Hands on with Dragon’s Dogma

 

The release of the Dragon’s Dogma demo is now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace and will follow on the Playstation Network on 25th April. Not wasting any time, I booted up the demo to give it a go and see what I thought about this creature team bash up!

First thoughts on the demo; now that’s a shiny menu! For the genre of the game, it’s everything we expect to see for a game of this genre; from the layout to the level of customisation, even all the way down to the fanciful style of writing and constant fiery images. Digging through the menus you note how much is actually restricted, but with an open world game, it will always be hard to compress so much of what’s expected into a demo. 

Starting from the top, you are given the opening cinematic and first level of gameplay. For an open world this section is very much on rails, but it lets you explore what is the game’s greatest aspect; the fluid combat which it compels. As you slaughter your way through some goblins you get a feel for the standard light and heavy attacks, disposing of foes in an array of sword mastery. Yes the starting level sticks you with the Knight’s skill set but it gives scope to the story and gives you a chance to see how hectic combat can get when surrounded. Moving through some of the special moves you see how not to overexert the character whilst still making good use of timing and speed, all the while each sword strike and shield bash has a feeling of ‘umph’ behind it! Capcom have brought some notable experience to Dragon’s Dogma, especially when you look at some of their past titles like the Devil May Cry, Dead Rising and Street Fighter series.

DD 2At the end of this stage of the demo we get to see where Dragon’s Dogma really shines. A Chimera (Lion/Goat/Snake monster hybrid) strikes out at your party of four, and suddenly the game leaves button mashing aside and takes up a tactical approach. Aiming to kill the beast, you tackle each section, disarming the monster as the party of four pull off co-operative moves and cinematic finishers.

This leads to the second part of the demo, a nice open field where your party intend to eradicate some unruly hobgoblins when a Griffin dives from the sky with a shriek (Eagle’s head and Lion’s body just for clarification). Once more your character, who is now more of a Ranger/Strider type, takes a tactical yet powerful approach! As all the hours of my gaming and geek-dom enlightened me, I raced to attack the creatures’ wings. Logic would help my team overpower this foe! The mage healed the party and turned our weapons to fire! The other strider rained down a barrage of arrows as the Griffin took to the sky and the brute of a warrior took a kneeling position offering an assist. Unaware of what would happen I ran to the Warrior, my eye fixed on the dark outline against the blue! Letting loose an arrow or two the beast turned and headed our way, and at this point I was next to the Warrior, “Assist” the B button was prompting me. What I didn’t expect was to be launched into the air, and with flailing arms my character grabbed the Griffin! I let out a cheer and began hacking at its hind legs, feeling like Legolas from Lord of the Rings. It was only as the Griffin took issue with this and kicked my now very mortal and very heavy man off at a height, where my teammates resembled ants, off and down towards the ground.

DD 3So overall my first attempt did not go so well. But I was hyped! Pumped! And annoyed the game was not out already! Each fight so far had been a true nail biting struggle and all you’re left with is a feeling of wanting more. Knowing the game’s character customisation will port to the full release later in May, it was time to look at the final part of the demo.

The character customisation is detailed and well laid out, giving you templates to start with and a lot of adjustable settings to create either yourself or who you wish you looked like. Needless to say my computer version of me grew a foot in height, had long flowing hair and obviously spent every day since childbirth in a gym. And the customisation does extend to your pawn, a character that will be your accomplice and aid throughout the game, so you really can tailor how the adventure is for you.

The demo was missing a lot of what previews and critics are promising, but as a demo it has already won over one fan. I loved the gameplay, I enjoyed the exhilaration of taking on the mythical beasts, I enjoyed thinking about how to do it and more than anything, as soon as I have finished typing, I’m going to play Dragon’s Dogma again. But most importantly, you should too!

Dragon’s Dogma is released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on the 22nd of May.

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