I've repeatedly mentioned Dragon's Dogma as one of my most anticipated games thanks to the game's good previews and trailers. Yet, my skepticism about how Capcom will execute this ambitious western/eastern RPG is just as well documented. That said, I'm happy to report that my short demo with Dragon's Dogma was indeed a good one. The game isn't completely without fault -- this isn't a perfect world, after all -- but what's there is serviceable enough to keep my excitement as high as it needs to be until its May release.
On the plus side, the game has some great visual tech backing it. The scale of some of the enemies, such as this dragon who really only appeared to show off his fire breathing ability, is massive. Speaking of that very fire breath, the particle effects were impressive. Embers fluttered through the wobbling air, smoke bellowed and tiny fires sprouted around the blast area. Unfortunately, some of the textures still look very primitive. Awkwardly polygonal objects and noticeable tile prints were certainly present, but not too much to get too distracting. The game also had a tendency to take a performance hit if action got too hectic. Thankfully, these hitches were few and far between and it never reached "slideshow" slow.
The controls were actually the most impressive part of the demo if not only for your character's attack versatility. The functionality of the gamepad is wonderfully increased through the use of the bumpers, which modify the attack options from simply "heavy" or "light" to more weapon-specific moves. Although some of the sword moves were literally taken from Devil May Cry, others, such as the "evade strike," I believe it was called, had my character leaping back to dodge, then lunging forward to deliver an excellently animated blow to the giant Chimera monster I was fighting at the time. Oh, did I not mention the giant chimera monster? Yeah, I totally killed that thing.
While I'm on the subject of that giant chimera, and the subsequent killing of said chimera, this seems like an appropriate time to talk about the highlight of the demo: grabbing. Anyone who's seen anything about this game has probably seen this mechanic in action, whether it's the character climbing up the side of a giant snake or something much less dramatic, such as picking up a party member and throwing them across the room for no reason other than to assert my dominance over them. I should point out that the latter scenario definitely ushered in a few belly laughs, while the former was... decent. Jumping onto the chimera led to a ridiculously chaotic camera control situation, and I never felt like there was any way to properly maneuver my warrior around the monster's body. Perhaps this was simply my lack of experience with the game's controls -- I'm certainly hoping that's the case. Regardless, the fight was still fun in a "Holy crap, that thing's snake tail just bit my mage's face off," kind of way.
I'd be remiss to end this preview without mentioning another great function of the grab button: tackling harpies, those bird monsters you've probably seen from God of War. It was hilarious.
All in all, my short time with Dragon's Dogma delivered a good experience, one that I'm looking forward to expanding come this summer.