Thursday, 8 November 2012

Dragon's Dogma - Wolves hunt in packs!

I love Dragon's Dogma. Actually, scratch that. I ADORE Dragon's Dogma. Yes, the game which many thought would simply be yet another generic high fantasy adventure - including me - actually turned out to be a magnificent achievement by the team at Capcom.

I've just hit the 50 hour mark and for me, it stands head and shoulders above everything else I've played all year.

It's given me some of the most wonderful experiences over these last 50 hours and watching my small ragtag band of surprisingly dextrous travellers attacking monstrous beasts has given me a huge amount of pleasure.

Highlights include a gargantuan battle at dusk against a chimera, where lightning bolts, thick black tornadoes and jets of fire turned the tide in my favour; a night time battle against two hulking trolls at their makeshift camp; and an epic and nerve-shredding assault on a fort which gave the spectacle of Helm's Deep a run for its money.

Holding it all together are the wonderful visuals. There's a solidity to the world of Gransys which even the sprawling might of Skyrim fails to match and a sense of setting out on an epic adventure which so few games have managed to portray effectively.

The lighting effects are at times subtle but immensely effective - from the first grey light of day splitting the horizon, to the late afternoon sun sending golden shafts of light filtering through the trees in the heart of a deep forest. It's mesmerizing and these shifts in colour and hue help give Dragon's Dogma a spellbinding atmosphere - as does the eclectic soundtrack which ranges from rousing orchestral passages and haunting string arrangements to full-blown cock rock nonsense.

And unlike some other games where a day/night cycle simply means a change to the colour scheme, Dragon's Dogma makes tramping around at night a truly terrifying experience, sending the wary scurrying for the nearest campfire and nervously huddling together until dawn.

It's a remarkable game. It's as if director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi set out to make a western-style RPG and instead stumbled across something even better. It's like a perfect fusion of Skyrim, Monster Hunter and Dark Souls and it's magnificent.

All this and I forgot to mention the forgery shop, the barbers, the cross dressing, the creepy court jester, the seemingly endless supply of quests and the fact your trusty sidekick plays a role in other people's games online and returns home to tell you all about what they discovered - usually with a couple of mouldy apples in his pockets for his troubles. Amazing.

Here's to the next 50 hours.

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