Review by Link San
"Simply put, a great game."
If you look at the package or even at an ad, the first thing you notice is that the Sony hype machine always say 3 years in the making, over 100 staff developers, 4 game CDs, etc. Even going as far as to say that Legend of Dragoon is their FF series or beginning of their FF series. But it all comes down to whether or not the game is good. And is it?? In a word, yes. Is it the so called FF killer that will make you forget about FF8 and
such?? I don't know. You tell me.
The story starts off with our hero Dart, who's returning to his village after a few years away. Apparently, Dart was off on a trip to find the killer of his parents called the Black Monster. With little success, Dart has now returned from his long trip to the village he calls home, Seles. Just as you would know it, Dart arrives in time to see his village burned down and his childhood friend Shana kidnapped by the Empire of Sandora. Why was Shana kidnapped?? No one knows. So here the journey begins with Dart travelling to rescue Shana. Along the way he will meet up with a character by the name of Rose. Rose is apparantly a Dragoon. A person or human that have the power of a dragon and can tame a dragon. Whether it's fate or luck, it turns out that Dart too is a dragoon, in fact all the character that Dart meet along the way are somehow Dragoon too. We'll just ignore that since this is afterall a rpg game.
Now the story starts off slow but quickly picks up pace. This is one of the best developed storylines I've seen or read in a long time. What is so great about the story is the plot twist, revelations, the who's gonna die and who's gonna live. The story keeps you on your toes and guessing at every turn. The story takes a long time to unfold but it's worth it. I was caught by surprised many times in this game. Who the Black Monster was, who the real villian behind Shana's kidnapping is, and who the real villain behind that villain that behind Shana's kidnapping is. You get the idea. There's also some great sub or hidden plot lines much in the way of Squall and Laguna relationship(FF8) storyline that makes you wanting to know more but the game won't give it to you. In the end of the story, you want to learn more about the Dragoons and more about the characters themselves and what happened to them. This is a great story that cries out for a prequel more than a sequel. The only fault I have with this game is that they try so hard to jam down Shana and Dart as a couple down our throat. Worse than Rinoa and Squall. Other than that, great story. Probably the best rpg story that I have enjoyed. The ending wasn't as good as it really doesn't give you any clues to some of the unsolve mystery. Maybe a sequel is in the making?? Let's hope so.
Let's get it out of the way. A huge thumbs up on the developement of the characters. Each key characters or members of the party is developed beautifully. No one is neglected here. What is so great is that each character has a very strong background. Even some hidden secret past that will be revealed as you journey along the story. The game doesn't just reveal a character past and misfortune right away, no, it will take you a full 4 CD game journey to find out more about them. Hell, even in the last dungeon of the game does the story still devote time on revealing more of the characters past. Every single character has a small little secret about them that make great story plotlines. As stated before, there is even a strong hint of a Squall and Laguna relationship connection between two of the characters. One that goes stays unanswerd by the way. But that's what makes it so great. I always said that if you can remember all the name of the characters that feature in an rpg game, then the game has done a good job in developing their characters. I cared greatly about each one of the characters in this game. The last time I cared this much was with the FF7 characters. And I just hate it when one of my favorite character dies. First Aerith, then Gremio, and now....Nuff said.
The graphics is pretty much like FF8. You have a 3-D rendered background with detailed characters. Or detailed as a Playstation can give you. The background graphics are very good in this game. At the beginning you don't really notice much as there's hardly any CG/FMV or any spectacular spells. As the game progresses down to the third disc, then you start to notice the graphics even more. The spells or Dragoon magic spell are spectacular. The FMV/CG are good too but nothing that you haven't seen before. The game really goes all out on dragoon magic spells or item spells. The downside is that this game really lack FMV/CG. Yes there are some or lots but most of them are way too short or go by so fast that you don't really see anything at all. None that gives you a lasting impression anyways. Most of the impression of the graphics comes from background graphics and dragoon spells. A game that has 4 CD's should at least have some major FMV/CG that says" hey this is why this game is 4 CD's long." Which is what this game doesn't do.
MUSIC/VOICE OVERS/Score: 8/10
Music wise, very good. Not as rich as say FF8 or so but good nevertheless. Some of the tunes are really nice. My personal favorite is the Bale Town tune. The drawback is that there's really not alot of tune selection. I think about 8 or 9 tunes in total. I could be wrong though. Still you need to have more music tune for a 4 CD game.
