PS4 Game ReviewsDragon Age: Inquisition Review

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Review

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Graphics:

 

8.9

Gameplay:

 

9.8

Sound:

 

9.4

Control:

 

9.7

Replay Value:

 

10.0

Online Gameplay:

 

8.0

Overall Rating:       9.5

 

 

Publisher:

EA

Developer:

BioWare

Number Of Players:

1-4

Genre:

RPG

Release Date:

November 18, 2014

The Hinterlands beckon. But in the back of your mind, you might be remembering BioWare’s slight misstep with Dragon Age II; you might wonder if the developer has continued down an unappealing path. At the same time, a little voice cries out with undying hope and optimism: “Maybe it’s the true successor to Dragon Age: Origins!” Well, in a year that hasn’t quite delivered the monstrous “next-gen” jaw-dropping experiences, you might be reluctant to embrace that hope. Ah, but the year isn’t quite over yet and this time, BioWare has made good on its promises.

To be clear, Dragon Age has never really busted down graphical barriers. The games have always looked good but they’re not known for being visual tour de forces. The same holds true here. Inquisition takes advantage of the extra power offered in the new consoles but it still won’t paralyze you with awe and admiration. Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely no comparison to either Origins or DAII but now we’re seeing hugely ambitious presentations like Assassin’s Creed Unity and beautifully honed, big-budget greatness in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

As such, in direct comparison to other current next-gen titles, the new Dragon Age doesn’t claim the graphics crown. What it does do, however, is provide the player with a sweeping, epic, wildly immersive atmosphere that epitomizes the term “fantasy.” When one thinks of a fantasy role-playing game ala “Dungeons and Dragons,” this is precisely what one envisions: Gorgeous vistas, hardy little towns, forests rife with wildlife and even grandeur, dank, intimidating caverns, and wonderfully detailed creatures, both mythical and otherwise. The frame rate isn’t perfect and neither are the textures, and the cut-scenes aren’t quite up to snuff from a new-era standpoint.

Those are hardly deal-breakers, though. As for the sound, the balancing isn’t flawless and surrounding ambient noises can occasionally drown out character voices. But a majestic score will accompany your every step and there are some great acting performances as well. It’s all the more impressive considering the sheer amount of dialogue; with so many characters, choices, and situations, it’s amazing that just about every line is delivered confidently and professionally. The effects have been updated as well and although they can take center-stage, they often meld beautifully with that soundtrack, which matches the ebb and flow of exploration and combat. Audio-wise, it's every inch the epic RPG, despite a few drawbacks.

But really, if you’re blissfully absorbed, why sweat the small stuff? I’ll elaborate on that philosophy in my upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity review but for now, let’s explain why Dragon Age: Inquisition is in line for multiple Game of the Year honors from numerous sources. This is a wonderfully huge, sprawling adventure within the intriguing world of Thedas. It features all the hefty role-playing depth for which fans of the genre pine, it offers all the exploration we missed in the previous iteration, it gives us a shifting, intriguing, well-written storyline, and the end result is a gargantuan achievement.

At the start, even though you can’t import previous game saves, you can take advantage of the extremely helpful Dragon Age Keep. Log in with your Origin account and customize the world as you see fit. The new adventure will then, in some small part, mold itself to your previous actions. Then, when you’re ready, you can select your character. Yeah, don’t worry; no more pre-set protagonist and allies who can only equip a suite of armor and nothing else. You can choose your character’s gender, race and class and your selections will also have a definite impact on how the plot unfolds. Don’t forget that you forge relationships in this game, and those relationships can change drastically.

When your exciting quest begins, the world is obviously on the brink of some terrible disaster. Strange rifts to another, much darker world, have opened, and you have to find a way to close these rifts. If you don’t, all manner of nasty things will pour through them, casting the surrounding lands into horror and fear. The first hour or so is basically a tutorial, during which time you’ll be introduced to combat. There’s the return of the Tactical View, a great option for the micromanagers out there, and you quickly realize that in fact, this is a fully realized RPG. There are similarities to previous entries but really, Inquisition simply embraces the strengths of both Origins and Dragon Age II.

Combat plays out in real-time but you can pause whenever you wish to take a breath and reevaluate. You can issue new orders to your allies, for instance, or come up with an entirely new strategy if your current approach isn’t working. When outside battle, each character has his or her own mini-menu, where you can equip, learn skills, and adjust the commands (as AI, the characters will abide by these pre-set commands). The good news is that the AI works very well; they do exactly what they’re supposed to do, at precisely the time they’re supposed to do it. If you’re using a mage, like me, you want someone like Cassandra protecting you in battle.

All told, there are nine potential companions to use throughout your quest, and who you choose depends on your play style. If you chose the wily rogue, you’ll want to surround yourself with some up-close-and-personal fighters and maybe a mage or archer. Now, the camera can be a very minor issue at times, but the game boasts excellent design and the areas are much more open than before. And besides, if the camera betrays you for a moment, you can simply pause – or open up the Tactical View – and get your bearings. My only other complaint is that depending on your surroundings, the enemies and your allies can be difficult to spot at times.

