Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB rating: Mature
Review rating: 3.5 stars
Last year, Capcom released an enjoyable and challenging Western-style action RPG called "Dragon's Dogma." Now an expansion titled "Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen" has been released that also includes the original game. Players who are new to the series as well as seasoned veterans can expect a difficult challenge in this dark and scaly fantasy realm.
Warriors have been called heartless since the dawn of time, but the hero of this game has literally had his heart ripped out by a ferocious dragon! After defeating the evil threat in the original game, players are now tasked with venturing below ground into the dismal dungeon known as Bitterback Isle to defeat more than 25 new types of enemies and discover new treasures.
The unusual Pawn system, which gives players access to computer-controlled party members, returns in this expansion. Up to three Pawns can accompany the player's hero, and they are fully customizable. It's amusing and sometimes helpful to hear Pawns offer player advice on fighting tough bosses, but they can be very repetitive and sometimes don't follow their own advice.
Thankfully, the combat found in this title is both intuitive and unpredictable. There are few, if any, enemies that are easy to defeat, and players always have to be aware of new enemies entering battle. This can dramatically change the course of combat and make average fights very difficult.
Speaking of which, the final areas of this game are extremely challenging and don't seem to ... err ... scale properly with previous areas. It doesn't help that Pawns can act helpful one moment and detrimental the next. Add a constant slew of immobilizing or poisonous afflictions caused by enemies, and the result may very well be a broken TV screen.
"Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen" has it's fair share of flaws, but persistent players will be rewarded with the knowledge that they're a virtual dragon-slayer.