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Customer Review

171 of 185 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined to become the next great cult classic, May 23, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dragon's Dogma - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Dragon's Dogma is an interesting hybrid. With Japan's game industry languishing in the wake of newly risen Western RPGs like Skyrim and Mass Effect, developers of the Far East have been scrambling for a way to catch up. Dragon's Dogma may not be the first attempt of East-Meets-West the industry has seen, but it's certainly one of the best.

After a non-sequitur tutorial beginning which sees you filling the role of a presumably ancient warrior, you're eventually given the reins to craft a hero of your own. Here is the first step of the game's quiet brilliance, providing a staggering buffet of customization options. Not only can you set such minutiae as the angle of your hero's brow, or even choose two differently colored eyes, but you can set the big things as well: gender, height, girth, muscle, even the length of your character's limbs. Each of these things has subtle effects on gameplay. Add a few inches to your stature, and you can carry more items without being burdened, but your stamina replenishes slower.

Once you've crafted your avatar, that's when things start to get interesting. A dragon strikes your village and literally steals your heart, setting up the crux of the game's plot: The serpent, by robbing your pulsing organ in a splash of blood, has marked you as its rival, an Arisen, destined to challenge it in a far-off battle. But between you and that far-off fight stands an enormous, living world to explore.

The demo Capcom released for this game prior to launch does not do the world justice. It is a coy place, filled to the brim with shining hidden things that, in similar vein to Capcom's own Monster Hunter series, can be combined into ever-better items, or sold at shops for a premium. The quick and functional inventory menu helps turn this system into a true avenue for experimentation: Every item's properties are explained in full detail, giving you clues as to what materials might be compatible, and when a match shows up in your inventory, or the inventory of your party members, you can easily and faultlessly combine at will.

And what a party you will amass. Unlike games like Skyrim or Dragon Age that have a set pool of companions who will walk at your side, in Dragon's Dogma the legion is limitless. For in this game we have an exultant twist in the form of Pawns, who are the sidekick creations of other live players.

An hour or so into the game, you'll have the chance to craft your own Pawn--using the same breathlessly deep customization as for your own hero--who will stay loyal by your side throughout your entire adventure. As you explore the nooks and crannies of Gransys, the game's world, and tackle all manner of enemies and quests, your Pawn will learn alongside you. Later, when you rest at an inn or travel into the smoky realm of the Rift, your Pawn will be uploaded to the world amidst thousands of other players' companions. And that's where Dragon's Dogma shines.

Gransys is not a world easily tamed. When night falls, the fauna grow vicious, and the only way to prevail over the mightier enemies such as Griffons, Chimaeras, and Cyclops is to have extra hands at your side. You and your Pawn will make an unshakable pair, but the other two spots in your party are open for hire, and that's where other players' Pawns come in. Step into the misty veil of the Rift, and other players' Pawns will approach you. Through a slick menu system, you can immediately see what skills and knowledge they have at their disposal. Bring along a Pawn that's already completed a quest you're about to begin, and he or she will dispense tips about treasure and enemies. The game even offers a search option to narrow down exactly the kind of help you're looking for.

Other players' Pawns don't level alongside you, however, so there's the rub: You'll want to constantly switch out your party to make sure you're in prime shape for the challenges ahead. It's a wise move on Capcom's part, encouraging you to make the most of the Pawn system and see what concoctions fellow players have made. For those of you without Internet access, don't fear: the game comes pre-populated with a bevy of developer-made Pawns as well. Also a boon: none of the online features require Xbox Live Gold. You can get by with the free version and still make full use of other players' Pawns.

In all, Dragon's Dogma stands as a testament to the strength of hybrid sensibilities. The combat is meaty, fierce, and distinctly Japanese: as you level, you can learn ever-more-vicious moves, assign them at will, and devise bloody combos to take down your foes. Larger enemies can be clambered upon, encouraging you to go for the weak spot and hold on for dear life when you're bucked about, while smaller enemies can be grabbed by you or your party members for satisfying finishers. In fact, the grabbing mechanic adds another layer to battles: throw rocks, explosives, or jars of oil at enemies to afflict them with all manner of debilitations. The sheer tactical possibilities only emerge once you start peeling away at all your moves, items, and party combinations, and it can have you number-crunching for hours.