Aside from that, combat works exactly as it should. It’s paced well, your allies are appropriately effective, and the difficulty curve is just about right. The game encourages you to pay close attention to your character advancement and experiment with new skills; not just with the protagonist, but with all party members. You can switch between characters on the fly during battle and for particularly challenging encounters, that Tactical View is a perfect alternative. You can take hold of every aspect of the battle flow and overall, there’s unprecedented control. And behind it all is a branching, involving story loaded with social and political intrigue.

In the spotlight is The Orlesian Empire and “the game,” which is essentially the sociopolitical landscape. Fans of the series have heard of Orlais but now it’s a major focal point, as the game bravely tackles various topics of class, race, and economics. Furthermore, because each of your comrades have different ideas as to how to better save the land and serve the people, there’s constant conflict. You learn that you can’t possibly appease everyone, and your decision to either take the diplomatic approach or attack with impunity won’t be well accepted by all. This gives the game a distinct personality that role-playing aficionados will just adore.

The Inquisition is supposed to be a force for good but as you might expect, there are dissenters. Either way, your decision can have long-lasting implications that are felt throughout the game. As you never know which decision might have the biggest impact, you’re always carefully considering each available option. You reap what you sow in this game, even if you can’t predict the harvest. This lends the experience a very personal feel; your own ideals and morals become reflected in the ever-evolving plot. This adds another level and dimension to the immersion factor, which is already sky-high. In other words, it’s the proper advancement of the traditional role-playing genre.

It’s not all roses, though. For instance, I’m not the biggest fan of the removal of healing spells and the addition of Guard seems somewhat clunky. Guarding prevents health damage for a while and mages also have barrier skills, which provide fighters with yet another layer of protection. It’s not that this system doesn’t work, it’s just that it feels a little overly complex. Healing spells worked just fine in the past, although I admit that in some cases in the past, we spent far too much time healing as opposed to attacking. Then there’s the addition of co-op multiplayer, which is pretty limited. Four players can battle through three locations and there are different objectives for each. It just feels awfully light when compared with the goliath campaign.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is the role-playing game you’ve wanted for years. You glimpsed the future and now, with a few minor exceptions, that vision has been fully realized. The odd part about this is that it’s not a staggering work of genius; it’s not a game that will resound in the annals of time forever and ever. One could argue that it’s simply what a “next-gen” RPG should be like. Sure, maybe that’s accurate. But considering the amount of time and effort that went into achieving such a goal, we need to stand up and applaud. Never has “it just does it right” been a more apt or more unsatisfying description.

The Good: Large, diverse landscape and wonderful atmosphere. Excellent soundtrack and great voice acting. Balanced, challenging combat. Fantastic lore and a shifting story that reflects your decisions. Effective, reliable AI. A gigantic amount of content. Involving and even emotional. A complete, robust role-playing experience with all the requisite frills.

The Bad: Multiplayer isn’t all that impressive. Camera isn't perfect.

The Ugly: “‘Ugly’ is in the past. This is the future.”

11/12/2014 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System


Legacy Comment System (34 posts)


Breadlover
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 8:58:01 PM
Reply

Good review. This could actually be the first DA I buy and play! *thumbsup*

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MRSUCCESS
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 9:16:31 PM
Reply

I watched some game play footage on my Galaxy Note 4 and the game looks great. I like the depth of the choices and the story, but I don't have the time to play this with Far Cry 4 arriving at my Amazon locker next week.

This will be a title that I will probably play next summer after going through The Witcher 3, Bloodborne, MGS5 and Persona 5.

Last edited by MRSUCCESS on 11/12/2014 9:18:19 PM

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Temjin001
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 9:21:02 PM
Reply

Initially I had little interest for this one, but now with all the positive reviews I'll need to try it out for myself.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 11:01:07 PM

Make u rpg fan it will

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 12:17:17 PM

I'm the same, wasn't sure about it. Now I'm looking forward to picking this one up after I'm done with GTAV.

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PS3_Wizard
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 10:13:44 PM
Reply

Hey Ben, did it feel sort of...foreign...saying that Call of Duty: AW had great graphics? I know I never envisioned that...EVER. If COD can look THAT good, imagine what Sony can do with all their 1st party games.

*Drools*

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 11:58:35 PM

I was surprised at Advanced Warfare. I can't remember the last time a CoD was in the running for best graphics of the year. Maybe the original Modern Warfare.

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matt99
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 10:32:18 PM
Reply

Well this just made my decision between farcry and this that much harder...although I have a feeling I should finish the semester before I dig into this one.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 10:45:16 PM
Reply

I never expected anything next gen since we're tied to the last gen with this one but this review matches exactly what I'm looking for irrespective of the score. That part is just a nice bonus :)

Hail to the RPG overlords! I can't decide if I should dig in right away on tuesday or wait for the weekend. Cuz I'm gonna spend at least 2-3 hours in that character creator before anything begins.

