Neal Molyneaux looks at Capcom's first attempt at a Western style, open world RPG.
Format: Xbox 360
Available: Out now
Dragon's Dogma marks Japanese publisher Capcom's first foray into a Western style open world RPG in a market that has already seen the likes of standout titles such as Skyrim and Dark Souls unleashed this year. So, does this game have what it takes to raise its game above such illustrious company?
The game opens with a fully tooled up party taking on a manticore as a prelude to a face-off with the titular dragon but, after slaying the first beast, the game whisks you forward to a different time when the slumbering dragon is unleashed upon the world once more and, after rushing to confront it with your custom built character, you quickly find yourself minus a heart - reincarnated as 'The Arisen'. From here, the open world is your oyster as you take on missions to improve your character in order to be able to take on bigger, tougher foes leading up to a showdown with the dragon that has your heart.
You are assisted in these missions by 'pawns' - quest partners either selected from a preloaded set or from other players characters online, giving the game more of a MMOG feel as you pick and choose a team tactically suited to each foe. You have one pawn which consistently accompanies your character and who can be levelled up alongside you, but the rest of your team-mates have to be hired on a per-mission basis. Combat, while a team effort, is player led with your pawns providing magic attacks, healing and melees - as well as exhorting you to aim for weak points on your foe.
Dragon's Dogma is a massive game with some beautifully realised settings and opponents, but it is not without its flaws. Quests can be repetitive over the thirty-five hours that the game is supposed to take to complete and, while the world itself is graphically impressive, the characters themselves suffer from glitches and clipping that aren't forgivable in this day and age. Frame stutter and slow down also rear their ugly heads when the combat gets overly frenetic - especially on the slightly arthritic Xbox... In a crowded marketplace, such things matter, but the scope and breadth of Capcom's foray into RPG territory do much to assuage these issues and Dragon's Dogma is a solid first attempt.