All About Jorlen
Dragon's Dogma is the best surprise in gaming I've had all year. I hadn't even heard of it until a few months before release, and I was immediately interested. I'm ashamed to admit that as a grown man, I counted the days before this game was released, and then booked a day off work so I could play it. And play it I did, all day, and I really haven't stopped playing it since.
What makes this brilliant game so special is it's mix of elements and how well they all adhere together, and of course; the combat. The combat in this game puts in the ACTION in an action/rpg. There is no level scaling, but the world is larlgely open for exploration, so you can just go out exploring with a real sense of danger. While I am not against level scaling, it's refreshing to experience something different that works just as well, if not better in some cases.
You won't just fight wee monsters and then get the occasional boss.
It shows that the developers involved worked on games such as monster hunter and devil may cry. You'll run into random monsters that are uhm... quite large, and difficult to take down. You may even have to turn tail and run away, to come back later when you're more powerful. Oh, did I mention this game doesn't exactly hold your hand, and isn't easy? While not being as punishingly difficult as say, Dark Souls, it won't forgive your incompetence if you don't setup your pawns properly, or don't strategize when fighting big groups, or big groups and their big monsters, all at once (yay!).
What this does of course, is something lacking in a lot of video games lately... It makes you think, and it makes you learn from your mistakes. You know what that does too, though? It gives you a true sense of reward, knowing you botched the first attempt, but then learned, came back, and triumphed. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't happen all the time, at least it hasn't to me. Just enough to keep on my toes and make me learn how to play the game properly. I'd have to say the difficulty so far, is perfect, which is no small compliment.
There's a lot to talk about, but you don't have all day, and I'd rather get back to playing the game than writing a bible about it, so I'll talk about what I like the best. Apart from the combat, which is some of the best I've played since Demon's souls / Dark Souls, I have to talk about pawns.
After you play with pawns for a while, it makes sense, but it may be difficult to grasp at first. You have one pawn that you design, equip and level up as you see it. This pawn is always with you, levels at the same time you do and essentially belongs to you. When you go online with Dragon's Dogma, this pawn gets uploaded to their servers, and other people can choose to use him or her in their adventures as a hired gun, so to speak. So you have your main pawn, and you can hire two more, for a total team of four (including yourself). Hired pawns don't level, but you can select higher level pawns if you have enough RC points. You gain RC points by having your own pawn hired and used. So the better you design, equip and level up your pawn and it's skills, the more it will get used, and the more RC points you'll earn, so you can rent higher level aids that really kick ass.
Get a nose bleed yet? Nah, it's not that bad, just difficult to grasp because it's such a novel concept. But you know what? It works, and it's so much fun!
So basically, it is a single player game, but with multiplayer-lite elements. I really enjoy the idea of being able to hand-pick my team from what other people have designed and nurtured. I am very impressed with Japanese developers as of late. Demon's souls, Dark Souls and now Dragon's Dogma. All are unique, although ironically western-themed, and offering something to gamers completely new concepts meshed with ones that traditionally come from North American developers. I'll warn you now - the opening menu track is Japanese pop-rock, but luckily that's most of it
Dragon's Dogma has a lot more going than it's combat and pawn system though. The skill and class system is also a breath of fresh air. At first, you select one of three classes (fighter / mage / strider) and earn what is essentially job levels. As you level up, you earn ranks in this class, which opens up more skills and augments. The fun thing is, you can change vocations and carry over your augments (passive bonuses basically) from one class to the next. There are 9 classes available, with a few hybrids such as the magic archer and mystic warrior. So for people like me who love to respec and try all the classes, the game basically encourages it, and because you can carry your passives from one to the next, it actually gives you a huge advantage!
Graphically, the game looks great. I will warn you of one of my biggest turn-offs though; letterbox bars on the top and bottom. I can't fathom why this was put in. If it was for performance, they should have taken another approach. Luckily, you get used to it and they aren't that intrusive, but still, it's extremely unorthodox. Despite this, the open world looks amazing in the daylight and the draw distance is generous. At night, the lighting effects are some of the best I've ever seen in a game and really put you in the atmosphere. Oh, did I mention that at night, it's actually really dark? If you're outside, without a lantern, you're basically screwed. Additionally, different and usually meaner monsters come out to play at night, giving the night time a true foreboding feeling.