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Beamboom
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 7:55:15 AM

lol me too, bro'. Me too.
Heck, make it a full evening... Now, rogue or mage? Rogue? No, mage! No wait a minute... Rogue. Bah, I'll be a mage!

Or rogue.

Or both. Oh man.


Last edited by Beamboom on 11/13/2014 7:56:56 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 8:26:22 AM

Red hair as usual, orrrrr something special, maybe pure white! Or black, yeah black hair. No!

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Beamboom
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 11:15:05 AM

Depends on the class! A rogue is a sneaky character. Dark is her shade. But a firework-bursting mage? Oh yesh, hello red. Or white as a witch!


Last edited by Beamboom on 11/13/2014 11:17:21 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 3:04:41 PM

I wish there was a way to save progress on the creator and continue later :)

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Nerull
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 11:12:10 PM
Reply

Nice review, I've been trying to avoid reviews on this one to avoid spoilers, but this didn't give too much away.

I'll also be annoyed by the lack of healing spells, I'm a hoarder when it comes to potions, and I wish the co-op could be local like Diablo, but all in all I don't think I'll be complaining.

I was just trying out the Dragon Age Keep. It's great that we can customize practically every choice there was. So we can see all the possible variations without having to go back through the originals again.

It'll be a tad agonizing waiting for my copy to arrive though. I would just pick it up at my local store, but they were sold out of the deluxe.

Last edited by Nerull on 11/12/2014 11:14:56 PM

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ZettaiSeigi
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 11:30:30 PM
Reply

I decided to skip AC: Unity for this game and looks like I made the right choice. Seems like this game is now the forerunner for this year's GOTY going by the glowing reviews it's getting everywhere.

I haven't played the previous Dragon Age games but I read more than enough backlash against DA2 and I'm glad to see the series return to form. Excellent work, Bioware! Here's hoping that Ubisoft take some notes from them and do the same with the inevitable AC installment next year.

Anyway, excellent review, Ben. I look forward to playing this game next week! My world state has already been set in Dragon Age Keep and just need to be imported into the game.

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kraygen
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 12:10:21 AM
Reply

Only read the good, bad, and ugly because I don't want to have the slightest inclination of a spoiler, but am loving what I read.

Yay for Dragon age being better!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 1:16:49 AM

I don't do spoilers.

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kraygen
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 4:09:49 AM

my idea of a spoiler is way beyond what most people think of, when I have super high hopes for a game, a movie, a book, whatever.

I don't even want to know a characters name, a plot, nothing.

I know you're not a spoiler reviewer, I'm just extreme anti info on this particular game.

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Beamboom
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 7:58:08 AM

I know what you are saying. I skimmed through parts of the text, cautiously, not wanting to even read the name of any characters, nor cities or regions.

Yeah, I know what you mean.

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big6
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 10:00:32 AM

I totally agree with the spoiler thing.
Hence why I HATE movie trailers these days. They pretty much give away the entire story from beginning to end in a 30 second summary!

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FAREEZ
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 1:13:51 AM
Reply

Finally a good game for this month, need to get it right now. Great reviews BTW...

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Beamboom
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 1:56:47 AM
Reply

Omg, I had goosebumps through the entire review.

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Feryx
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 5:42:01 AM
Reply

I am so ready for this. GOTY!

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Beamboom
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 6:03:27 AM

I can not see any other title this year competing. Not even Far Cry 4.

So yeah. the GOTY is here.

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smileys_007
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 5:58:04 AM
Reply

good review. I remember playing Dragon Age: Origins on my ps3 and I was halfway on the game when I got bored and didn't able to finish it. I'll probably try this game when I don't have anything left to play.

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Solid Fantasy
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 7:11:26 AM
Reply

Nice! Glad to see a great make it into the new gen. Although DA:Origins did have an 11/10 on the replay value. Guess it's going down hill now :) Really though, Arnold did the PSX review for DA:O, look it up.

And now to convince my friend to but this...

Last edited by Solid Fantasy on 11/13/2014 7:20:27 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 8:28:24 AM

it has extra multiplayer if you friend is into that.

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Solid Fantasy
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 12:50:30 PM

Yeah, that would be nice. I was leaning more towards him buying the game. Playing the crap out of it and then lending it to me. How do you think I picked up a copy of Dragon Age Origins and DA2.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 3:06:08 PM

lol, that's a strange way of procuring a game you want.

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ethird1
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 2:12:58 PM
Reply

Dragon Age? I would rather play Dragon Warrior 1 from the NES.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 3:04:54 PM

That's a good game too.

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Teddie9
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 4:19:24 PM
Reply

I haven't bought a new game in over a year. I'm so excited.

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Killa Tequilla
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 4:48:17 PM
Reply

I haven't played any Dragon Age games. I may try this one. Can anyone tell me breifly why I should get this? :D

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Beamboom
Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 6:45:59 PM

I believe the review gives you some clues. :D

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