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- Dragon's Dogma
Every dogma has its day.
As other high-profile publishers and developers, Capcom has reacted to the struggling economy by relying on its popular franchises; in this instance, creating multiple versions of Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Dead Rising 2. But even Capcom knows that focusing on its former successes doesn't secure its future growth. So arrives its new IP, Dragon's Dogma, an innovative, single-player title that can be described as a combination of Dark Souls, Lord of the Rings, and Dragonheart. Intrigued?
Disrupting the peaceful fishing village of Casadeis, a dragon swoops into the town, razing it to the ground, but before it leaves, it tells you that you're the chosen one and, in an ancient ritual (that I can only hope is voiced over by Sean Connery), forcefully takes your heart out. Instead of dying, though, you reawaken as an aptly named "Arisen", who strangely has the almighty power to command human-like Pawns from the rift dimension. Yeah, it's a bit of a heavy-handed way to incorporate fantasy and NPC party members into the plot, but at the very least, it's meant to peak your curiosity and motivate you into figuring out what the hell is going on. And to kill that scaly, fire-ass, son-of-a-lizard scum.
Dragon's Dogma doesn't go for the old-school challenge of Dark Souls, though it's still a fantasy third-person hack-'n'-slash with an open world populated by forsaken ruins and monstrous giants just waiting to be killed for loot, experience points, and glory (and wow, that's actually kinda mean, but they all attacked first). It also begins by allowing you to mold your character however you like, including gender, face, chest size (oh my), scarring, personality traits, class, and body type.
Smaller types tend to suit the ranger and mage class better due to their mobility and swiftness, whereas larger types fit the fighter class better with their increased strength, allowing them to wield greatswords with ease and prevent harpies from lifting them off the ground. At higher levels, hybrid classes like the mage archer can be selected too for well-rounded builds.
Fitting well within the fantasy realm, adventuring mainly involves slaying bandits, goblins, ogres, and other foul beasts, depending on your current level and whether it's day or night. Inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, taking down golems and enemies about five or more times your size usually requires you to climb on their body and strike at their weakpoints.
The twist, of course, is that you have up to three customizable Pawns at your disposal, one of which will serve as your permanant sidekick and two others that can be recruited throughout the world. You can give them all simple commands—follow, attack, heal, and the like—and they are all infinitely revivable by your hand. This ensures that you can assemble a balanced team with both melee and magic support as well as have a buffer between you and the enemy if you need it.
As you complete story missions and accept side quests from various NPCs or the bounty board, the environment becomes more and more open until the entire world becomes accessible. Eventually, you'll have the opportunity to explore the likes of the Bluemoon Tower and any significant structure you can see in the distance.
In essence, Dragon's Dogma is Capcom's response to the emergence of open-world titles within its keen understanding of JRPGs and MMORPGs. It will indoctrinate the masses in early 2012 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.