PS3 Reviews: Dragon's Dogma Review

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Dragon's Dogma Review

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Graphics:

 

8.3

Gameplay:

 

8.5

Sound:

 

7.8

Control:

 

8.0

Replay Value:

 

8.4

Overall Rating:       8.2

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Capcom

Developer:

Capcom

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Genre

Dragon’s Dogma so desperately wants to be something special. But it doesn’t strive to mimic or emulate; it doesn’t wish to blend with the elite crowd. It desires a very distinct sort of “special,” an experience that doesn’t easily settle into the standard role-playing category. It insists upon itself. It isn’t perfect and it doesn’t care. And if you click with this unabashed, invigorating adventure, you’re in for one hell of a ride.

My guess is that you will find contrasting viewpoints when it comes to the graphics. On the one hand, you’ve got a lack of vividness and vibrant color, as many of the environments can appear drab and bland. But on the other hand is the game’s spectacular world design, which excels in the realm of diversity and style without necessarily blowing you away with its technical capability. Bottom line: You will only appreciate this massive world if you explore it fully. Until then, don’t pass judgment.

The artistry and animation of certain enemies is absolutely amazing, and the effects kick in big time when your party is flailing away, attempting to take down a gigantic beast that towers above you. It’s true that a bevy of visual glitches can be spotted and do have a negative impact on the adventure, but if you’re a glass-half-full type of person, you will appreciate the highlights. The graphical highs are especially lofty in this presentation, even if the lows can be disappointing. I don’t normally dedicate two paragraphs to graphics, but this deserved elaboration.

The sound is another mixed bag but again, I’m going to take a more positive approach. I liked a lot of the voice work and although I’m not typically a fan of Japanese rock, I think such tracks were used with great effectiveness here. In fact, I don’t think those kick-ass beats were used enough; too often, a more generic orchestral score accompanies our questing. That being said, the balance of the audio is decent, and both the soundtrack and robust sound effects enhance every intense encounter. There may be a fair amount of subjectivity involved but chances are, you’ll dig what your speakers are presenting.

In a very large world, a cohesive, compelling story attempts to be heard. Like the entire production, the plot insists on recognition; it demands your attention and even shows flashes of storytelling excellence. But too many of the events and occurrences are just plain bizarre and don’t seem to gel. In other words, there seems to be a lack of continuity, in that a side quest or even a main event doesn’t always alter the development of the characters. In some cases, you’re just going, “uh, wait…shouldn’t you hate me?”

I mention the story first simply because I’m an old-school fan of linear role-playing games, and I miss the brilliant story portrayal and delivery we used to see in old Squaresoft gems. But to be fair, a game like Dragon’s Dogma, despite its appreciated emphasis on a somewhat disjointed story, survives almost entirely on its solid and even addictive gameplay. And here’s where things get awfully interesting, because players will initially draw parallels between this game and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, without realizing that Dogma is very much its own experience.

Firstly, you will utilize a party mechanic that involves three “pawns.” One of the pawns will always be by your side, and you have full control of his or her name, appearance, class, skills, equipment, etc. The other pawns can be hired and fired as you see fit, which gives us an intriguing strategic element that actually reminded me a bit of Final Fantasy Tactics. In the latter, you could recruit new soldiers and train them. It’s a little different here in that the hirelings can't be entirely built to your personal specifications, but the "throwaway" pawns still add flair.

Anyway, the pawns are interesting for a variety of reasons. I’d often get a little annoyed at their incessant jabbering, but it’s often so cheerful and good-natured that I found it hard to get legitimately upset. Besides, they can be immensely helpful. They might reveal a tough enemy’s weaknesses (after the pawn discovers that weakness himself) or remind you that healing is required. Still, I have to say that the constantly repeated lines, as optimistic and carefree as they typically were, started to grate after the ten hour mark. I mean, really...enough.

I did enjoy the old English dialogue, though, and they did make me smile. The only truly frustrating part was when they didn’t react quickly enough to my commands, or failed to perform up to par. This is where I wanted a more detailed AI system, like the one we had in Final Fantasy XII (sorry, I keep referring to FF here), because Dragon’s Dogma really could’ve used a more advanced AI command mechanic. But overall, I’d say the ally AI can be labeled as competent, and the size and scope of the journey keeps one riveted despite buddy silliness.

And speaking of size, you just gotta see the bosses in this game. In addition to featuring fantastic animation and design, the bosses are huge, vicious, and extremely intimidating. The first you encounter is a gigantic griffon, and that’s also when you realize that battles can have numerous outcomes. The griffon might pick you up and drop you to your death, or you might light its wings on fire and beat the snot out of it for a while. Then, as you progress, chimeras, golems, and even the occasional awesome dragon will test every ounce of your stalwart mettle.

