Dragon Age: Origins - Return to Ostagar Review

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Graphics: 8.5
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 8.5
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 8.5
Review by Mark Steighner
Return to Ostagar is the third, and latest, bit of downloadable content for BioWare's epic action/RPG Dragon Age: Origins. For around five bucks, it provides the player with a couple of hours of stand-alone content, a lot of familiar action, and some sweet loot. It also closes the book on one of the main story's unfinished chapters.

As the title suggests, Return to Ostagar brings the player and party back to where the story begins, to find out just what happened to the besieged fortress and King Calain after they were overrun by the Darkspawn. Now just a snowy, haunted ruin, Ostagar is haven to hordes of creatures dark and menacing, and holds a shocking, end-scene secret.

While Return to Ostagar can be played any time, it is probably best enjoyed sometime before finishing the main game and its final battle. Mid or high-level players will slice and dice their way through the new campaign without much trouble at all, as they explore the previously unseen dungeons and tunnels below the stone keep.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with last November's Dragon Age: Origins, it's one of BioWare's strongest efforts in the sword and sorcery RPG genre. A spiritual successor to the Baldur's Gate series and heavily influenced by the fiction of George R.R. Martin, Dragon Age is an interactive fiction masterwork, with a great story and supporting cast, outstanding writing, and tight, enjoyable combat and controls. Though it doesn't match the character choice complexity of Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age is a lengthy and richly rewarding experience and is one of BioWare's best releases.

Two optional adventures were already available as DLC when the game shipped (and were included in special edition packages), which created at least a little bit of ill will amongst players who thought all content should have been available in the retail release. BioWare has promised a steady stream of DLC for Dragon Age, including some significant, expansion-like adventures.

As an entire package, Dragon Age is a visually sumptuous game, with detailed, artistically varied environments, characters, and creatures; thus, as an add-on, Return to Ostagar does nothing to either enhance or detract from the main installment. Except for a few, interesting variations, the monsters, undead, and critters you encounter in the new mission have been met in some form before, and the dungeons look familiar. Essentially, you could say Return to Ostagar suffers from a lack of content variety in relation to the parent game. Sound, music, and voice acting, on the other hand, continue to be stand-out elements.

When all is said and done, a playthrough of Return to Ostagar moves quickly with plenty of enemies to dispatch. Though it's a short ride, it's a sweet one that is a welcome reason to pick the game up again if you've finished the main story, and is certainly worth the money. Though, if you're still somewhere in the middle of the tale, even better: Return to Ostagar will also help to set up the rest of your journey through Dragon Age.

How many times have you completed one of 2009's biggest releases? Or, have you yet to visit Ostagar for the first time? Feel free to Tweet us your character's(') level(s) @Gamers_Hell