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The Arisen's in the line of fire; GAME OF THE WEEK DRAGON'S DOGMA (PS3).

HUGE fire-breathing dragons don't get much love. Sure, the big lizards might burn down the odd fishing village and gobble up a few fair maidens for elevenses - but they're probably a little narked that blokes in armour are always trying to stick them with the pointy end of their swords.

In Dragon's Dogma a scaly behemoth does indeed wreak havoc. In a terrific opening scene, a dragon turns up at an idyllic town, offs a load of natives and takes the heart of our protagonist, gobbling it up right in front of him/her.

Still alive, you play as The Arisen and are tasked to save the kingdom from terror and destruction.

Capcom's latest has been in development a long time and you can tell. It's an ambitious undertaking - an open-world fantasy RPG epic with lots to do and so much more to explore.

It might not be all that original but it builds on solid foundations to create something new that even challenges the mighty Skyrim in some areas.

So once you have chosen and designed your character, and had your heart ripped out, it's time to rustle up a happy band of followers.

These are called pawns. They're vital in your quests - as long as you hire the right ones with the right skills. Indeed, the pawn system is one of the best things about the game (your new mates do talk way too much, though).

Also in need of a tip of the hat is the design and an excellent battle system that makes it thoroughly enjoyable to take on a host of other-wordly creatures that want to wear your head as a hat.

Dragon's Dogma is also a proper challenge, even for the hardened gamer. This isn't a criticism, just a heads-up. I doubt you'll be finishing this over a weekend.

Alas, the game struggles to live up to the drama of the first five minutes. The plot goes missing for extended periods of time as you go on countless sub-quests that seem to have little to do with your overall aim.

And while the action is full-on and often exciting, having to fend off wave after wave of gribblies can get a little tiresome.

Simply put, there's a lot of dogma before you get to the dragon.

But by all accounts it's worth getting to the end as an 'insane' finale awaits. I haven't got there yet, however, as I'm still leading my followers down the wrong path, no doubt.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 27, 2012
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