On Tuesday we posted my review of Dragon Age: Origins for the PlayStation 3. Now I've moved on to the PC version of the game, and the difference is night and day.
I have a relatively modest gaming computer, all things considered. It's got one of the first AMD Phenom processors in it from a few years back, 2GB of RAM, and a ATI Radeon 3850HD card in it. Not too powerful by today's standards, but still a ways out from obsolescence. While installing Dragon Age: Origins yesterday I envisioned a game that was slightly less stuttery than the PlayStation 3 version I had spent several days playing previously. I figured I would start it up, create a character, wander about a bit, and then maybe go to bed. Four hours later I was exhausted, but still reluctant to part from the much sharper, much prettier game I discovered.
Even once I maxed out the graphic settings in the game, the frame rate was still extremely smooth compared to the PlayStation 3 version, and large battles came to life in a whole new way, with a clarity the console version definitely lacked.
So the PC definitely has a leg up on the console version aesthetically. How about functionally?
The PC interface is a world apart from the console version, and if you've playing any massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game, it will be instantly familiar. The pair of three swappable shortcuts in the bottom right corner of the console version is replaced with a standard hot bar, where powers, stances, and skills can be slotted just as they are in countless MMO titles. The select button menu is nowhere to be seen, with the PC version instead featuring a row of buttons at the top of the screen, allowing quick access to inventory, your journal, character stats, and the like.
I wouldn't say the interface differences are better or worse. It all depends on how you are used to playing. As an avid MMO player, I found the PC version easier to navigate, though your results may vary.
As Totilo mentioned previously, the PC version of Dragon Age allows players to scroll backwards into an overhead, Baldur's Gate-like camera, presenting a much more tactical view of the map you are on, as well as adding a bit of extra familiarity for the PC gamer crowd. I haven't used it much, but I do appreciate the option. BioWare has also included the option for mouse-click movement, but I despise clicking to move with a passion that glows hotter than a thousand suns, so it isn't really a plus.
The PC version is also superior in the way it connects to the BioWare Community Website. As detailed by Totilo in his article on the social features of the game, the PC version automatically takes screenshots at key moments in the game, uploading some automatically while letting the player choose from addition shots to share with the community.
Dragon Age: Origins on the PC isn't without its faults though. There is no auto-level option for PC players, so you are going to have to manually update each of your characters as you progress. The inventory has also been streamlined a little, with potions, gifts, and miscellaneous items all lumped under one heading. It's slightly more confusing, but since you should be relatively close to your computer screen as opposed to your couch, it's workable.
Update: We have found the PC auto-level. Thanks guys!
After spending time with both versions of the game, I don't necessarily regret playing through the PS3 version first. I still had a damn good time playing. It's just now that I've seen how the game runs on the PC, I long to see the events of my first character unfolding with the clarity of that one.
Given a choice, definitely go for the PC. It looks better, runs smoother, and it's generally $10 cheaper as well.