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Dragon’s Dogma (Xbox 360) Review

June 11, 2012 | Posted by Mark Salmela

Title: Dragon’s Dogma
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Rated: M for Mature

Dragon’s Dogma is Capcom’s big fantasy RPG set out to compete with the likes of Skyrim and Dark Souls. Dragon’s Dogma manages to borrow a lot of elements from the likes of Skyrim, Dark Souls, Monster Hunter, and even MMO’s while not feeling like a complete rip-off. Dragon’s Dogma sports a unique story with interesting gameplay elements.

Looking at the comparisons to other games, Dragon’s Dogma’s character classes are best compared to Dark Souls. In Dragon’s Dogma you start off by picking between a mage, ranger, or fighter, but you’re free to customize your character and progress as you choose throughout the game. If you want to be a mage but use your magic to attack from a far, it’s very easy to hone your skills to your liking and make your own sort of hybrid mage archer class or assassin fighter who attacks from a far like a ranger but can be deadly at close range. Unlike Dark Souls, and more similar to Skyrim your character levels up passively by fighting in combat, so you don’t have to worry about constantly micromanaging your character like Dark Souls. Each character class does have its own special ability, such as fighters being able to survival falls from larger heights and mages being able to temporarily levitate.

One of Dragon’s Dogma’s best strong suites is the combat. Unlike certain games where it can feel like you’re swinging at air, you have a sense of connection and weight when you strike something with your sword in Dragon’s Dogma. While there’s a lot of repetition in the enemies you fight the boss battles are very epic, with large scale bosses that have multiple forms to defeat before the encounter is over. In a time where boss battles can feel tacked on or feel forced it’s nice to see a game that has meaningful and more importantly memorable boss battles.

Another feature of Dragon’s Dogma that manages to make it stands out is the use of “pawns”. In Dragon’s Dogma you have 3 party members that assist you in your journey, and you can change out 2 of the 3 party members at will with various other characters that have different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. These pawns that you can hire and fire at will are actually the customized characters of other players that you can bring into your game. It’s a good customization skill that can keep your party from getting stale. As for the AI of these pawns, they aren’t useless by any means but they won’t do your job for you. You’re going to need the aid of your pawns in battle, but you can’t rely on them to do all the work for you.

The story of Dragon’s Dogma starts out so well, and then is basically abandoned for the majority of the game. You play as the Arisen, the chosen one sent to rid the world of an ancient dragon who has reappeared into the world. In one of the opening cutscenes your character tries to take on the ancient dragon, only to be killed, and have your heart ripped out by the ancient dragon and eaten. So you’re not only trying to save the world, but save your own soul and get your heart back. It’s an interesting tale, but unfortunately the majority of the game is made up of random quests until the story is finally revisited around the last handful of hours. Also, everyone in Dragon’s Dogma speaks in the faux olde-English, filled with everyone saying “ye” and “aught”. It’s a very mixed bag. Some might say it helps with the immersion, but on the other hand it starts to get really annoying. They should have taken a route similar to Game of Thrones where they spoke some old English with “mah lady”, but didn’t beat you over the head with it.

One of the big problems with Dragon’s Dogma is the quest system. Most of the quests in Dragon’s Dogma are very repetitive and uninspired. Most of the game’s towns are very shallow, with hardly any people in them. Also, most of the wilderness is filled with your standard fantasy RPG enemies such as orcs, wolves, and trolls. The actual quests themselves often have your party going down the exact same paths that you’ve traveled many times, doing the same sort of quests over and over again. Even though the world of Dragon’s Dogma is large, you’ll spend a lot of time backtracking through the same areas, which gets annoying and only makes boring quests even worse.

Another issue I have with Dragon’s Dogma is how the game can be so unforgiving at times, yet tries to help you way too much in others. You’ll encounter areas filled with enemies ready to kick your ass and cause you to lose almost an hour of progress, yet in other aspects the game tries to hold your hand. For example your pawns never seem to shut up about the most obvious of things. Hearing one of your pawns say “It’s weak to fire” is completely useless and annoying when it’s talking about the same goblin you’ve killed a hundred times over the past 5 hours. You’re already well aware the goblin is weak to fire, mainly because it said the same thing the other hundred times you fought it. The game is trying to inject personality and make your companions seem human by saying things like “What a large tree” in the middle of a forest, but then you realize it says it every time you walk by that specific tree and it makes your pawns feel completely robotic.

The final issue with Dragon’s Dogma is the large amount of graphical issues and various bugs in the game. There’s no chance you’ll complete a play through of Dragon’s Dogma without encountering at least a handful of issues. Clipping is everywhere in this game, and don’t be surprised if you not only clip into various enemies, but you become stuck in their geometry as well. Framerate issues are common in areas with lots of enemies or lots of things going on, and some enemies won’t even pop-into the game at all. There was one moment in particular where out of the blue all the pawns ran off and started hacking at the air, only for an enemy to pop in a full 30 seconds later after it died and nearly killed one of the pawns.

Pros

- Great combat system
- Passive leveling up system that removes the micromanagement
- Epic boss battles
- The “pawn” companion system is fun and unique
- Lots of surprises in the main quest

Cons

- Repetitive enemy types
- Boring quests
- The story is largely abandoned for the majority of the game
- Lots of graphical issues and glitches
- The dialogue is annoying

The 411


Yeah, I can take that thing.

Dragon’s Dogma had the potential to be an epic RPG, but is plagued by issues. The world of Dragon’s Dogma is large and vast. The story starts off Epic and makes you want to play the game. The combat is fluid, and the pawn system is great. But it’s issues such as the sporadic framerate, glitches, repetitive enemies, and boring side quests that keep Dragon’s Dogma from reaching its full potential. If you’re a big fan of real-time, open-world action RPGs Dragon’s Dogma is worth a look, but it’s nowhere near as good as some of the epic RPGs that came out last fall.

Graphics6.0The world is huge, but character models look bad and the scenery is hit or miss. The framerate is also inconsistent. 
Gameplay8.0The pawn system is a lot of fun and the combat is great, it’s just too bad the quests couldn’t be more imaginative. 
Sound6.0The Japanese guitar tearing up the title screen will catch you off guard, but it’s quickly replaced with “Generic Fantasy Orchestral Music Soundtrack Number 2”. It’s completely forgettable. Also, the voiceovers can get annoying. 
Lasting Appeal8.5Dragon’s Dogma will take dozens of hours to complete, and there’s enough variety between the classes to make them worth exploring. 
Fun Factor 7.0There was the potential to be a great RPG, but it’s severely hurt by glitches, repetition, and boring quests. 
Overall7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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Mark Salmela

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