Dogmatic in its insistence toward mediocrity
Platform Presentation Controls Variety Audio Depth Value & FunOVERALL
PlayStation 3 4.00 6.50 6.00 8.50 6.00 6.006.07
General Information
Played on a 32" Sony Bravia 720p.  Played as a Mage initially, then a Magical Archer.
Gameplay Description
Dragon's Dogma's gimmick, as it were, are the pawns.  Pawns are basically AI-controlled characters in your party.  You have your own main character that you control, a main pawn, and two more pawns that you can recruit from the world.  Largely these pawns act on their own in battle.

Battle is a bit more action-oriented, allowing you to overcome underlevelling a bit more than potentially other RPGs in the same vein.  Primary abilities are available holding R1 and using the face buttons, and secondary abilities are accessed through L1.  What options are available will depend on your class.
Dedication Meter 25.00
To get something out of Dragon's Dogma, not a lot is required in terms of investment.  It's easy to jump in and out of, and there isn't much to worry about for story.  It's also relatively short, considering.
Presentation 4.00
The best thing that can be said about the presentation in Dragon's Dogma is that it looks pretty as a screenshot.  Flashy effects really make the game visually look really nice in still-frame.  Problem is that it approaches still frame when those effects are on-screen, as the frame-rate drops dramatically from an already stuttered rate.

There is a lot of pop-in through the environment, which includes enemies, which can occasionally be a pain.

From the story and cinematic side of things is where Dragon's Dogma really comes up short, though.  The story is nigh non-existent.  Cinematic cutscenes are so sparse they feel almost out of place.  And what story is there never even attempts to make sense.

In terms of gameplay, there is often a lack for a sense of power and improvement as the game progresses.  You can see lifebars of enemies, but leveling up rarely feels like an improvement or something celebratory.  It happens, and things feel the same.  You don't get a sense of who's doing what damage.
Controls 6.50
The controls in the game are satisfactory.  They get the job done, but little else.  A common theme, particularly if you use a ranged class, is that it will often be difficult to target the desired enemy.  Proximity seems to take precedence over your cursor on the screen, so sometimes it is impossible to avoid and not worth the effort.

The camera for the most part is fine, and mostly self-controlled.  Instances where it becomes a problem are when you're fighting airborne enemies, as you can only look so far up, so it's easy to lose them
Variety 6.00
There are two sides to the variety coin in Dragon's Dogma.  The sidequests are relatively varied and in good number throughout the game.  The classes are also fair in number and well-executed.

The flipside to that is that the actual enemies you encounter are very limited.  There are effectively orcs, harpies, wolves, phantoms and bandits for basic enemies, and cyclopses, griffins and manticores for large enemies.  That's it outside of a few bosses.

Attempts to incorporate social elements with "affinity" -- you can court love interests by gifting favoured items -- falls completely flat.  It's not introduced by the game, so if you're not looking for it, you won't find it, and it does absolutely nothing other than have a very minor and non-sensical effect at the end of the game.
Audio 8.50
The voice-acting in the game isn't the greatest in the world, but it's far from the worst.  Add in an occasionally epic score and the audio fits well with with the game.
Depth 6.00
Ultimately, the depth in combat is lacking.  There are some tactics to battle, but they will largely be repetitive in nature and come down to simply this enemy is weak to this element, and otherwise hacking or shooting away.

Outside of battle, there isn't much variety in preparing strategy either.  Get the best equipment you can afford and go, pretty much.
Value & Fun 6.00
Despite the relative simplicity to battle, and repetitious nature of it due to the recurring enemies, the game generally manages to stay within the dumb fun category.  Where things slip severely is in the backtracking.

The fast-travel option in the game are ferry stones.  These are items that you can purchase for large sums of gold.  Later in the game you can get it down to around 9,000, but earlier it's 15,000 and if you don't do a quest in a certain way, it's upped to 20,000.  For reference, the most gold I've had in the game at any one point is approximately 200,000.

Ferry stones can warp you back, when used, to a port crystal.  There is one in the main city of Gransys, and you can pick up at least one other in the world to place where you wish (I found one throughout the whole game).

Largely this encourages the player to play the game in a more boring way, as it is detrimental otherwise.

An example of the problem of having to basically walk everywhere (10+ minute treks are not uncommon), is towards the end where you are basically told to go to the top left corner of the map, then told to go to the top-right, just to be told to go back to the top left.  There is no story development during this, mind you.