And yet this fast, visceral, and stylish core is wrapped in a world that wouldn't be out of place in an Elder Scrolls game. It's a perfect marriage of two distinct and complementary styles: the obsessive depth and detail of JRPGs combined with the epic sprawl of the West. Much has been said of how Japanese development needs to step up to the plate, and step up they did. And yet, perhaps it's less of how much Japan can learn from the West, and more of how both sides can learn from each other.

If you are any sort of fan of either genre, you owe it to yourself to pick up Dragon's Dogma.

-----Quick Points-----

* The game runs terrifically well on Xbox 360, even without an install. Load times when moving between the overworld and towns seem even faster than in Skyrim, and I was pleased to find that there are no loads when entering and exiting buildings in town.

* While the game doesn't offer true multiplayer, it does have online features. These can be accessed even without Xbox Live Gold, and if you don't have Internet access, you can still use developer-made Pawns. There is no online pass.

* If you played the demo, you can seamlessly and easily import your created characters into the full version of the game. I'm glad to report that this worked flawlessly.

* While fast-traveling isn't as free and easy as in games like Skyrim, you have an extremely fast sprint that can be used to cover a lot of ground. Your sprint is limited by your Stamina and carrying weight.

* You can combine items from any of your party members without requiring those items to be in your own inventory.

* When upgrading equipment, you can use your stored items without first needing to place them in your inventory. This is a big time-saver.

* Money is rather easy to come by, so it's worth experimenting with new equipment and items.

* Your pawns are fairly autonomous. They'll often find items on their own that you can then take from them. They are also fairly smart in battle. However, you can also issue simple commands with the D-pad to influence their behavior.

* Pawns don't die immediately; they get knocked unconscious, at which point you can run over to them and press a button to revive them. This doesn't use items and is instant. Pawns can be revived as many times as needed. If they're unconscious for too long, however, they'll become "forfeit" and return to the Rift. If you die, it's game over. Pawns don't revive you from death, but they will heal you.

* After you return a Pawn to its owner, you can review the Pawn and leave a pre-selected comment for its owner. You can also send along a gift item when releasing another player's Pawn from your party.

* The world is absolutely filled with goodies. Search for shiny stumps, barrels, plants, and treasure chests everywhere.

* Items can weigh you down. You can place items in storage at inns, or you can distribute your inventory across the rest of your party.

* You can pick up and throw a variety of things--even your Pawns and enemies. Thrown jars can damage enemies with debilitations, or you can find hidden items in broken-apart containers.

* While there's no dedicated lock-on system to target enemies, it seems like there's a sort of invisible smart targeting system anyway. I found my hero "sticking" slightly towards the closest enemy I was facing.

* Striders have unlimited arrows! You can also purchase special arrows tipped with all manner of poisons that are limited.

* Your starting class and your Pawn's starting class aren't locked in stone. You can switch classes later in the game, multiple times.

* You can save anywhere.

* When the game gets dark at night, it really gets dark. There's a real sense of danger here, and it's vital to keep a lantern or torch on your person. Alternately, you can set enemies on fire and try to walk by the light of their flames as well.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 23, 2012 11:08:51 AM PDT
jones says:
Thanks for the input on how well the game runs! I had heard a few bad things in forums and that an install to the hdd was mandatory, but you said the game runs well without an install! Great review too. I really want this game.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 1:18:24 PM PDT
Goosifer says:
Hey, thanks for your comment!

I was also quite curious about how it runs on the 360. I'd heard some negative things prior and was a bit worried, but so far it's been extremely smooth. A little screen tearing once in a while, but it has a very stable FPS, even in wide-open areas. And it seems to run much better than the demo as well.

I hope you can get the game! It's fantastic.

Posted on May 23, 2012 8:26:33 PM PDT
D. Sipler says:
I played the demo, both sections, and I really did like it. I've been on the fence about picking it up, but you are definitely making me lean towards getting it. I am concerned about a few things though, perhaps you could enlighten me?

