Test your morality in a digital world

By Maddie Gillespie, Senior Staff Writer

When considering video games, it may be that epic legends, fabled heroes, experienced war veterans, dizzying puzzles and mythical beasts come to mind. All of these elements are present within the game of “Dragon Age: Origins” and so endeared by players that “Dragon Age” has become one of the most popular games for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3). But the true draw of this game is its ability to grant players the chance to either become the greatest heroes of all or to become the most dastardly criminal in the land.

Throughout the course of the main game, players encounter numerous opportunities to be “good” or “bad.” Such encounters typically arise during conversation with another character. A conversation may not seem like it has any importance when first interacting with another character, but saying one sentence over another could potentially gain you a powerful ally, a disinterested rebuff or even a formidable enemy.

However, no matter what path a player chooses to follow, “good” or “evil,” there are consequences for nearly every action and conversation. If a player wants only to be “good” towards others in the game, such as sparing the lives of criminals that are already beaten, these criminals will most likely make a later appearance in the game. If a player wants to pursue the “bad” side of “Dragon Age,” such as poisoning the ashes of a sacred deity, then prepare for the extreme hatred of other in-game characters.

It is in this wide breadth of choices that “Dragon Age” mirrors the real world. Each and every action that a player performs achieves an impact on the game’s world. On top of this, “Dragon Age” players may play the game with up to four other “party” characters at a time that a player can also control, but players must keep these other members agreeable enough to stay with the player.

Each of these “party” characters comes equipped with strong ideas and understandings of their own. The character Sten would think it appropriate to brutally conquer another race, while the character of Wynne would be appalled at such a thought. The complexity of these party characters is what can drive a player to be “good” or “evil” by either befriending or alienating the eight available party characters.

Although they pale in comparison to actual people, the party characters of “Dragon Age” offer feedback on the major decisions a player chooses. In a dramatic sense, real life quandaries such as who to help, hate, love, redeem or destroy are the ultimate backbone of “Dragon Age: Origins.” But no matter what path a player finally undertakes, a new one is always available with the proper empty space available on your game console’s hard drive.

The mabari serves as the player's loyal hound. Careful though, he bites. Photos courtesy of http://dragonage.bioware.com/dao

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