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Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition 6-Years Later Review

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Graphics:

At six years old, Dragon Age: Origins is definitely showing its age. Basically every texture and model lacks the definition of modern titles, under close inspection at least. The game uses a third-person camera that can get close, but often not too close to characters, so the age is less apparent. During some close-ups you will see just how much detail is contained in the textures and not part of a character model. Skin also does not look particularly natural due to the speckling on the textures, but again, this is something you can only notice during close-ups. However, exposed shoulders can look bad at any distance. Basically they can look very crushed and tiny, compared to the rest of the body. It is also only during close ups that you will spot seams in the character models, like at the neck line.

The environment is always noticeable and a little mixed, however. Well, it is mixed to me. I have played enough older titles recently that I can see the amount of detail in the environment is somewhat impressive, for a game of this age. Compared to modern standards, it is somewhat sparse and simple. When outside, the environmental geometries are often pretty smooth, save for the visible vertices, but not smooth in a good way. I expect more chaos to the outside, so paths just being smooth valleys between hills look off to me. Debris being along the edges of these valleys, or obvious wear patterns from travelers would be fitting. Internal environments are more or less the same, except that walls and other boundaries will intersect the floor, again in a somewhat unnatural way. Both kinds of environments also lack much in the way of dressing, such as plants and grass on the outside and stray items inside. Some of these details are integrated into the textures, but then they look very flat and smooth.

If enabled, blood can splatter onto you and those in your party. While this is a somewhat neat visual effect, the splatters do not look very natural, as they are just everywhere on a character. Also, they persist for long times, and I do not like the look of blood on my character's face while in a conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spells that imbue weapons with special elemental damage are likewise applied in a simplistic way to the weapons. Instead of just part of a weapon being iced, all of it, including the handle, will be.

Of course, this is a six-year-old title, so you cannot expect too much of the graphics and, as I said, it looks pretty good compared to some other titles of its age.

Animations are hard to find serious fault with though, save one bug I encountered. I actually encountered more than one animation bug, but only one was more than humorous. Besides that, the only issues with animations come from how they interact. Basically weapons routinely clip through objects and characters, and characters do not usually respond to being hit. Of course this is a limitation of the technology and should be forgiven, but something you may notice.

 

That bug I mentioned has to do with ogres in the Awakening expansion. When an ogre is killed by a melee character, a short animation will run of the character leaping onto the ogre's head, attacking it and causing it to fall to the ground, until a final blow is delivered. For some reason in the expansion, the character would leap in the opposite direction from the ogre. This only happened in the expansion, and only with its armored ogres. (Unfortunately the only video I have of this is low quality and lacks audio, which is why I am not including it.) Other than that, sometimes characters would persist in poses they should have left, like holding their arms up as though they are holding weapons. Also, in one instance the bear I summoned seemingly had its skeleton turned upside down and inside out. Don't worry, I have video of it, but being an outlying bug, I am keeping it on the Additional Gameplay Media page.

Most of the cinematics are rendered in-game, which is necessary as you are able to customize your character and the gear you equip is also placed on your character. Some have been pre-rendered though and, for a modern player, these will stand out as the in-game graphics will look better.

With how much storytelling there is in this title, it is worth mentioning facial animations. The only fault with them that I have noticed stems from the lack of definition to the textures and models. Basically there do not appear to be enough joints on the face to emote very realistically, but for what is there, it looks good.

Lighting is not too bad in the game, at least until you start looking at shadows, assuming there are any. Expect the lighting to fall on characters okay, but do not expect much more than that.

Fluids are somewhat limited in the game. You will encounter small ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, and be unable to interact with any of them. Light will reflect off of their disturbed surfaces well enough, but that is about it for them.

 

Fire is not particularly lively as it will just lay on objects and characters. Its appearance is not that bad though, consisting of twisted tendrils and varying shades of yellow and orange, but it does lack the depth of real fires. It also is, most definitely, pre-rendered animations being applied on top of geometries. Burning characters will completely ignore it and burning objects, like wood, will not even be scorched by it. It really serves more as a warning that you will take damage if you enter the area.

 

 

Fire storms and other vortices created by spells, can look like blurred messes of one color or another, depending on the damage type.

Time to talk performance, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

Honestly, I am not sure how much talking is needed. I had every setting maxed and the performance was perfect at 60 FPS the entire time. It would be shocking if a modern computer could not run a six-year-old game this well, assuming it was well-optimized at the time. Even with anti-aliasing turned up all the way (8x MSAA) I did see aliasing in many places, such as on armor. It was not serious aliasing, but still noticeable.

I suffered little in the way of performance bugs, although while playing the Awakening expansion, the game would randomly crash quite a bit. Also, the game in general did not like it if I Alt-Tabbed out of the window [editor's note: commonplace for Awakening.].

 

Truly the best way I can think to sum up the graphics of Dragon Age: Origins is to say that it is a six-year-old game. You cannot expect it to look all that good compared to today's standards, but there is nothing that cannot be forgiven. Everything looks right and correct, if not sharp and detailed.




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