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Dragon’s Dogma hands-on preview (TGS)

By Janelle | September 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

Capcom’s booth at TGS this year was showy as usual, and its upcoming Dragon’s Dogma was playable in a dungeonlike corner crowned with a giant red dragon. Not only did I get to play both parts of the Dragon’s Dogma demo, I also had the opportunity to watch a stage show that had some interesting footage buried in the onstage antics.

The stage show gave a glimpse into some parts of the game not available in the demo. The hosts went through the process of creating a character’s appearance, and all the ways it could be customized. The size, color, style and position of different facial features can be selected, as well as things like posture and body type. The hosts had a lot of fun making their female character’s breasts as large as possible, which was actually a rather modest size as far as video game heroine bust sizes go. Honestly, the character creation bit was neat, but it’s not anything revolutionary: players have seen better in older games like The Sims 2.

Then there was a brief shot of the game’s beginning: soldiers show up in the heroine’s tiny fishing village, with a proclamation from the king about recruiting people to slay a great dragon. Right on cue, the dragon shows up and starts destroying things, so the heroine takes up a sword and begins to fight the dragon. After that, there was a cut to much later in the game, where our leading lady had become a proficient mage. The player walked her around a town that reminded me of something from The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, buying equipment and equipping it from a menu that also reminded me of something from Oblivion. It seems like the player can take quests to slay monsters, much like a booming action series also by Capcom.

The stage show ended, and I finally tried my hand at the demo. There were two parts, one featuring a Fighter-class hero, and the other a Strider-class hero, which is basically some kind of ranger. The two had the same basic combat controls, but vastly different special abilities. The Strider had a bow, while the Fighter could block or club enemies with his shield. The combat itself felt fresh, without being too button-mashy, and it did a great job avoiding the 3-hit-combo rut that many action game controls fall into. The two monsters, a griffon and chimera, had unpredictable attack patterns that changed as they grew more injured or got set on fire. These monsters could even be grabbed onto and stabbed, Shadow of the Colossus style.

One thing I really loved about the combat in Dragon’s Dogma is the ally support. Your allies attack intelligently, take out monsters on their own well enough without you, and even initiate team-ups with you. When an ally can help you pull off some kind of action-movie maneuver or vice versa, he will glow silver. If you reach them in time and perform a required action, the special action will occur, and without a whole lot of cinematic fanfare. It doesn’t break the flow of battle at all; time only slows down a little while an ally yells a cue to you so you don’t miss the opportunity. There are all sorts of team-ups: an ally might let you leap off of his back to boost you high into the air to fight an aerial enemy, or you could grab an enemy so a nearby ally can stab it in the face. I hope that sounds fun to pull off, because it totally is.

Dragon’s Dogma is heading for store shelves in spring 2012. Based on the demo, it looks like an action-heavy, customization-light monster slaying funfest, so keep an eye on it, if that’s your thing.

Topics: Dragon's Dogma, Tokyo Game Show 2011