1)Dying, I know if you have a healer they can heal, and there's potions, but if say a pawn dies, are they gone for good, or can you revive them or something?

2) You mention fast-traveling not being as free and easy as in other games (unless I misinterpreted), how does it work in this game?

3) I read that you really should find shelter somewhere, like a cave, fort, etc, at night, because it's not safe. Is this for the most part true? What's the reason for this exactly, simply because you just can't see too well, or are there more enemies/more powerful enemies lurking around?

4) This is more of a joke, but, can you turn off your pawn's dialogue? Heh, after playing the demo I can easily see myself getting sick of hearing them talk, mainly if it's constant and the same things over & over.


In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 12:50:10 AM PDT
jones says:
Well I can answer the fast traveling question: there are items that allow you to fast travel, but they are limited in quantity and pretty rare. It is actually possible to use all of them and not have any left to use for the rest of the game, so you want to use them sparingly. There is a quest, though, the griffin quest, where you get a crystal of sorts that can be planted in the ground. This crystal apparently allows unlimited fast travel between that spot and any town/city. I'm pretty sure you can also pick the crystal back up again and place it in a new spot. I guess the game wants you to have to walk around and explore instead of just fast travel everywhere. Kind of increases the feeling of danger.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 12:54:41 AM PDT
jones says:
Oh, and for your third question, it's both. The game is extremely dark at night and on top of that, the fauna are more vicious. So it is a double whammy of danger at night.

Posted on May 24, 2012 1:59:26 AM PDT
D. Sipler says:
Thanks for answering my questions, Jones.

Posted on May 24, 2012 8:40:32 AM PDT
Viper says:
Thank you for the in depth and helpful review. OXM and IGN had me worried about purchasing this game. However, if it compares BETTER than the demo it will be very fun. Cheers!

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:36:32 AM PDT
Goosifer says:
Hi D,

To answer some of your questions:

1.) If a pawn dies, they go unconscious, at which point you have a window of time where you can revive them. If you exceed that window, then the pawn becomes "forfeit," and they go back to the Rift. I haven't yet exceeded that window (thankfully), but I was really happy to find that reviving is very easy: you just run up to your pawn and press B when the "Revive" command shows up on your button menu. They revive instantly, and with about a quarter of their health. As far as I know, reviving them doesn't use up any items, and you can revive them as many times as needed.

2.) Jones did a great job of answering this question above.

3.) Like Jones mentioned, it gets pretty dark, and the enemies get tougher and there are more of them. That doesn't mean you should only go out during the day, though. Some items can only be obtained at night. Also, you can get torches and lanterns to help you see in the darkness. If you and your pawns each have a lantern activated, then visibility really improves. Lanterns use up oil, but so far I haven't needed to refill my lanterns. Also, oil seems pretty readily available for free in the game world.

4.) I'd have to dig around in the options menu again to be sure, but I think you can only turn off your Pawns' subtitles, not their voices. In the full game, their dialogue isn't actually as repetitive as it is in the demo. They sometimes have some genuinely funny or important quest-related things to say, so it's worth listening to them. Although they will repeat things, 70% of what they've been saying to me so far has been pretty decent and relevant. Also interesting is that Pawns of different temperaments will say things differently.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 9:50:21 AM PDT
Goosifer says:
Viper, I'm glad I could help!

And yes, the full game is considerably better than the demo. I don't always believe when developers claim a demo is a "much earlier build," but in this case it really was. The full game is more stable, your Pawns repeat themselves less, and there's a giant world to explore with lots of secrets.

In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2012 11:43:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2012 12:14:35 PM PDT
C. Batey says:
D. Sipler,

To help awnser question 4, YES; however, this option is only for your Main Pawn.

In the Pawn Guild there is a table with two chairs, If you sit in one of the chairs your pawn will sit across from you and carry on a conversation about how you would like her to act, talk, fight, etc. This conversation takes the form of questions, as she/he will ask you about different situations and your responses will determine how she/he interacts throughout the game. I made the mistake of anwsering wrong which made her not shut up lol; however, it was a very easy fix and now she really only talks to inform me of needed quest information which is very handy. Hope this helps
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