that art imitates life, and with the coming of style="font-style: italic;">Dragon Age:
Origins (and Mass
Effect before it), so can a video game. The myriad
choices you'll be forced to face will rarely be those of the black and
white variety we've grown so weary of in the past. Decisions will be
far reaching and just as so often is the case in real life, the
consequences of those choices will not become clear until much later.
It's this kind of depth within the game that will not only keep it from
being reviled by the masses (except for those darling href="http://kotaku.com/348187/ea-calls-fox-out-on-insulting-mass-effect-inaccuracies"
experts at FOX), but will finally answer the desperate need
more mature RPG setting.
As Dragon Age: Origins
Executive Producer, Mark Darrah recently
commented in our target="_blank">Forever
Fantasy: The Philosophy Behind Dragon Age:
Origins article, BioWare is
not a company that follows the trend of the day. They don’t
need to wait on another company to test the waters first before
pursuing an idea of their own. Even so, the massive success of The
Witcher is more proof that the world is not only ready, but clamoring
for a darker and more "realistic" approach to the fantasy games we
For years, BioWare has been giving us outstanding games that push the
limits and they’ve done it on their own terms, with no
apologies. With the release of Dragon
Age: Origins just around the
corner, they’re set to push us (and the RPG genre) yet again.
Do I think BioWare has made a potential mistake with their latest
endeavor by straying from the
tried and true path of Happyland fantasy? Not at all. In fact, I think
it's about damned time.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Dragon Age: Origins Game Page.