Review by lordarc

"A game this good shouldn't be so short."

Panzer Dragoon Saga is, simply put, my favorite game of all time. It is unfortunate that so few have experienced it, because the game isn't just a game it is an experience.

Opening sequence:
The opening sequence usually is a good indicator on how good a game is, especially an rpg. And Panzer's doesn't disappoint. Essentially a rebel leader comes and kills your party of imperial soldiers guarding and excavation site. Edge, one of the soldiers, gets rescued by a dragon and flies off after revenge.
score: 9

Graphics / Visuals:
More often than not visual flair and the beauty of a world outweigh the actual technical achievement. The actual graphics for Panzer are only 'good', even for the Sega Saturn. Everything runs in low resolution, the character Models are only ok, and move strangely, and the polygon count isn't high. Fortunately Everything in the game is beautiful. The towns are creative and well laid out, and they fit the atmosphere of the game perfectly. Everything has a unique visual luster. Everything from Airships, to ruins, to the towns and villages, to the monsters just look cooler in Panzer. Plus panzer is rendered in all 3-D. most RPGs of the era have either pre rendered backgrounds, or sprite characters. So Panzer definitely earns bonus points in that respect.
score: 10

Atmosphere / World:
The world in Panzer is small, there are only 2 dozen or so places you will be visiting. Fortunately it works well with the atmosphere of the game. Team Andromeda was aiming for a dreary, desolate, post apocalyptic type atmosphere, and pulled it off perfectly. While many RPGs go for a bright, colorful look, and cheery feel, Panzer goes for a dark, dull look, and serious feel. In addition there are no school boy crushes or dumb jokes, and none of the characters make light of the situation. While, whether this is a good thing or not is up to the opinion of the reader, They did a hell of a job with what they were trying to do.
score: 10

Battle System:
First off it is rarely mentioned, but Panzer has probably the best method of battle initiation of any game. What it does is sectors the map into blocks, and when you hit a new (unexplored) block there is a good chance you will fight a battle, however if you are going back over an already explored block, battles are few and far in between. The bosses are easily the coolest of any game I have played. The Actual Battle system is recognized even by people who don't particularly like the game as one of the best. The amount of strategy is incredible considering It isn't a heavy goal of the game (this isn't FF Tactics). Some may complain that all battle is done solo, But I couldn't see it any other way.
Score: 10 (can I give it an 11?)

Music / sound / voice:
All I can say is the music is some of the best. This has been a trademark of the entire series. It is very distinct, and fits the game well. As most people know, Panzer has its own language which is used in the FMV cut scenes. But for people who don't know Japanese, like me, you can pretend the entire game is in the Panzer language. The voice acting is great.
Score: 10

Story:
Although the game is short, there is a surprising amount of story to take in. The game is full of plot twists, and betrayal. Panzer also doesn't have BS or repetitive conversations like the ones that plague the more popular Playstation RPGs. The Story is told brilliantly, the Translation is spot on, and everything seems to advance at just the right pace. Unfortunately things sometimes seem a bit too convenient, and there then will be times you don't really know where you are going. Also if you think the standard for Stories is set by the FF series you may be disappointed, not because the story is worse, but simply because its different.
Score: 9

Miscellaneous:

Difficulty- Very easy. You probably will die less than 5 times in the game, and not more than once on any particular boss (most likely never on a common enemy).

Control- Its hard to give an rpg a score for control, but you can always easily get where you are trying to go.

Pros:
- Very Unique
- The atmosphere and overtones of the game are brilliant
- Great Visuals
- arguably the best ever Battle system
- Strong storyline

Cons:
- Way to short
- Relatively Low quality FMV
- Poor human animation

Overall:
Many compare this game with Skies of Arcadia. Don't, this game is much better (not saying skies is a bad game). The only thing that PDS and SOA have in common is that you spend much of your adventure in the air. A more proper comparison would be Vagrant story simply because it is the only other game I have played that has the same mood and atmosphere as panzer. I recommend that anyone who hasn't played the game, do so. Yea the game goes for $150 on ebay, but that value won't depreciate with one play through so you can simply re sell it when your done.

In my book the only thing that prevents this game from being a 10 is the length of the game. Most professional reviews say 25 hours, but if you take 25 hours you must be taking your jolly sweet time. My first time through took 16 hours. Now I can easily beat it, and do all the sidequests and explore everything in roughly 12 hours. If you know where to go and rush though it you could most likely beat in just over 8.
Final Score: 9+


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/17/02, Updated 12/17/02


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