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Drakengard is an action game developed by Square Enix for the Playstation 2. The story follows the main character a soldier called Caim, he has a hatred of dragons as his parents were brutally murdered by one but he is forced to accept a pact to bond with a Red dragon who is imprisoned by the Empire which would save both their lives, his new companion is quite a good fit as she shares a dislike of humans. With a power dragon as his ally he fights against the Empire that killed his parents. The story is really compelling and it has a satisfying conclusion and twists along the way and you will definitely be shocked when you find out who was really controlling the empire. The game is paced with both on foot missions and missions where you can ride your dragon, the on foot gameplay is reasonable and allows you to unleash some sword attacks as you cut down the soldiers of the empire, you do have some variety to the game as you can collect different weapons and use magic attacks to spice things up. It can become repetitive however as you are on foot for most of the game. The in air missions are the most fun the game offers, you can race into the air on your powerful dragon burning foes to a crisp, you feel immensely powerful and it is super satisfying to annihilate foes with your dragon. To prevent the game from becoming too easy you do have some boss encounters on your dragon which are really epic and fun. The game also has multiple ending depending on how you perform in the missions and how many of the bonus missions you have completed so there is a reason to hop right back on your dragon and carry on frying foes! Graphics are very good for a Playstation 2 game with good dragon animations, battlefields can be a bit dull but this is because they are so vast in scale. There are also some excellent CG cutscenes. An excellent action game, you can tell Square had a hand in the game though because of the excellent storyline and CG work.
This game caught my interest mainly because of the main character and the big dragon, since then I wanted to play it. It is quite a fun game but it can get extremely hard later on. The game allows you to fight on foot as the character where you can wipe out armies of enemies, the majority of the time this is how I played, I preffered using the character more than the dragon, however sometimes the dragon was needed and was a great way to escape dangerous situations. It saved my back a few times when I was close to dying. You can use the dragon to fly away to safety and use it to wipe out many enemies at once by targetting large groups and burning them with fire. Unfortunatly sometimes the AI is not that great, however it is still fun, it does get quite repetative after a while but I would still recommend you to try this game, you may like it, you may hate it but definatly give it a shot!
This game allows you to play as several different characters, each with their own class of weapons and magic. The game takes place in several different environments including vast open spaces, towns and villages, caves and in the air (see below) The main character that you play makes a pact with a dragon and they effectively become one. If one of them dies, then so does the other. You play two paths throughout the story of the game, one on the ground with your character who is handy with a sword and other weapons; and in the air, riding on the back of your new best friend breathing fire upon enemies on the ground as well as air targets. When playing a ground mission, you can call upon your dragon, Legna, to aid you which is quite cool. All of this provides quite a good experience in the gameplay department. Unfortunately this cannot be said for others. The graphics are the opposite of what you would expect from square-enix (who bought us final fantasy and dragon quest) They are blocky and has the worst case of pop-ups i have ever seen, ie, when you are running, a massive building, mountain or what ever will just appear before you instead of fading in like in most games. Also, your attacks are very limited as there are very few combinations meaning you are always swinging your sword in the same three directions all of the time... Overall, if you can put up with these mishaps then there is quite a fun game to be found here.