Once again, though, as soon as we talk about a high point, we must address a drawback. While the bosses – and indeed, most of the enemies – provide the gamer with a substantial challenge and afterward, a significant reward, one will quickly notice that backtracking is the unfortunate name of the game. Well, at least for a while. You just spend far too much time wandering through the same areas, and as many of those landscapes are kinda barren to begin with, this can get tedious. Exploration and travel needed to be more streamlined and dynamic.

Ah, but that gameplay is just so good! The control is great, the character advancement and customization is even better, and you will always be on the edge of your seat. Few games are capable of keeping you involved and interested; few, especially of such immense size, can manage to keep every encounter entertaining. It’s frustrating when you run into a challenge you simply can’t take down, but this happened to me quite often in Skyrim and I didn’t complain then. To me, this only encourages further exploration and redoubled dedication. Given the intense, ultimately satisfying nature of the combat system and the fact that I just wanted to see new enemies, I never felt overwhelmed or outmatched. I just felt temporarily underpowered.

At the very least, Dragon’s Dogma is a huge game that will keep you on your toes. There’s a good 30-40 hours of gameplay here (and a lot more if you choose to do everything), and the consistently fun and demanding battles will keep you playing. If you look close, you really will appreciate the extra attention paid to small, seemingly inconsequential details. They’re not inconsequential at all; they add to the overall panache and atmosphere, which can be erratic and patchy, but when it’s good…it’s great. Plus, you factor in some decision making and a world that just begs you to explore, and you’ve got major bang for your buck.

It doesn’t fire on all cylinders all the time. It can be disappointing and frustrating. But at the end of the day, you will reflect and conclude that all in all, you’re experiencing what could be a memorable adventure.

The Good: Fantastic enemy design and supreme animations. Some good music selections. Combat is almost always demanding and entertaining. Big, diverse, engaging world. Competent, often helpful AI. Decision-making is a huge plus.

The Bad: Obvious visual glitches. Erratic pawn behavior. Too much backtracking involved. Disjointed storyline.

The Ugly: “Yes, that is a big tree. I heard you the fifty-eighth time, damnit.”

6/5/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (32 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 10:28:00 PM
Reply

Ultimately after playing the demo I decided to pass it over for the time being. It was really awkward, though I could appreciate the attempt to build a brand new combat system, at the end of the day that snippet didn't quite win me over. Maybe some day in the bargain bin.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 11:04:56 PM

That's what made me buy Two Worlds 2 was the combat system.

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SayWord
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 11:29:12 PM

do not pass on this man! argh it's just so good. :(

Last edited by SayWord on 6/5/2012 11:29:38 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 3:41:38 AM

I just bought the expansion to Two Worlds II, Pirates of the flying fortress. It's steep as hell at $30 but it's really really good. The quirks are still there but the visuals are upgraded a bit, the animations are better, and the engine feels tighter. I love it.

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Phoenix
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 10:39:21 PM
Reply

This game would have been a day 1 pick up for me if they had added in an online mode, but sadly they did not. The game as a single player adventure seems ok for the most part, and yet the cons present some serious problems, perhaps I shall make the purchase when it's much cheaper.


O, and Capcom, when are you going to give us a Monster Hunter title for the ps3?!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 10:46:59 PM

Never, Capcom doesn't like money or make sense.

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Gabriel013
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:53:22 AM

The lack of an online mode makes me more interested in this game

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Phoenix
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 11:19:07 AM

Well, coming from the Monster Hunter games from both the PSP and the Wii, I can 100% say that this game would have been amazing with online hunts, a huge chance missed by capcom.

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MrAnonymity
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 10:52:25 PM
Reply

Loving the game quite thoroughly, I am. Your sentiments echo my own to boot. Hearing certain phrases a hundred times in twenty minutes gets tiring, but doesn't detract enough from the grandeur that is Dragon's Dogma. Excellent review, Ben.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 11:03:18 PM
Reply

Only one player? Hmm, for some reason I thought it had co-op. Well that means I'm not getting it. But the score makes it tempting. But I need to finish Skyrim still so, that's what I'll do instead.

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Sol
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:03:19 AM
Reply

It depends on how you play really, my first runthrough I literally walked from place to place to really absorb everything in... and by walk, I mean literally tilt the analog just enough to move ever so slightly... Still I agree with this review entirely.

I will say that in terms of pawns, it depends. You can sit your own pawn down to refine their personality and actions, but you can't rely on that with the other pawns you hire. That and after a while I tuned out the pawns as far as their usefulness (cuz technically they are a hinderance at times)kinda left me wanting more on that front. I think I'd have rather had a friend instead of a pawn if you catch my drift.

