|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Release: May 22, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
Stamina plays a critical role in combat, since every power in every class feeds off of this resource, and being overburdened requires skills to use up even more stamina. Your hero will show noticeable signs of fatigue as the energy bar decreases, and will be forced to stop and catch his or her breath when completely depleted, a significant vulnerability in a heated battle. It's just another element in a robust and challenging combat system against some incredibly imposing monsters such as ogres, wyverns, griffons, and hydras, just to name a few. Each enemy uses its own specific tactics, and most are extremely aggressive, so finding the weaknesses and exploiting them requires a sharp eye and a quick mind, as well as weapons capable of causing meaningful damage, and armor able to hold up under heavy blows.
We finally come to the multiplayer aspect, which has been a highly advertized feature from developer Capcom. You can have three companions, called pawns, join your campaign. One is created by you and levels up like you do. The other two are chosen by travelling through the Rift, and are either computer-generated allies if playing offline, or crafted from other players if playing online. Each pawn is unique in that they are forthcoming with tips and knowledge from their conquests in that particular player's world, creating a dynamic scenario no matter where you travel. However, they cannot be leveled, and thus you'll never get to keep the perfect crew, forced to enlist new characters as you progress. It may be more than most RPGs of this scope accomplish in the multiplayer department, but you still are stripped of being able to actually play the campaign alongside a friend, which is a shame.
Dragon's Dogma suffers most in the technical department. There are far too many texture pop-ins, and characters will fade in after you've approached due to slow loading. The character models are not as detailed as they could have been, nor do they have any semblance of believable lip-synching in their presentation. Listening to the multitude of various music styles, from lyrical rock tunes to soft synthesizers, certainly leaves an impression, but many times the music just feels out of place. And again we are presented with a mute hero, a trend in this genre that infuriates me.
Saying that Dragon's Dogma takes elements from various other Capcom titles and fuses them into a Western RPG would be missing the point of what should be considered a unique action fantasy in its own right. The world is one of the first I've seen that truly implores you to give it the proper respect rather than brashly dive into the unknown and expect to emerge unblemished. The story and characters may not drive you to a sublime world of fiction, but the action more than makes up for it, with character and equipment customization that will keep you tweaking and enjoying yourself the entire time.
Date: May 23, 2012