So what do you get when you take mad generic story line, painful to listen to wretched music, linear as hell gameplay, voice acting that could have been done via computer synth, and mentally challenged AI? You may realize that my next word is Drakengard. If you did, you are correct. I was impressed by the visuals at the beginning of this game, but the cinematic clips aside, everything else about it is so below par I often have to restart the game to make sure that Square-Enix actually had some kind of involvement with the project. They did, oh my god, they did! If I were Square-Enix, honestly i'd have taken off my logo and handed full rights to any other gaming company who would have wanted to have the burden of this monstrosity. Let's start off with the gameplay. You, Caim, a warrior who is driven by anger *said ENOUGH TIMES by the dragon, because heaven knows, nothing makes a statement more dramatic then by repeating it TO EVERYBODY YOU SEE!" are to go off and protect the goddess from being overburdened by protecting the seals. The 3 seals in the game which shouldn't be broken or some serious hell breaks loose do get broken, and get this, the last seal, the goddess, doesn't even have to be killed. "No, the very burden of being the last surviving seal will kill her!" Honestly? She's going to be stressed out? Well that's not cool at all. I mean hell, plant an arrow in her throat, insult her mother until she dies, but destroy a bunch of seals and stand back while she breaks doesn't seem like a very unique way of killing somebody. And now branching a bit into story, that's about the ONLY thing which has any kind of unique twist to it. The rest of the story elements are so damn forgettable and generic you often find yourself going "this is where he turns evil right... THAR!" "I wish upon myself strength!" *eyes glow red* At this point I find my controller is hurtling towards the wall at speeds any professional baseball player would envy. Cliche after cliche after cliche. There is a difference between classic and cliche, and Drakengard does everything to show you that there is a difference, and that cliche is it's forte. The enemy AI is also horrible. They are literally standing around waiting for you to approach them, effectively killing any kind of submersion you might find yourself getting into, and you never actually fight alongside your comrades, who are by the way constantly screaming "LORD CAIM, HURRY, THEY IS EVERYWHERE!" with all the hyped up talk there is never any kind of timer, any kind of time challenge. And the music, dear GOD the music! I tell you every single song is a tragedy. I kid you not they're literally a minute of looped segments which are all the same. There was one castle level where all it was was dissonant screeching violin stabs, again and again and again, with no variety. It was like those really bad horror movies when that crazy guy is going to stab you again and again. Know the sound? Yeah, that, for the whole level, which lasts about an hour. And the voice acting. Other then the dragon whose voice talent is cynical and criticizing "oh you humans are so foolish", everybody else is over dramatic or really really just bad. I swear there was the enemies who talked to me sometimes and literally sounded like Microsoft Sam, the text to speech program that comes with Windows. The ONLY thing about this game that had potential was the massive amount of weapons available to you, and even then most of them had pretty crappy special moves, which failed to impress. No my friends, this game is the very definition of fail.
When Japanese gaming giants Squaresoft and Enix merged in April 2003 to become the company we now know as Square-Enix, there was more than a hint of surprise in gaming circles. The two companies rivalry stretched back to the eighties as their RPG franchises battled for supremacy on the NES format; Enix's Dragon Quest series bucked the role-playing trends and remains insanely popular in Japan; whilst Squaresoft's Final Fantasy games followed its lead in terms of gameplay mechanics and added complex storylines and glossy visuals for good measure as well as becoming the more-recognised of the two series worldwide. It seemed a match made in heaven for RPG fans, which makes it all the more surprising that Drakengard (one of the newly-formed Square-Enix's first releases) is such a drab affair. First released in Japan in 2003 and then a year later over here, Drakengard certainly has the right ingredients for success. It mixes the grand-scale hack 'n' slash antics of the Dynasty Warriors games and mixes them with the kind of lengthy, involved plot you would expect from its creators. As you'll discover though, neither facet of the game pays off in the end due to a host of problems. The first of Drakengard's major troubles concerns its story. It is the very epitome of the word 'forgettable' and just to prove it, I had to recap on several occasions to get a grasp of what was going on. You play as a soldier named Caim, who battles for the Union in a war against the Empire whom he so despises, as he seeks revenge for the brutal murder of his parents at the hands of enemy dragons. In an ironic twist, Caim has to make a pact with a dragon early on in the adventure to grant him the power required to tackle his enemies, but in doing so is robbed of his speech. The story then moves smoothly into 'generic' mode as you must travel around trying (and inevitably failing, as the story dictates) to prevent the destruction of three seals that would otherwise lead to Something Very Bad happening. On the way, you meet a bunch of lunatics who follow you around wittering inanely for the most part; either out-of-their-minds with grief or basking in their own unashamed insanity. Either way, the story is pretty much doomed from the off as its central character can't speak, and though the player is well aware of this discrepancy, the developers couldn't resist slipping in countless cut-scene shots of Caim