Dragon Age: Origins Console Version Hands-OnBy Brian Leahy - Posted Jul 08, 2009
We've already previewed Dragon Age: Origins, but recently I was able to go hands-on with the Xbox 360 version of the game to find out how it looks and handles on a console.
Graphically, it doesnít look as crisp as the PC version running on a powerful rig, but it still looks great. The character models are fantastic and the spell effects are incredible. The framerate held constant even during a frantic boss fight. That brings us to the combat itself.
The control scheme and combat interface is powerful and a great start. BioWare is currently polishing the console gameplay systems, but they are off to a great start. As with the PC version, every attack you make is a button press. Thereís no auto-attack in Dragon Age: Origins. Youíll also be able to set shortcuts for six special abilities, spells, or attacks. Additionally, you'll be able to pause the action and bring up a ring selection menu that also functions as a targeting mechanism. Around the ring are your abilities, organized by category. While selecting with one stick, you can move the ring with the other. The ally or enemy in the center of the ring becomes the target for the selected ability. Itís very slick and allows you to quickly select and target your abilities and get back into the action.
BioWare has also learned a great deal from its experience with Mass Effect on the Xbox 360. The user interface, especially inventory management, is improved, but still isnít flawless. It currently takes a lot of menu navigation to get basic details about your items and there isnít a streamlined visual language for identifying standout abilities or items. By visual language, Iím referring to systems like World of Warcraft's item coloring based on its quality or making all ranged spells a certain shape or color. Simple things like that would greatly improve the game's interface.
Thankfully, my only issues with the console version of the game are with the interface and that is what BioWare is currently working on improving. The console versions were developed alongside the PC version, but this is very much a PC game. Basically, the console version is the way to go if youíre worried about your PC hardware, but I have been assured by BioWare that the minimum specs for the PC version are actually quite generous. Either way, youíre in for an incredible RPG experience from the masters at BioWare.