What The Heck Is 'Dragon's Dogma'?

In addition to "Dead Rising: Off the Record," Capcom revealed a second previously unannounced title at their press event last week. That title? "Dragon's Dogma." Really, "Dragon's Dogma"? Yes. That's what it's called. If it makes you feel any better, I've been assured that the title sounds way cooler in Japanese.

But what kind of game is it? Well, it's an open-world RPG with a focus on giant monster battles and squad mates. It's almost as if "Elder Scrolls" and "Monster Hunter" had one steamy, passionate night, and, 9 months later, out came "Dragon's Dogma."

It's pretty hard to say, though, just how far those similarities go, as we were only allowed you play a brief portion of the game. What we played, though, showed definite promise. One of the hooks of "Dragon's Dogma" is the game's focus on giant monster battles. The one were were allowed to play through had us attempting to take down a mythical griffin that was about the size of a short bus. Predictably the griffin preferred to fly high in the air and swoop down to attack my party of adventurers, rather than go toe to toe. Thankfully I was packing a bow and arrow and after a handful of shots to his wings, he came crashing to earth.

Once on the ground, I was able to experience another important feature of these giant monster battles. Players will be able to latch on to these massive beasts wherever they want, and can then climb to attack their weaker bits. It's not unlike "Shadow of the Colossus," albiet on a smaller scale.

Of course, once I grabbed hold, the griffin was none too thrilled and attempted to buck me off. It's here that things got a little unwieldy, as the camera and controls while you're grabbing onto a beast are still being worked out. Theoretically I could've held on as the griffin made for the sky, but I was never able to get that far off the ground.

While these giant monster battles should remind fans of "Monster Hunter," I'm pleased to say that the stilted, slow controls and animations of that franchise haven't made the jump. "Dragon's Dogma" plays more like an action game than an RPG, with swift attacks and easy-to-grasp controls. The developers behind this title are coming off of "Devil May Cry 4," so they've definitely got action game DNA running through their veins.

But what's up with that name? Well, it relates directly to the story. The hero you play apparently gets his heart stolen (literally) by a dragon, and the main quest revolves around getting it back. While on this quest, the thieving wyrm can actually communicate with you, and will teach you things about world through dragon telepathy, which totally exists. Dogma means "a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle," so these are the beliefs and principles of the dragon folk. I wonder what their stance is on gay marriage?

My brief playthrough of the game didn't really delve into the open-ended nature of the world, or the complex party system, so it's really too early to judge whether the whole package is working. The game is at least a year out and I'm sure we'll be filling in more of those blanks as time goes by. In the meantime, enjoy the insane trailer at the top of this post, and pay special attention to the crazy jester cameo, which is a definite highlight.