Now we have the mighty power of the Xbox behind the game so fingers crossed we should expect huge things.
Basically you are on the back of a powerful and loyal dragon. Using this dragon you fight your way through countless enemies mostly in the air and on the ground, and this is how the game is set out, not in levels, but Episodes. Well OK they are actually levels really, but they obviously thought episodes sounded grander so episodes it is.
So a little bit of the story. You are Orta, a girl who is imprisoned as is illustrated from the intro movie. She is freed by a dragon which you are about to fly and subsequently use to battle through the levels, oops I mean episodes. Each episode provides a little more history and information about Orta as she is as clueless as you are about her origins.
For those who haven’t played any of the Panzer Dragoon games it is basically a shoot em up world in a 360 degree view. Using the right and left triggers you reveal the sides and behind your dragon. This is because enemies come from everywhere in the gaming area and you have to frantically rotate your view to keep the enemies in your sight, otherwise you will be left with very little health as you are pounded from all sides.
The enemies themselves range from mechanical objects shooting missiles, other dragons and huge stonking ships that pose quite a significant threat. You can have many enemies on screen at once attacking you so quick reactions are a must. You also have to contend with the end of episode boss. These are no walk over on the harder settings and also take quite a lot of shooting and manoeuvring to take them down.
Your dragon though is no simple chicken that flies with a laser strapped to its back, Oh no. Instead your dragon can shoot multiple targets at once with the lock on by holding down the ‘A’ Button and moving the cursor over the enemies before they dart off screen. By releasing the button a flurry of fire power is unleashed.
If this isn’t enough the dragon can also morph into two other dragons which possess slightly different speeds and strength of weaponry.
It is essential to play around with the morphing mode to see which dragon suits the environment and also which you feel is the most comfortable to your playing style.
Graphically the game is a visual marvel with gorgeous lighting effects and all sorts of other Xbox trickery. Episode 2 in particular features a lovely waterfall which you pass under and you can watch as the enemy on the other side is visually distorted by the water passing down beside you, truly lovely. Particle effects, smoke and nice quality textures all help make this game a stunner.
Every Episode offers something different visually, but come on now you haven’t got time. Don’t make my first mistake and sit looking at the marvellous graphics while you are being shot at vigorously, so get shooting. Unfortunately the game does only offer as it has always done, and that is shooting. Some people may find this boring by reading this, but at least give this game a go. With such brilliant graphics and sound and addictive gameplay even though it is only shooting. trust me you won’t have time to be bored. The game episodes are magical, mystical, imaginative and extremely colourful. This game really takes you to another world and immediately immerses you in the story.
Sound is another major achievement. The music is still very Panzer Dragoon style with it’s epic music playing along. If you needed a reason to buy 5.1 Dolby Digital, this game is yet another showcase for the Xbox to convince you to at least consider the upgrade if you haven’t done so already. With enemies constantly flying around you the sound of them zipping around provides an earful of delights.
With 10 Episodes it sounds pretty short and indeed it is if you play on the easy setting, but ramp it up a little and a hardcore shooter is presented with everything you need to pass the time away. After completion of the game you can access extras such as being able to play the very first Panzer Dragoon game and access to extra missions. There is also a lot of information about the Panzer Dragoon world if you can be bothered to read it all.
Rating: 4.5 / 5