As voice over goes, this is one of the best. I would put it up there with Metal Gear Solid. When listening to the voice overs, you kinda get the feeling that Sony is putting the stamp Made in the U.S.A on it. LOL.
Now where to begin with the gameplay. Well, the game uses random battles and non random battles. For the non-random battles, you have to touch the enemies to get into a fight. The game itself is very straight forward. It gives you an option like with FF7 on whether to have a green arrow showing you the way/exit and stuff if you have problem finding where the exit is. The world map travel is straightforward too. Just follow the dotted line to your next destination. Fights between enemies are pretty easy. The game itself is pretty easy for regular rpgers. The one thing to note is that when you get hit with a status ailment such as fear or poison, you're pretty much in a status state until you get an item to get rid of your status ailment or visit a town. This can be really annoying.
Battle System: Okay, this is the main meat of the gameplay. First off, you can have 3 members in a party fight. You get up to 7 members to choose from. Of course each member has his or her own unique contribution. The battle system is broken into the human stage and dragoon stage. We'll go with human stage first. Like with most rpgs, your choice of menu is attack, defend, and items. The only thing you don't have is magic. You can only get magic in the dragoon stage. The fights are in a turn base although sometimes the enemy will cheat and take multiple turns. The game uses a unique system called Additional Attack system. Think of it as your combo attack or special attack. Every character starts off with one Additional Attack Skill. Except for your archers as they don't have any additional skills or special attack. When you attack, you will see a blue square at the center screen with a large rotating square collapsing into the blue square in the center. Your job after selecting attack is to press the attack button again but at the same time the large square collapses onto the square in the center. If you do it correctly you will get off a special attack. Each time you do it correctly you get one additional skill points. Once you have enough additional skill points. Your special Additional Attack level goes up. Of course depending on what Additional Attack you are using, you may have to do a combo of collapsing square inorder to get off one special Additional Attack. Now sometimes the enemy will use a counter attack and the blue large collapsing square will turn to red. You will then have to press the cancel button instead of the attack button at the right time. If done correctly you will continue on with your Additional Attack. If not, then you get hit back instead. This can be hard or easy depending on the Additional Attack you are using. It takes quite a long time to learn how to use this system properly. That's pretty much the basic of the human character fight.
Now for the Dragoon fight. Each time your human character attack, they gain SP points. Once the SP bar is filled up you can change to a Dragoon. A Dragoon is an elemental stronger version of your human character. There are positive and negative about this. The positive is that you can use stronger attack and use elemental magic. Negative is that you can't use items, defend, escape, ect. Just magic and attack. Dragoon magic are basically strong elemental summon magic. When a Dragoon attack, you see a somewhat radar looking thing with a needle in it if you will call it that. The needle will spin around and around. You have to press the attack button again at the exact same point as to where the needle started off once it starts spinning. You have to do this correctly three times. Once done correctly, you will get off a Dragoon special attack. Again, this will take some time to learn correctly.
Overrall, the game is pretty much basic rpg turn base stuff with the exception of the Additional Attack Skill System. That will frustrate many gamers from time to time including yours truly. But it can also be pretty fun too. Overrall a 7.
Now there's really no mini games in this game at all. None that's significant or worth a mention anyways. There is however 3 extra stages or boss fight that you can get. One is fighting four previous dragoons, two is a bonus boss in a secret place. And lastly, the third one is that during the game you can find stardust in different hiding spot throughout the game. If you manage to find all 50 stardust, you can fight a hidden magic boss. That's about it for extras. Replay comes solely on whether or not you enjoy the game and want to give it another try. You probably will just to pick up more tidbits on the storyline that you didn't notice before. Overrall this game could use a little bit more on the extra side of things.
My final thoughts. If you are looking at a big picture, 3 years in the making with over 100 member staff, your really don't see the results at all. This game is as good as say FF7 or even FF8 but even then, those games didn't take that long to make. Now Dragoon has one of the best storyline that I've played and really is a good rpg game but I really don't see the need for it to be on 4 CDs or that it takes 3 years to make. This game is a really good game on itself, it doesn't need Sony to overhype it into something that it can't live up to. By far certainly not the potential FF killer or anything like that. In terms of the Dragoon storyline. I would love to see a prequel base on the past 7 Dragoons as they definetly intrigue me. The endings wasn't as full filling as I want it to be as there were some unresolved stuff and too short. I gave the story a ten because to simply put, I was quite surprise with by some of the revelation to the storyline.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/29/04
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