First of all, the goods:
The platform: PC.
I want to preface this by saying I love Jim Sterling. But in this one particular instance, when he reviewed DA:O, he complained about things that were actual SETTINGS (in case and point, just to name one, he could never find quest waypoints. There's an app for that. I mean, setting.)
I bought this for PC because I wanted the isometric view, and did not want the toned-down difficulty. Plus I wanted to be able to access the mod community.
Ok, so I'm officially 62 hours in. If I had to guess, I'd say I'm 80% through the main quest. I'm running out of places to go besides Denerim, but without spoilers, I will say that the Ogrimmar (dwarven city) portion is quite extensive. Also, I found a bug. There is a apparently a memory leak in the program, so if you run it for a very long time, the load times begin to approach 4 minutes. The solution? Save your game, exit out of the program and relaunch. Pretty simple.
I am still enthralled with the story, which is pretty amazing because it IS pretty standard tolkien-esque fare. I think my only real complaint is that I have my core party down (I use Allistaire, Morrigan, myself and another mage.) and with that said... I don't like it when I need to change! I have close to...8 party members and I only use 3 of them nonstop. But I also think that could be a personal thing.
The combat system is flexible enough to allow you to play how you like. Me? I'm a micromanaging bitch. You! Go there and stay the FUCK there! You! move over here and cast cone of cold. You! Sneak around behind those bitches and backstab them until their backs look like an old Tom and Jerry Cartoon, and that darkspawn just drank a pail of water. Only blood.
Blood spatter is... well, it's unintentionally funny; especially when you're trying to have a conversation with a noble and someone's spleen is stuck in your hair.
They keep finding the right mix of tactical combat vs. story for me; it doesn't hurt that there are over a million lines of text to read; and trust me when I say I have read every single codex entry that I have found. Plus it doesn't hurt that you get xp for finding them; but the reading is completely optional. I wouldn't trade it for anything; I really think I have a pretty good feel for 'the world' as it is, because of it.
Re: The DLC:.
Stone Prisoner: It took me an hour-ish to get through, it was an amusing little side-quest. As for the character you receive, he's middle of the road ok to good at best. Once you've played through the fade sequence (in the main game), you'll get all the things you liked about it in an NPC, but toned down. They also have an amusing story about his size, so that's kind of funny. The voice-over work is again, really good, and not at all what I was expecting. (A pissy golem, who wouldathunk it?)
Blood Dragon Armor - I'm level 15 with most of my characters; and I think my tank (Allistaire) has been using this for maybe... 7 levels now? Delicious. It also doesn't hurt that if you has the gold, you can buy multiple copies of it. Also, it will apparently transfer over to Mass Effect 2. Interesting. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it LOOKS BADASS.
Warden's Keep - buy this, and do it immediately. It'll take you probably a good couple of hours if you're dedicating time to it, but the reward is a never-ending chest that you can store infinite things in. Should it have been in the normal game? Meh. It is what it is. And it's crunchy and delicious; really well done. It also has non-spoilery a couple things you can't get anywhere else in the game. Just be sure to be thorough, however, because once you've completed the quest, you cannot return to the inside of the area. Also, when you get to 'the choice' in this (again, non-spoilery), I'd actually tell you to take the righteous choice. I took the mercy choice, and I have nothing to show for it. It would seem better to travel the road I did not (I'm a softy!.. except when it comes to demons. Then I lie to their face, and then kill them. I'm a double-dealing-dousche-to-demons.
Is this Duncan in a rare bit of downtime, or Yoj1mb0 sprinting to buy another fighting game?
Return to Ostragar - This one comes out at the end of the month of December; and I have to truly wonder how many people will really be done with the game by then (besides me). But at $5 and you get to fight in that massive battle... it's an interesting spin on DLC; as usually DLC takes you places *outside* the preexisting game, and here you get to revisit a key moment.
Final Verdict: Don't listen to Jim (this once). If you are a fan of RPGs, even if you're a diehard JRPG fan, this WACWGTFOOCWAASDRPG* will knock your socks off. Well worth the money spent.
I give it five out of five creepy King3bvo heads.
*(Western Action Combat We're Getting The Fuck Out of Control With Acronyms and Specialization Designation Role Playing Game)
that is all.