Dragon's Dogma User Review
The first thing to grab your attention in Dragon's Dogma, are the graphics. While not on par with certain games of this generation, the environments, the atmospheres, and the people or creatures of the many places you will traverse will immerse you even deeper into the game.
With the exception of the player and player related characters (seeing as if you can create your own character and comrade should you choose), character design is pretty solid, you will easily begin to recognize familiar faces over time as you encounter them more, and each character's design corresponds with the type of environments in which they reside. There is a notable difference in the appearance of the citizens of a fishing village, and that of those from the big city.
The world of Gransys is a vast and beautiful place to look at from time to time. This is perhaps mainly due to the lighting, which cycles from bright to dark and everything in-between near endlessly, which lets the world be seen as such. Vibrant and lush colors of woodland areas, drab and low value mountainous regions look very convincing as it is, but as day becomes night will seem an entirely different place (especially if your only source of light is an equip-able lantern...). Unfortunately though, the visuals will seem less splendid the more time you log into the game, because you will inevitably see more of the same as you revisit the various locales.
Enemy design isn't one of Dragon's Dogma's strong points unfortunately, but only because of the limited variety of enemies you can encounter. You'll notice that some enemies are more of a palette swap of the same enemy, rather than a new enemy entirely. The boss enemies though are definitely a step up, and most are relatively unique (though a couple still suffer from palette swapping... namely chimera and lesser dragons).
The gameplay is pretty straightforward and simple. Dragon's Dogma uses a Vocation (Job Class) system that lets you change up how you fight. There are several basic classes, and advanced combination classes to choose from so combat doesn't get too stale, though you could play the entire game in one class throughout (which is always a nice feature to have). Basic combat has a bit of the Devil May Cry flair to it, but isn't nearly as complicated. There are several basic combos, and a plethora of usable skills. The usable job skills all consume your stamina, so there isn't any different cost between using magic or melee skills. There are even some items that have the effects of some magic skills, without a cost.
Combat with larger foes nods toward both Monster Hunter, and Shadow of the Colossus. You can climb upon giants, clamoring up to their weak spots, or you can isolate weak spots with ranged attacks. The same applies to smaller enemies, though instead of climbing them, you can restrain them for a partner to finish off, or even pick them up and throw them (sometimes off of cliffs, haha).
Aside from the individual aspect, there is the "Pawn" system, which allows you to create a constant computer controlled companion (similar to how you create your own character), who will accompany you throughout the game's entirety. You may also hire other pawns that travel the world, or wander within the ethereal Rift, which can be accessed through the riftstones scattered throughout the land.
If you have an internet connection, other players may hire your pawn, and you may hire theirs in turn. This is vital in that throughout the game, your parties coordination determines your successes. Pawns learn and retain knowledge of enemy weaknesses and certain quests, so it is often helpful to hire skilled teammates.
Definitely one of this title's strong points, the epic orchestral pieces make every major battle, that much more impressive. Ambient noises breathe life into the environments. Also when day becomes night, you are encouraged to listen out for enemies in the dark, which makes the very dark areas in the game, a feast for the ears. Each enemy type has a unique sound and it is obvious that a great deal of effort was put into that differentiation (I got a laugh when I heard a zombie say "must keep working").
Though your character isn't much for words, the other characters often speak. Every person you talk to has their lines voice acted, and the voice acting is pretty well done. I especially enjoyed hearing "the dragon" as he spoke words of both threat and guidance in the cutscenes.
Trophy support, and the fact that the story differs somewhat based on your choices and your gender help fuel replayability. You cannot get every trophy on one playthrough like you can with say... Final Fantasy XIII, and there are several endings, definitely encourage a replay. I will say this though, Dragon's Dogma is a lengthy game, and if you play true to yourself you'll feel greatly satisfied with the first ending you get in regards to the story. My playthrough gave me a different epilogue than I'd have liked so I'm going through it again to fix it, then I'm going after the trophies, so at the very least I'll play it a total of four times before putting it on the shelf for a while. Overall, it's definitely a great addition to my collection, so I can honestly say I will definitely return to it sometime after I get the Platinum trophy as well. The overall experience was just that good.
All in all, Capcom may be onto something big with Dragon's Dogma. It left a lasting impression on me, the same as it left a scar over the chest of my character, and I'm sure it'll do the same to everyone else that plays it. It was worth the coin, and it gets my personal recommendation, and two thumbs up!
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.