Thursday, November 30, 2000

Panzer Dragoon Saga | 9.5

Not many people have heard about this game. I know I didn't up until a couple of years ago. I didn't even think twice about the SEGA Saturn being much of a system to be recognized... until I found this.

First off, the bad: because this game was made over ten years ago, the graphics are... well, "ugly" is a nice way of putting it. It's not the worst I've seen, but certainly not the best. Once you get past the eye-sore that the graphics could be for you, then there's the combat mechanics, which are rather tricky to get used to at first, especially with the regular controller. I would highly suggest getting a "3D" controller for this game, because it practically demands it. Finally, many of the characters just don't have a lot of growth, save for the main cast.

That all said, the good heavily outweighs the bad. For starters, the story: the fact that, for an RPG that only goes for 22 hours max (and that's assuming you get really, badly stuck), the storyline and the characters are all phenomenal, and even somewhat human! A bit cliché, granted, but not horribly so. You truly feel connected to your character in this world. Even your sworn enemy ends up becoming a character that one can sympathize with. Next, I mentioned that the combat controls are a bit tricky to get used to... however, once you get them down, it's mostly a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes, it almost makes boss battles a little too easy, but never loses its fun factor.

Finally, the flow is absolutely spot-on. There's no seeking out items for long hours on end, no hidden "good" endings that must be unlocked by doing a certain little dance, no nearly-impossible battles where you needed a single item that you had to get back in the second area of the game, and can't get now. And although there is a bit of backtracking, each time you go back, there's more to be found - much like the Metroid game. Everything flows together very nicely.

So in conclusion, yes, I would recommend this to anyone willing to pay the money. It's a fun game with decent pacing that is a vast departure from it's peers - and still manages to be one of the best I've ever experienced.

- points off, because it was 1. Hardest RPG ever. 2.) the 3D graphics looked more blocky than PS1. Good usage of both SH-2s however. They should call the Saturn the first dual-core computer in a mainstream costumer product.

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