Review by S3 Raiden
"It had potential, but came out too late and never reached it."
Title: Legend of Dragoon
Genre: Role Playing Game (Turn-based)
The graphics of Legend of Dragoon were an obvious improvement upon the most talked about RPG at the time, Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy VIII came out around this time, which boasted obviously better graphics via character models and overall textures. Due to this the overall presentation of the game was diminished via comparison. Another quirk about the graphics in this game is the fact that no matter which weapons or armor you were equipped with the appearance of your characters in battle appeared exactly that same. This was a feature in which most games at the time used. The ways in which this category could've been improved are rather obvious.
The battle system of Legend of Dragoon used an Additions system (think of Super Mario RPG's timed hits system, on crack, with one addition easily going on for maybe 7 hits). This system will basically make or break you (the reason for this reasoning will be explained later) so this system will be liked by some while despised by others, this system will be pure murder to people with no capability when it comes to reflexes or timing. Also the item system it based on a limit (you can only carry 20 items, not 20 items of each type, 20 items, this means have five healing potions will take up a fourth of your total capacity) I thought this system sucked at first because of the limited nature, but it grew on me. The limit really forced you to think "What do I need, what don't I need?" which I liked a lot and I felt added to the game. Also, if you thought the Defend command of Final Fantasy VIII was good, you'll have a heart-attack about the defend command in LOD, when you defend you (a) regain a portion of HP (b) reduce ALL damage and (c) become temporarily immune to status ailments. Now we get to the meat of the battle system: the Dragoon. Each member of your party has a dragoon spirit that you gain at some point in the game. When you gain it you will now accrue Spirit Points (SP) when you attack, the amount you get per attack is addition-based, and each 100 SP counts as a Dragoon Level (D Lvl). The D Lvl essentially represents the number of turns in which you can stay a Dragoon, as logic would deem as you use the powers of the Dragoon more you are able to gain more D Lvls (up to a max of 5). When you become a Dragoon you will now have the commands 'D-Attack', 'Magic', 'Revert'. D-Attack will open a screen in which a dial will appear, pressing the button when told when and you will execute more hits. The Dragoon Addition is a rather moot addition in the game (hey, I made a pun!), as a perfect Dragoon Addition is the most powerful attack you can use at the beginning of the game, but shortly into it magic far outweighs the Dragoon Addition in power. Magic and Revert are fairly obvious. Special, this is when the power of a Dragoon is truly evident. When all members of the Active Battle party have the maximum number of D Lvls they can (so it could be 5-3-5 or something) a person can issue the Special command. When that person uses the Special command the background changes depending on the Dragoon Spirit of the person who used the command. When the command is used the background changes to a design whose color favors the dragoon (for example if Dart were to use the command, being the Red-Eye Dragoon, he would have a red background presented) and the other members of the party become Dragoons as well. This mode serves a greater purpose than to just to change the background and make all battle party members turn Dragoon, the person who issues this command automatically executes a perfect Dragoon Addition (useless) and cause 50% more damage with there magic (that's the stuff), and you will find yourself using this in boss battles quite a bit. Also, there are items that can be reused from battle to battle, also the damage caused be these items is based on the users magical attack stat.
This system is fairly standard. You kill something, you get experience points (EXP), you level up. The problem is getting that EXP. When you get EXP it is divided among your party. This may not seem so bad, but wait until you're splitting what is a rather sparse amount between 8, now you understand. Judging from this fact one could argue that there is an obvious focus in this game is leveling your additions (as evinced by the fact that a normal enemy may net you 15 EXP then you fight a boss and get 800). At times you may think the small enemies give you EXP just to make you feel like you've done something, which is probably true. This complaint often heard is the slow leveling, which in truth, has a good basis, but if you focus on your additions this won't seem like such a big deal.
This game has a class system however it is fairly vague at times with the only real easily identified being Kongol as the Heavy physical attacker, Shana/Miranda as the White Mage, and Meru as the Black Mage of sorts. Unfortunately you need SP for your White Mage to go Dragoon and use magic. Since she uses a bow she cannot use additions, forcing her to only accrue SP at greater rates once she has leveled up to certain points, this makes your White Mage a bit of a liability. This in effect destroys the possible position of your White Mage. Other than that there isn't much to say about the classes.
Rather cliché, to be honest, however it tends to pull of the story rather well. The story basically follows the heroes working to stop the birth of an evil god and thus, the destruction of the world's many races. The game also seems to leave many questions posed unanswered. I would go more in-depth but that would probably have me move into spoilers.
This is the games greatest weak point. The music in this game is horrible. Most of the music is rather plain if not horrible. All the non-boss battle music is obviously poorly done. And there is an obvious difference in the orchestra music used for other games compared to the synthesized beats of this game, and the only good music for the world map is the disc-2 world map, in my personal opinion.
Sidequests and Minigames:
In this game Minigames are quite few and far between. The majority of the minigames are concentrated in one city. They also do not pose as much of a challenge as one may hope. As far as sidequests go, there are three. That's right three, however two are linked together so one could infer two sidequests. One sidequest is the collection of stardust, which leads into a boss fight if you so choose, and fighting the old dragoons. These quests are not especially difficult (like the minigames) so some hardcore gamers may find themselves disappointed by them.
Buy or Rent?
I would say you should buy this game, my main reason being the length of it. As most RPGs of its era, it boasted at least forty hours of gameplay. If you would like to accomplish all of the sidequests and minigames more time will be needed. This may make you consider buying it. Also at the time of writing this review Legend of Dragoon is a rather rare find for renting.
However, one could justify renting it if they have about forty hours to kill in about a week. Still one may not be able to complete all of the sidequests and minigames.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/23/05
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