Dragon’s Dogma | Zombiegamer Review

In short

In a year that has been brimming with quality role-playing games, comes Dragon’s Dogma and keeps with the high quality that has gone before it. Dragon’s Dogma shines in certain areas, mostly in the important gameplay department, but the lacks charm in others. With fulfilling gameplay; a great story; the usual RPG niceties; a few unique elements and a massive open-world to explore, Dragon’ Dogma easily outweighs its few weaknesses with its ample strengths.

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Distributor: SterKinekor Entertainment
For fans of: RPG, fantasy
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: Xbox 360
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.0/10

Overview

Dragon’s Dogma is an ambitious RPG adventure where players assume the role of the heroic Arisen who ultimately battles the supreme dragon. Players need to protect Arisen’s homeland and its people, and you can best do so by aligning yourself with the most adept of allies known as ‘pawns.’

 What we loved

  • Great gameplay
  • Pawn element
  • Online community options
  • Classes design
  • Character customisation options

Not so much

  • Pawn AI not always reliable
  • Lacking storyline
  • No multiple saves allowed

 

Gameplay and features

Dragon’s Dogma features three main classes which can be customised with vocation, weapon choice and skill-sets. You have the soldier of brute type classes which majors in close combat and in attack and defence. There is the archest type which uses bows and arrows to attack from a distance, and daggers or knifes for close-quarter fights. Finally there is the mage type which specialises in magic which can be used to defend and attack. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the character customisation options in every last area – from the face to the body – there are so much customisation options which allows you to truly create a unique character. In the beginning you also get to customise your primary ‘pawn’ or companion and choose their vocation. The primary pawn will be at your beckon call almost entirely through the game.

The RPG aspect is fairly standard and so any RPG fan will quickly familiarise with this aspect.  I actually found the RPG element a little shallow in certain areas. I was particularly disappointed that I could not level-up the character in areas or strengths as I chose to, the levelling-up is done automatically. You can collect items as normal with the genre and use them to create items, combine them with other items to create unique items or use some items to enhance weapons or armour. There were no real surprises here, and while everything works well, a little more could have implemented.

The controller-mechanics are typically Japanese, crisp and intuitive which compliment the combat and made the gameplay the absolute highlight for me. The layout works well and features a few surprising actions that would be more common in action games as opposed to RPG’s. There is the basic layout which allows for your basic combat and movement, then as you learn more combat ‘attacks’, you can assign the new attacks to certain buttons. I used the soldier or brute class which meant I carried a shield and a sword, and my expertise was close-combat in both defence and attack. I could strike with the basic attack or a heavy one. Then once I bought or learned new skills, I assigned them to the other face buttons and could activate the more powerful attacks by holding in RB and using the various face buttons. There is a wealth of skills you can learn and add or remove to your attack at any time after.

The pawn system was well designed and implemented well for the most part but the AI did let me down here and there. You have your primary pawn from the beginning and then you will add two more to your squad to total three pawns that will accompany you on your quests. You hire pawns along your venturing or in ‘The Rift’, a mystical place you enter and can view various pawns. In The Rift you have more choice and you can filter your search for the right pawn for the quest or battles ahead. You can swap pawns at anytime where you find another and the pawns will even level up and evolve with experience. You have basic commands for the pawns which you set to the D-Pad [go, help, attack, come] and the pawns also engage on their own. The pawns not only help in battles, but they offer advice, guidance or collect items for you. Admittedly the pawns’ intelligence is questionable, so I found myself saving them more often than the other way around. They also repeat the same one-liners at a tedious rate which got tiresome rather quickly.

Since Dragon’s Dogma is suitably focused on the campaign RPG experience, the online pawn prefix does not intrude on the solo affair. Players can simply upload and trade player-created pawns with the community if you are struggling to find suitable pawns in your own campaign. This is a wonderful feature that works seamlessly and can only add to the longevity of the massive game.

Dragon’s Dogma is easily a forty-hour plus adventure and those that like completing every last quest can probably double that time, and with such a massive world I would have welcomed the ability to fast-travel. The exclusion of this coupled with the fact that the game only allows one save, made for long treks being unnecessarily repeated because I happened to die in a battle after a long haul. You cannot save once engaged in a battle so if you didn’t save before then an untimely death would result in all that progress needing to be repeated.

Sound and visuals

Fans of the genre will know that with massive gaming worlds and customisable characters, the visuals are hardly ever that impressive with the console version at least. Still, I would not say that the visuals are Dragons Dogma’s strongest point. The gaming world is beautiful, well detailed and vivid; but a little basic and muddy here and there. The characters are not the most detailed or ‘life like’ looking. There are some impressive aspects with the character’s visuals though, like the fact that the characters are rendered properly even during complex cut-scenes, thanks to new tech Capcom used in developing the game.

The camera work is a little clumsy here and there and not nearly dynamic enough. This was particularly annoying when fighting giants – you need to climb up them to get better attacking options, and the rotation and zooming of the camera often let me down while I shimmered around the giant.

Nothing stood out notably in this audio department either, but was carefully put together as was the voice-acting. The scoring is well suited to the fantasy genre, highlighting the drama when need be and creating the mood effectively. The only major nuance was as previously mentioned, the tedious one-liners that were permanently blabbed out by the pawns.

Overall the quality of the audio and visuals was of an apt quality while nothing stood out. Fortunately there were no major defects to report in these departments which is often the case with such large gaming world. It is clear that much care was taken when putting Dragon’s Dogma together.

Closing comments

Dragon’s Dogma was well thought out and designed, introducing some unique and interesting elements to a genre where we see little deviation from the usual formula. The combat surprises and delights; the gameplay is addictive and the trump card, the ‘pawn’ element, adds a great dimension to both the RPG element and in how you tackle the battles. So while a few aspects were a little rough-around-the-edges, for the most part I have nothing but praise for Dragon’s Dogma.

Zombiegamer rating:

 

 

Read about our ratings here.

About r0gue Zombie

Known as Victor Vieira to his mommy, r0gue is a Consoloptipus [con-sol-opti-pus] plural: con-sol–opto-pi • Derived from Latin meaning “he who is too cheap to buy a gaming pc” • Commonly found online. If encountered in natural habitat, presume dangerous [to himself]. • From the ‘alles-terian’ group [will eat anything]. Needs regular feeds.