Thursday, April 5, 2012


by Square Enix
Platform:   PlayStation2
3.7 out of 5 stars(34)

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It's good to see RPG master Square Enix take a risk on a completely different type of game, and it's even better to see that its new title is – sort of – a success. Drakengard has been (with good cause) called "Dynasty Warriors with dragons," and that basic concept has yielded interesting, yet flawed, results.

Drakengard is the story of Caim (Kyme in the Japanese version), a Union soldier at war with the evil Empire (which fortunately has no Death Star or Sith Lords). In an effort to save his sister, the Goddess of the Seals, he is fatally wounded and must make a pact with a dragon to survive. As both Caim and the Dragon, the player takes on the nearly endless soldiers of the Empire.

The quest features three different types of gameplay, which switch at fairly regular intervals. The first is melee combat, in which Caim slashes his way through simple, bloody ground combat. These stages are quite familiar to anyone who has played Koei's Dynasty Warrior games, and are incredibly simplistic. Combat solely involves one button, as does magic. This is hack n' slash gameplay at its most basic. It's fun, but lacks any semblance of depth.

The remaining two modes feature the dragon as the central figure. The first is aerial combat, in which the player flies around, breathing fire at anything that moves. These stages are short and simple, but get progressively harder as the story continues. The final, and most dynamic, mode is strafing, in which the dragon flies low over ground troops, raining flaming death down upon them. At any time, Caim can jump down off the dragon to engage in melee combat, which is often necessary to complete the stage. Certain enemies are immune to dragon fire, while others are hard to hit, thanks to the dragon's lack of agility.

All three of the gameplay styles feature fairly detailed graphics, and the cutscenes are of classic Square quality. There could have been a few more enemy types, but the endless hordes of troops still look great. The pop up is pretty terrible, but considering the amount of figures onscreen at most times, it's more or less excusable. The framerate is also mostly constant, slowing during only a few instances of particularly frenzied air combat.

Between the three modes, Drakengard stays fairly fresh, as the action always switches at the right moment. However, none of the three are really that new or exciting on its own. But combined with some sharp graphics and some rudimentary RPG elements, the gameplay offers up enough to recommend this title to fantasy buffs or Square Enix devotees. Yes, it's simple and not terribly original, but it does provide plenty of fast-paced action and some solid visuals. As action games go, you could do much worse.

Bust some medieval heads as both a fierce warrior and an even fiercer dragon

Easily the high point of the title, everything is detailed and sharp, although sparse

Prepare to be annoyed – there are only a few background tunes and the voice-acting is straight out of a renaissance festival

Can you push the square button? Then you can play this

The combination of flying, strafing, and melee modes still results in a somewhat stale dish

Moderately Low

Rated: 7.5 out of 10
Editor: Jeremy Zoss
Issue: March 2004

2nd Opinion:
Drakengard is Square Enix's answer to Koei's Dynasty Warriors series. Whether by blade or by your dragon's fiery breath, the blood of hundreds (perhaps thousands) will stain your hands in each mission that you enter. While I did find the hack n' slash element to be satisfactory, this is by no means a solid-playing game. The mission objectives are annoying at best, and the dragon flying mechanics are horribly designed. If you thought Dynasty Warriors had a lot of pop-up, believe me when I say that you haven't seen anything yet. Even with sparsely detailed environments, enemy troops seemingly appear out of nowhere. Square usually excels in the graphical department, but Drakengard's visuals look like big, stinky dragon butt. I'm a sucker for leveling up and gaining new powers, yet even with a healthy dose of these elements, I wanted nothing more than to permanently shelve this game.

Rated: 6 out of 10
Editor: Andrew Reiner

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Known as Drag-On Dragoon in Japan, Drakengard is a dragon-themed action game with roleplaying elements. Drakengard tells the story of the soldier Caim as he fights to save his kidnapped sister from the clutches of the evil Empire. He cannot do it alone, however, so he joins his soul with that of a dragon to combine powers and set out on their way to defeat the enemy and solve the mysteries of the dragon. Mixing gameplay from such titles as Panzer Dragoon Saga, Dynasty Warriors, and Final Fantasy, the game allows its players to fight on the ground and in the air -- with full range of movement and over 60 weapons and attacks to exploit.

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