Dragon’s Dogma Review
The Good:Epic adventure with legendary mythical creatures
The Bad:Really could have done with co-op multiplayer
STORY You are a simple fisherman from the village of Cassardis; you are going about your everyday business when suddenly a dragon strikes and wreaks havoc upon your village. Everyone flees in fear of this great dragon, apart from yourself who foolishly takes it upon yourself to attack the dragon. Obviously being over powered by [...]
You are a simple fisherman from the village of Cassardis; you are going about your everyday business when suddenly a dragon strikes and wreaks havoc upon your village. Everyone flees in fear of this great dragon, apart from yourself who foolishly takes it upon yourself to attack the dragon. Obviously being over powered by this great beast and facing your certain death, the dragon then rips and eats your heart from your chest, before flying off into the sunset leaving you for dead. By some unknown miracle, you survive and rise to life from certain death, being reborn as a man now known as Arisen. You feel a certain unknown destiny awaits you, but the only way you will find your true heroes path is to hunt down and kill the dragon that attacked your village and ripped out your heart.
When Dragon’s Dogma was first announced almost two years ago, I was intrigued by the mythology and potential story of the game. So back in September 2011 when I purchased my ticket for the new games convention known as Gamefest, I was over the moon to hear that Dragon’s Dogma was to be one the many games that would be playable at this event. So, with my enthusiasm taking over, I couldn’t wait to head to the Capcom stand to play the Dragon’s Dogma playable demo, but that enthusiasm was soon killed by not only the game’s laggy gameplay, but the poor pixelated visuals. My desire for the game had been quickly crushed at Gamefest. Not long after the event, Capcom announced the old gaming cliché of delaying a game to improve its features before it was to be released. As in most cases when these announcements are made, it’s usually to delay a game so that it doesn’t have to compete with other games during a busy release window, but on some rare occasions, delays are made to improve a game’s quality.
Seven or eight months had passed since Gamefest and a new Dragon’s Dogma demo was released on the Xbox 360 Marketplace (featuring the same playable levels as the Gamefest demo). I was naturally unoptimistic, but I thought, “what the hell, I’ll give the demo a go and maybe it might surprise me.” At this point, I became overjoyed as not only did Dragon’s Dogma’s gameplay improve since the Gamefest demo, but there was a noticeable improvement in the game’s visuals. My inner gaming geek was happy once again and I could not wait to get my pre-order in at my local video game store for my copy of Dragon’s Dogma.
With that being said, let’s move on to the full retail version. From the opening stages of Dragon’s Dogma, it was clear to see that this was to be an epic game and the visuals were set to play a massive role in the game’s future success. Skipping the game’s prologue and jumping straight into the games first season chapter of the story, you are greeted with the opening scene of a huge dragon attacking a small local fishing village (where you first meet your playable character). There were a couple of occasions when my character nearly met his death as I came to a standstill to marvel at the attention to detail of the gargantuan dragon: this dragon would certainly look the part in a certain Bethesda game. But not everything is clear sailing in the visuals department of Dragon’s Dogma, character lip sync is, at times, off and the character mannerisms are a little static. The game does suffer from a fair amount of texture pop-ups and I swear that some of the hair styles are straight from the Lego games. All said and done, with the improvements made from the Gamefest demo and considering the huge scale of the game, I think it’s only fair that we cut it a little bit of slack. For the most part, Dragon’s Dogma stands up well, despite some dodgy looking and and texture pop-ups.
As much as I want to praise Dragon’s Dogma, perhaps the weakest link comes in the form of the sounds department. From the moment your enter the game’s main menu, you are treated to some very random, fast paced music that only the Japanese know how to do. If you’ve ever played any of the Dynasty Warriors games, you should instantly now where I’m coming from, it doesn’t exactly set the tone of the game. Strangely enough, and thankfully, I have not come across this kind of music in-game, though, as I progress further into the game, this may change. The in-game soundtrack that I have come across so far has helped set the tone well, especially when participating in one of the many epic boss fights.
