DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS is a great game. There's no denying that, unless you're some contrarian internet jerk (and here in the land of newsprint, we don't go for those kinds of shenanigans).

The truth is that developer BioWare does these kinds of sword 'n' sorcery, Tolkienesque roleplaying epics better than anyone, and Origins combines an epic fantasy tale with relatively simple, entertaining gameplay.

But the game's also a prime example of a gimmick going from interesting to really damn distracting in the span of half an hour. Every time you enter combat in Origins, you really ought to wear a raincoat. If your characters are anywhere near an enemy who happens to die during the battle, his blood will wind up forming a Jackson Pollock painting all over their clothing, arms, legs, and face—a neat trick the first couple times you wade through a pitched melee, but eventually, you'll tire of controlling a group of people who all look like they just barely survived a Gwar concert.

Don't get me wrong—I do really like the game. I'm fully absorbed into the dark tale of demons overrunning a land that would otherwise be massively divided by issues like racial prejudice and ongoing slavery, but every time I see my Dalish (read: Elven) Rogue covered in enough blood to make Sissy Spacek pitch a telekinetic fit, it completely takes me out of the story.

I can deal with the idea that everyone in every fantasy world ever created has a charming British accent, and that large pieces of Origins' character-creation system are lifted wholesale from Dungeons & Dragons, but too-copious, omnipresent blood splatter really gets me.

Maybe your bloodlust or tolerance for the color red will let you see past that quirk to the epic roleplaying title beneath. If so, you'll enjoy it: Origins ranks above Mass Effect and right below Baldur's Gate II on BioWare's all-time best games list.

As for me, I still can't get over all those damn red dots.