Dragging the game out in this fashion does two things: One, it diminishes the desire and enjoyability in pursuing sidequests, and two, it adds more focus to the simple, repetitive combat.
Overall 6.07
Dragon's Dogma is lacking direction.  Pawns do not work as a hook, so we're left instead with a generic WRPG with little to offer.
Posted by Yodariquo Tue, 24 Jul 2012 01:14:21
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Tue, 24 Jul 2012 01:35:49
Wow I guess you did not like it all that much, I'm enjoying it so far.
Tue, 24 Jul 2012 04:33:43
Very well written. Write more reviews please, I love reading them.
Tue, 24 Jul 2012 05:38:03
Thanks Happy I do plan on doing more.
Tue, 24 Jul 2012 10:57:46
Love the dedication meter idea. I wish more reviews would have it. Game looks like it's not for me.
Tue, 24 Jul 2012 12:18:03
Finished? Good, now play that OTHER game!  Cool
Tue, 24 Jul 2012 15:23:51
I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is another one of those "get out of it what you put into it" games.

Although I agree with a lot of your points, I feel the need to mention some of my own.

--I don't know why you had such money troubles. I have had over 550,000+ at one time and don't find obtaining gold all that difficult. I am the kind of person that tries to pick up everything I can carry, so I can sell it.

--That being said, I have around 12 ferry-stones in my possession right now. I carry two with me at all times so I can decide if I want to walk back or not! It's the wake-stones I wish I could find more of!

--Doing the Quarry side-quest opens a direct route from Central Gransys to Southern Gransys. Do that as soon as you can and you'll find travel faaar less tedious. I also plan on moving that portable ferry-stone marker from that structure in the north-east, to the Healing Spring in the north (by the Blighted Manse), as that seems to be the half-way point between everything in the North.

--The affinity system does have it's uses; it's just not as pronounced as in other games (Persona). Other than the weird relationship thingee at the end of the game I have heard about (but not yet experienced), affinity is used more for additional side-quests, item acquisition and shop discounts. I would have to play again to confirm, but I also believe that whom you choose to accompany in the first few escort quests in the beginning of the game --ALSO-- changes the story a bit... Mercedes, Julien and those guys, for example.

--I guess playing as an Archer has its disadvantages... While playing as a Mystic Knight, one of the Mace & Sword skills you can acquire is a Magic Cannon. This makes you summon a sphere and if you strike that sphere with your weapon, magic bolts fly out in the direction you are facing. These bolts auto-track your enemies! Magic spells for the most part auto-track also... I guess for the Archer class they don't. I've actually been annoyed at times that the targeting is too easy!

--The Pawn system? Totally disagree there. The dynamics of the game change completely depending on how you use your pawns. If you have enough Rift Crystals you can hire someone twice your level and let them do the fighting while you hang back. You can hire pawns around the same level as you to balance your party and make the game much more action oriented. You can hire Mages to act as defense and healers for your Fighter class, or hire Fighters to be the muscle for your mage class. Means the difference between being at the front of the battle or leading the battle from the rear and playing more tactically. I also LOVE how your own Pawn can be hired out online, then come back with enough Quest and Monster knowledge to not only tell you how to defeat certain enemies, but downright LEAD you to your quest objectives or give you specific advice on what to do... Completely innovative!

--I do wish there were more enemies. They are so detailed and so interesting to fight at times, I just wish there were more. According to a few of Capcom's big-wigs there's going to be significant DLC add-ons coming soon. I hope the bestiary is expanded on in these add-ons.

--Strangely, I haven't noticed pop-in... Slowdown, yes, does occur when there's a lot of magic effects going off on screen. The larger monsters and the environment can be completely beautiful at times too!

--That's all I can think of for now, so I will leave you with this: LENORE!!!  Nyaa

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 17:22:23
Yeah, what Leo said. Nyaa
Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:01:46
- The number is to provide context for the relative expense of a ferry stone.  An alternative would be that I never purchased a piece of equipment more than 100,000.  I could have had more if I sold off a bunch of crap.  The primary point is that they're scarce and expensive.

- I did the quarry quest.  Traveling sucks.

- More side-quests I don't count as doing anything.  Shop discounts are again for doing quests.  The only affect despite acquiring high affinity was that stupid ending

- They autotrack after fired.  The lock-on was the problem.

- Yeah... any party system in any RPG ever has a mix of classes.  Hiring higher levels is just a way to make the game easier.

Two things not mentioned: Hired pawns don't level up with you.  Also by default Capcom throws in advertisements for DLC in the tutorial popups that are on by default.  Thanks for the "tutorial".

I "put in" completing the entire game, including many sidequests and pursued all aspects of the game.  It's not my fault that the execution is subpar.
Sat, 16 Feb 2013 03:35:40
This kills it for me:
"An example of the problem of having to basically walk everywhere (10+ minute treks are not uncommon),"
Sat, 16 Feb 2013 21:10:36
Nice review, love the format.
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