Drogon's Dogma, the latest from Japanese giant Capcom, is an ambitious Action-RPG. It has a free roaming open world, a deep and visceral combat system, truly epic boss battles and a genuine mean streak. On paper it looks the perfect mix of Skyrim and Dark Souls but ultimately falters in its execution.
The game begins well enough — an instructive tutorial followed by a tense boss battle. An intriguing cinematic later, you are thrown into a large, albeit generic, world. The character building is exhaustive and there is a choice between the standard Warrior, Mage and Rogue classes, with three hybrid classes becoming available at a later stage.
In your quest, you are assisted by AI-controlled party members called Pawns. You have one permanent Pawn who levels up alongside you, and two temporary pawns who are static and can be replaced as the game goes on. The pawns are useful enough, attacking and healing effectively, if you make room for the occasional lapses of the AI.
The combat system is great, as you would expect from the team behind the Devil May Cry series. The ability to climb onto the bodies of the larger bosses, like in Shadow of the Colossus, offers good strategic options. A warning — the game has a unique Japanese approach to difficulty and frequently, enemies of higher levels will tear your party to ribbons, making going off the beaten path a particularly tense experience. Get used to dying, a lot.
Graphics are good, especially the character and monster animations, which are the best of this generation. However, the rest of the art design is dull and the world doesn’t have the vibrancy and sense of wonder you would expect. The game is also missing a couple of layers of polish — graphical glitches abound, and the inventory management system forces you to click repeatedly for simple tasks.
There is an art to an open world RPG and Capcom hasn’t quite figured it out. The main quest meanders, the side quests are devoid of personality and the lack of a viable fast travel system forces you to traverse the same areas and fight the same enemies multiple times.
Dragon’s Dogma has a lot of great ideas from games that came before it but is unable to stitch them together, and is ultimately lesser than the sum of its parts.
Graphics: Great monsters
Gameplay: Good in bursts
Worth it: For RPG buffs
Final Rating: 3/5
Dirt Showdown is the boisterous young entrant in Codemaster’s successful rally driving series.
But be advised — this is no Dirt 4. The previous games were excellent off-road simulators for the racing enthusiast while Showdown is a pure arcade racer much in the vein of the Burnout games.
There are 2 key components to a racing game — the cars and the track design, and Showdown falters in both. There are no licensed cars available for most of the game modes (to allow the developer to show off extensive damage). Instead, you have your choice of fictional hot rods, muscle cars and even a funeral hearse. They look interesting and offer a lot of cosmetic customisation, but don’t feel very different to drive. The subtle lack of feedback would fool you into believing you are floating above the dirt track rather than driving on it, tyres screaming for grip.
The tracks themselves are gorgeously animated and feature many ramps to jump off and debris to burst through — making for some great thrills, but the limited track selection and recycled sections across these tracks chokes the
Thankfully, Dirt Showdown isn’t just a racing game. The Rampage and Knockout modes play out like a destruction derby — and it is in the screaming metal carnage that the game ultimately shines.
Crashing into and destroying opponents for points or knocking them off a gaming level never gets old. Play online for best results.
There are also the stunt driving modes, which are like a Tony Hawk game with cars. The game is almost too forgiving in these modes, allowing you to powerslide and spin at the touch of a button.
The graphics are top-of-line and the music is the mix of up-tempo rock/hip-hop you would expect.
However, I am dropping a half a point from the score purely for the game announcer who keeps screaming through an event, no matter what you do. Also, in one of the more sadistic design decisions in recent memory, you cannot switch him off.
As a straightforward racer Dirt Showdown doesn’t have much to offer, and is fundamentally shallow.
If you can look past the floaty physics and repeated tracks, there is fun to be had.
Gameplay: Not visceral
Worth it: Maybe
Final Rating: 3/5