To close, I'd like to end with, "Tis much larger up close." Haha...

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ethird1
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:08:56 AM
Reply

The worst person to review this type of game is a Final Fantasy 10 part 2 gamer who loves to play dress the girl up and have girly love stories instead hunting like a real HUNTER and doing awesome battles and adventures. And by adventures I don't mean using a girl character with a gun sword to fight 30 soldiers with automatic weapons, all the while dancing around in hot pants and making sure to tell all the male players that it isnt gay to play that type of game as a guy, but retro!!! Just saying .....

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:13:43 AM

LOL funny read :)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:25:18 AM

I really don't have a response to that.

It speaks for itself.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 1:24:27 AM

LOL - that post gave me some weird, sick images in my mind of the beefy Ben in his hotpants.

Not sure if I should thank you or curse you, but funny it was! :D

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 3:47:51 AM

That's kind silly isn't it? I mean look at Yakuza 4, you beat the hell out of guys half the time but it's still fun to dress up your hostesses at your club :)

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:15:18 AM
Reply

Thanks for the review Ben. I've been on the fence about this one, the videos of it look like it offers a lot of fun.


Oh and just wanted you to know you've helped me a lot these past few years thanks to your reviews.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:25:02 AM

A rare moment of seriousness from the one and only LV. ;)

And I do appreciate it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 3:48:35 AM

Ben I'd like to thank you personally for recommending Singularity :)

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Ludicrous_Liam
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 5:17:40 AM

I never base my purchases off reviews (I have a sixth sense for how good a game is you see), but I like to read your reviews anyhow.

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TheCanadianGuy
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:30:58 PM

generally i know what games i'll like so i don't really need reviews but i always read ben's.

i'm not a big internet guy this is the only site i use. i subscribe to PTOM magazine And there are a few game review tv shows here in canada i watch.

but even still i already know if i'm getting a game or not. for example Beyond two Souls. i'm buying that bad boy the day it drops no question about it. if i could i'd like to personality give mr cage my 60$ right now lol

Last edited by TheCanadianGuy on 6/6/2012 12:36:18 PM

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Shams
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:40:25 PM

I had absolutely no interest in this game until I read this review.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 1:45:14 PM

Come on guys, stop stealing the emotional moment Ben and I are having together...it's just weird.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 7:26:36 PM

Attention hoggers. ;)

World: Nowhere near enough people played Singularity, damnit.

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JohnnyKey
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:30:58 AM
Reply

This review is spot on. Despite some of its faults I am enjoying the game. Good game, good review.

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Gabriel013
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 12:56:56 AM
Reply

Ben, you mentioned the combat is almost always demanding but I wondered if it was possible to grind your experience to strengthen your character so the combat isn't always so demanding.

If the enemy level scales with the player then I may need to give this a miss.

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Sol
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 10:27:54 PM

Yeah, you can grind based on how you play, and there are the occassional charms that'll double experience. The only thing is your job level goes off of something other than regular experience, so it grows at a different rate. Enemies don't scale to your level though, to answer your question. With enough time, even the toughest baddy becomes as malliable as dryer lint... except the Ur-Dragon, but as to why is for you to find out.

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___________
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 6:32:59 AM
Reply

really need to go get this just too many other games out there!
they really did themselves a disservice by releasing this so close to the years biggest best RPG!
the witcher 2 is so much bigger and better than this so they would of lost allot of sales because people are still busy playing that!

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TheIllusiveMan
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 6:41:11 AM
Reply

Just to mention this Ben, you didn't seem to talk much about the combat itself. It reminds me of a more hack and slash version of Dragon Age 2. The big difference though being that you can just climb on enemies and wail away on them. That was the most fun I had. Just climbing onto an enemy and crawling to a spot they can't reach.

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frostface
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 @ 8:56:55 AM
Reply

I think you were too generous with your score. It's a 7.5 at best in my opinion after 30+hrs.

Nothing was mentioned about the terrible quest management.

And the game is far from great looking. There's a ridiculous amount of pop-in (or whatever you call it when stuff doesn't load in properly straight away).

But I will agree there is some fun there to be had and the Pawn system is a nice touch.

If they make a sequel, if it's more polished I'd say you'd have one of the best on the market. As it stands, it's certainly not.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, June 07, 2012 @ 12:02:36 AM

I don't get bent out of shape with things like pop-in and screen tearing. Not anywhere near anal enough for that.

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berserk
Saturday, June 09, 2012 @ 1:02:00 PM
Reply

Wow Ben , you really NAILED the good , the bad and the ugly .

" supreme animations " tell me about it . Even after killing countless cyclops i m still amazed by the way they react to stuff and the way they move .


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