One of the key parts to any successful AAA title is not only Gameplay, Graphics, the Soundtrack, but also quality voice acting is integral part of any games successful elements. Though Dragon’s Dogma’s quality of voice acting won’t be winning any BAFTA’s any time soon, it still does a reasonable job in aiding the storytelling of the game, it’s just that nothing really stands out, unlike another a competitor in its gaming genre, the critically acclaimed Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition. I don’t always like to make comparisons with other games, but after playing the Witcher 2 so recently, it only seems natural to do so. But this doesn’t take away anything from the fact, that Dragon’s Dogma has an epic story to tell, but yet has that cheesy charm that only the Japanese know how to deliver.
At quick glance you might be forgiven in thinking that Dragon’s Dogma would be your typical Capcom Hack ‘n’ Slash adventure, I was certainly one of those people, but you soon find out that Dragons Dogma is going to be a nice blend of Hack ‘n’ Slash/RPG adventure goodness. Once you complete the prologue stage, you enter your character customisation screen where you have plenty of options to have your main man or women looking how you want them to. Once you have decided the look of your character, like many other RPG games, you have the choice of character classes. This option is not as in depth as the mighty Elder Scrolls games, as you only have the choice of three classes. The choices of classes are; Mage (wizard/witch), Fighter (badass melee) and a Strider (which is a fancy name for an archer).
When you have chosen your characteristics and look, you are now ready to journey on into your adventure. The core mechanic of Dragon’s Dogma is Hack ‘n’ Slash, but with the RPG adventure and XP levelling up system. XP, as you have probably guessed, is what you use to improve your character’s skills, this can be used towards the usual suspects such as strength, speed, combat skill and wizardry. The XP can be earned by either killing enemies (the amount of XP you earn will depend on the size and difficulty of the enemy) or, of course, by completing both main and side quests.
One of Capcoms main selling points for Dragon’s Dogma comes in the form of the game’s “Pawns” (stop it! I know what you’re thinking!). You will not be venturing alone during Dragon’s Dogma these Pawns will be the other three participating members of your team of four. The best way I can explain the Pawn system is that it’s an advanced form of Non-Playable Character AI that will aid you on your quest by offering you hints and strategies, picking up items and, most importantly, aiding you in defeating enemies. In some cases with the larger and more difficult enemies they will actually distract them for you, so that you can swoop in with a vital or fatal blow.
I know what you’re thinking, that just sounds like normal everyday gaming AI, but there’s a big twist and very helpful feature of the Pawn system. You can actually download Pawns belonging to your friends and other members of the online community, which will aide you in your game, offering an even greater form of AI. As great as this all sounds and as helpful as it is to download other people’s Pawns, I can’t help but think that Capcom have missed a trick by not giving you the added option of online co-op. Maybe if there’s a sequel to Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom may consider this. Only time will tell.
Dragon’s Dogma is a huge game and by finishing the side quests, main quests and general exploring, you can easy total up 30+ hours with one play through. Adding to all this, you have three unique character classes that will change your approach to each game, but you also have multiple endings. There’s not only plenty to keep you going, but there’s also enough here to encourage you to come back for more and more. Dragon’s Dogma is a game full of depth and offers a great amount of replay value, something that cannot be said for every game.
Dragon’s Dogma is something different from the usual Capcom genre and it also adds something new to the RPG Adventure genre. From the early demos I was put off by the game in all honesty, but thankfully that all changed when I played the new demo from the Xbox 360 Marketplace. When I made the purchase of the full game, I was rewarded with a rich, immersive and fulfilling game. If you are a fan of RPG adventure, Dragon’s Dogma may just be for you. If you’re on the fence with Dragon’s Dogma or are unsure, head over to the Marketplace and give the demo a go, it’s free and you never know, you might be surprised. Also, let’s not forget Capcoms genius marketing move to convince those sitting on the fence (myself included) to make the plunge and purchase the full game, by including an early access demo to one of Capcoms favourite sons; Resident Evil 6 accessible on the 3rd July 2012.
Dragon’s Dogma Review,