Dragon Age: Origins

You'll spend a lot of time in covered in blood. Your characters, as one later acknowledges, engage in regular slaughter and mayhem. So you'll have to endure watching your player-created character and his party members engage in important conversations while covered in buckets of blood. It's morbid, a bit humorous, but quickly establishes the tone of this dark fantasy role playing game.

Originally released in Fall 2009 for the PC and game consoles, Bioware and EA shocked the world by announcing a Mac release of Dragon Age only months after the initial release. Released for the Mac in late December thanks to the Cider Portability Engine, Dragon Age: Origins is an epic RPG that takes as much from Bioware's other title, Mass Effect, as it does Tolkien's tomes on elves, dwarves, and men.

Sure, you'll be trying to save a world populated by dragons, shape shifters, and magicians. But the dialogue, relationships, and tone of the story are that of a gritty soap opera rather than a clear-cut battle between good and evil.

Your player-created character is customizable in appearance and personality. You'll make his or her moral choices and this will directly impact how people relate to you and the possible outcomes of the game. If you're a saint, you'll please certain party members, gaining their trust and possibly their romantic interest. If you're a self-centered jerk who kills innocents, you'll alienate those same party members while gaining the trust of more morally flexible characters.

There isn't a clear right and wrong in every situation either. In one scenario, you're faced with killing a child who is possessed by a demon, or letting his mother take his place as a sacrifice (of course, other decisions you've made will open up other possibilities--like trading the boy's soul for infernal rewards).

On my MacBook Pro 2.66GHz running Mac OS 10.6, Dragon Age was stunning. From the fire effects of enemy spells to the gush of blood from a blade, the details were beautiful and realistic. Unlike some RPGs, there isn't a major drop off between cut scenes and combat; the shadows and shading were impressive in both. There are some moments of slow-down, particularly in the bigger environments, but on the whole I was impressed with my machine's ability to handle this high-end game.