Another nice thing about this game is how it rewards you for exploring and going off the beaten path. I spent about 2 hours last night just walking around and checking stuff out. Of course, I ended up running into a strange area, and my pawns started saying stuff like, "this place has an odd feel to it" and I just knew that meant something big was going to happen, and it did. A massive golem spawned and it took me a while to figure out that I had to actually jump on it's back and hack at it's vulnerable spots before taking it down. And afterwards, in the vicinity, I found one of the best weapons that cannot be purchased; a sword that's always on fire, and you'll learn early on that fire in this game is powerful.
Anyways, back to playing the game!
Seems to me like Diablo III is taken quite seriously by a lot of gamers. I was told I was "close-minded" amongst other things when flatly told some of my colleagues that I wasn't buying it based on two things: a) I avoid persistent-online games and b) I don't support games with cash shops or real money purchases, etc.
I just shrugged it off and told them they can buy what they want, it's not like my sale (or lack thereof) will break Blizzard's bank... But these guys were almost offended by my response! Giving the situation some thought afterwards, I realized that a lot of people get on the defensive when I tell them I'm not buying it. And mind you, I'm not even bashing it. I'm just saying very plainly, that I'm not getting it, and for those aforementioned reasons. A few facebook friends of mine reacted in a similar fashion as well, which surprised me.
As a die hard fan of Diablo I and II, and basically any lootfest ARPG ever created to date on every platform you can imagine, a lot people are surprised at my behavior... But every gamer has to have a code, and mine shall not waver. If a game I feel should be playable single player, and isn't (regardless of the publisher's reasoning), I simply pass on it. I also frown upon cash shop or in app purchases most of the time. I realize game publishers are there to make money, but guess what? I'm also there to decide whether or not I will buy said game; it's that simple. It's my choice, and there are TONS of good games out there waiting for my hard earned dollar.
While I agree that my approach may be close-minded, I never once assumed it was going to be a bad game. Despite there being no original devs who worked on Diablo I or II on this project, Blizzard isn't in the habit of releasing bad games, and I don't see this as being the exeption.
What's your take on it?
It's finally here.
Sure, I could have played on PC in 2009, but I didn't feel like it. Because my PC is connected to my TV and using a PC on a couch blows.
Anyhow - I've had my eye on the 360 release for quite some time and instantly bought it when I found it out was released. I then spent the next 4 hours straight playing it and it's bloody awesome. If I may offer one recommendation though - play it on VERY HARD if you want a challenge, or even hard core (permadeath). Otherwise it feels too easy. Even on very hard, if you have a brain, it's not SUPER challenging but still tough enough to be fun and kill you if you get too lazy / overconfident.
Then I wondered - why is this the only randomly generated dungeon crawler featuring tons of loot on the xbox 360 to date? Sure, there's titles like Sacred 2 (which I've played 300+ hours of) and Deathspank (couldn't get into that one) - but how is it that this is the first diablo-style loot whoring dungeon crawler released on current gen consoles!? Myself and many other included have been waiting for a game such as this for so long, that I almost gave up. It's rather funny that the only diablo-style (read random levels) to hit the next-gen consoles actually has team members that were on the original diablo project!
As you may or may not be aware, Runic games completely revamped the interface and controls for the console (obviously this was needed as a point and click scheme wouldn't work). What I like about the xbox 360 version of Torchlight, much like Sacred 2, is that the action is much more involved. You don't just click on an enemy and hold down a mouse button. You control your guy manually, go in the enemy's face and hit/hold X. It gives it a much better "actiony" feel to it.
Everything else about the port is great, with the exception of some frame rate / game slow-downs if there's a lot of monsters on the screen at once, but these have been fairly rare.
No sense in trying to convince anyone to buy this - it's a live arcade title which means it has a free trial, so I will try to convince you to TRY IT OUT NOW
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