LOTRO's login servers were down during prime time last night, so I decided to finally fire up the new copy of Dragon's Age from my Christmas stash.
(Incidentally, they included a pair of single-use DLC codes in the retail box as a way to deter/charge pirates and used game purchasers. Installing this content on the PS3 is a bit of an ordeal - if, perhaps, less of an ordeal than the LOTRO patcher - as the console won't download while the game is actually running, making the background download feature pretty useless.)
Anyway, the game does seem impressive, but one thing that kind of jarred me out of the box was all the gameplay-affecting choices. My mage got two new spells at level one, with a dozen options (each of which leads to further upgrades down the line). It doesn't matter so much if I take a randomly generated appearance without knowing that there was some "better" option, as long as I can live with it. By contrast, presuming that there is not a respec mechanic in the game, I'm stuck with whatever spells I take. I might not be able to do the things I later discover that I want to do with the character because I lack the appropriate prerequisites and/or don't understand how good certain choices are from reading the tooltips.
Then I got into game and actually hit the trademark dialog trees. Again, the sheer volume of voice acting is impressive, and, again, scary choices. Right off the bat, I was able to talk two NPC's out of fighting me. But would the reward for beating them have been better? Will saying the wrong thing to the wrong NPC cut me off from some cool quest line or reward down the line? I don't have the time to play through this game half a dozen times (perhaps excluding the introduction scenarios) because I missed out on something really interesting by screwing up, so, if I miss it, it's probably gone.
MMORPG's rarely make players actually live with the consequences of such decisions. That can be bad in any number of ways, but the upside is less pressure while you're actually playing the game. Perhaps it's neither good nor bad, but it's certainly different.