doing nothing with ....... next to his mug-shot. His pact-beast, a red-dragon, does much of the talking for him, and whilst several characters preach to Caim as to the wrongs of slaughtering thousands of troops, none actually try to stop him. Things aren't helped by the voice-acting, which ranges from just-about-average (the red dragon) to really quite awful (everyone else); shouting or wailing theatrically and generally doing their best to irritate though the script is hardly Oscar-worthy either. Gameplay-wise, things fare at least slightly better. The battlegrounds are often large in scale and varied in appearance, usually containing hundreds of enemies to tackle. The controls are not too bad either; they're responsive enough and easy to pick up, though a proper strafe feature would have helped. As mentioned earlier, the 'on-foot' sections work a little like a simplified version of Dynasty Warriors; there's the odd combo you can string together and a magic attack, though for the most part you'll just be pummelling the square button. Caim can also jump, though quite why this feature was included I can't fathom, as he seems unable to negotiate even the smallest of obstacles. Whilst fans of Dynasty Warriors may derive some enjoyment, Drakengard comes across as a lot less polished in comparison. Sadly, even for a game of this ilk, there is no vision or variety to the gameplay. More or less without exception, each mission simply requires you to kill specific enemies marked on the map. Despite cries for urgency from your allies, there are never any time-based missions to crank up the tension either (sixty minutes is the default for each level). A great deal of the enemies look alike and few stray far from the stereotypical knight/magician/soldier formula and there has been little attempt to create a true feeling of battle, as you never fight alongside allies at any point and all opposing forces simply await your arrival before deciding to attack. As the right analogue stick is more or less redundant, you can't manually swing the camera back around to behind Caim if it goes wandering, which is infuriating at times as you have to remain still for a few seconds waiting for it to move itself, normally resulting in you taking unnecessary damage from an unsighted foe. There are perhaps two notable innovations within Caim can morph into the form of one of his allies for a short period of time, allowing you to cause as much damage as possible before returning to his normal form, and secondly, you can mount the dragon during outdoor missions, shooting balls of fire at the hapless soldiers who await below. Much like in an RPG, Caim and the dragon can gain experience points from felling enemies, though its rather half-hearted as the only change to Caim comes in the form of a slight increase in the capacity of his health-bar. A genuine plus-point is the absolutely mammoth selection of weapons that can be unlocked maces, swords, axes, spears and so forth, each with their own attributes and unique magic-attack, and each of the sixty-odd available can be upgraded with use. There are a few 'aerial' missions that see you controlling the dragon exclusively, and whilst they provide a welcome change from the missions Caim faces, they have their own troubles. The controls are awkward as there is no option to hover, meaning you're always flying at speed towards an enemy and will often glide straight past them, and this coupled with the fact the dragon has the turning circle of a tank, it makes for some frustrating manoeuvring, and the lock-on feature often proves as much a hindrance as a help. After a while it all becomes rather tedious and repetitive I never thought torching a thousand enemies with a dragon could seem so dull. What is perhaps even more surprising from a Square-Enix point-of-view is how poor Drakengard is visually. I haven't encountered such heinous pop-up since the days of the PSOne, as when you are flying the dragon, enemies will suddenly appear when you are more or less on top of them. The landscapes are also amazingly bland for the most part you'll have one or two landmarks per map and then vast expanses of grey/green nothingness. The draw-distance is also very poor you'll notice the dreaded 'misting' effects well short of the horizon. Despite all this, the presentation and menu screens have an assured quality to them and some of the FMV sequences are really, really good. In terms of sound, I've already touched upon the lacklustre voicing (not entirely unusual in gaming these days it has to be said), and whilst the music at least fits the settings, it (much like the gameplay) becomes quickly repetitious and rather grating. PEGI's 16+ age-rating reflects that some of the topics covered in Drakengard are not for the youngsters, though the actual gameplay only offers up basic blood-effects. If you do wish to persevere with the adventure then there's a lot on show. The story takes place over ten main chapters and, depending on particular decisions and achievements, can go down a number of split paths that include sub-missions and extra movies. As well as this, there's a Free Expedition mode which allows you to tackle previously unlocked stages with new objectives (don't get too excited though as its still just killing baddies!) these prove useful for gaining experience points and uncovering new weapons. If you do enjoy its simplistic nature, there's a good twenty hours or more of gameplay within. Fun in short bursts, Drakengard initially shows some promise as a hack 'n' slash/RPG hybrid but runs out of steam long before the end. Ultimately, it becomes a dull and samey experience that no amount of flowery dialogue or fancy FMV-footage can save from mediocrity. As a slasher, it is not diverse or varied enough, and as an RPG, simply doesn't capture the imagination or interest. A disappointing start to the Square-Enix union try Dragon Quest VIII or one of the Final Fantasy's to see what they are really capable of.