Review by Crazee Boy
"By no means the best RPG, but a nice first shot by Sony."
Alright, so, I first got my PlayStation. My uncle brought me a sack of his RPGs to let me play. Typical RPG stuff. Grandia, Star Ocean, blah blah blah... "Oooh! Legend Of Dragoon? Looks interesting." And it was interesting. I loved this game. I still do. Despite it's sometimes goofy and flat dialogue, it's so great.
Okay, starting off with the presentation, Legend Of Dragoon is quite nice looking. The characters are blocky, but you can make them out pretty easily, and they don't look too bad. In fact, for the PlayStation, these are probably very good. One gripe, however, is that in attempting to make the characters 'breathe', the game's developers made them bulge and contract unnaturally...
When you're running around an area, there's nice pre-rendered backdrops. These are dripping with quality, and are very pleasing to the eye, not to mention the characters, as polygonal as they are, fit well with the backdrops quite nicely. The game has a sort of Resident Evil camera. It turns when you reach the end of the screen, but doesn't actively chase you. It works, though.
In battle, the areas are actually rendered by the game's engine. The textures tend to stretch and tear as the camera moves around, though they aren't that bad looking. Also, in battle, there's some nice lighting. While it's not great lighting, it adds a bit of detail, which doesn't take anything away from the game.
The special effects for the attacks are just fantastic. This being a 3-D RPG, you have more than just screen flashes and shakes. Pulsating beams of energy, colorful explosions, dancing bolts of electricity, and quite a bit more. The transformations your characters undergo during battle are breathtaking, too.
Legend Of Dragoon features some great-looking, yet cheesy full-motion videos. Of course, they're only cheesy because of the humorous voice-acting. While I can count the number of them on one hand, they're always a treat, and just icing on an already tasty cake.
The 'breathing' and the tearing, stretching textures in battle are what keep Legend Of Dragoon from achieving a perfect ten in it's graphics rating. It's still a nice looking game, though.
The sounds are good. There's a large variety of sound effects in the game, though quite a few of them rather generic-sounding. Of course, I've never found an out-of-place or bad sound in this game, so I don't think that takes anything away from the overall audio quality.
The voice acting in the game is very brief. Most of your main characters are only heard when they sound off during their attacks, known as "Additions". (More on that later.) They're only given small snippets of vocals to announce what their attack is, assuming it's performed properly. These get very repetitive...
The lack of originality and the annoyance of the characters repeatedly announcing their attacks keeps this game from getting a perfect ten for sound, but it's still alright.
The music in Legend Of Dragoon is very fitting, and nice to listen to. (The soundtrack is worth the hunt.) There aren't any tunes you'll find yourself humming in the shower, but they fit the locales well. There's also a good variety. Pretty, serene tracks for green fields, and an eerie chord composition for the high-tension moments.
Battle music is quite varied, too. It tends to range from somewhat quiet, suitible to a low-priority battle, to a raging organ track with haunting, chanting chords for a more epic challenge.
Without spoiling too much, I'll say that Legend Of Dragoon's story is kinda typical among RPGs. Young, hot-headed man with a good sense of justice out for revenge. Starts off saving his best friend, ends up saving the world. You know the drill. There's plot twists, characters change sides, some characters die. You laugh, you cry, you tilt your head and say "WHAT was that!?". LoD has it all!
I give Legend Of Dragoon's story a seven because it borrows on a lot of cliches.
The characters in this game have their specific personalities, but it's as if the writers forgot them most of the time. The characters just tend to talk without emotion, and there's even a few grammatical errors. No typos that I've seen, but some sentence structure that would make an English teacher cringe.
The controls are alright, easy to use, and pretty typical among RPGs. The d-pad/left analog stick moves you around, triangle opens your menu, X performs actions or starts conversations, and that's pretty much it. When you're running around, at least.
In battle, your controls are also RPG-typical. You use the d-pad or the analog stick to move through the menus, X to select and perform your attack, and X to participate in your additions.
Here we are, the main portion of Legend Of Dragoon, as it is with any game. Well, just running around in the various areas of the game is easy enough, but somewhat intuitive with the context-sensitive X button. You can talk to people with X, or perhaps talk a merchant to buy things. This is where pretty much everything in the game takes place, when you're roaming around. Now, there's a marker above your head. What does that mean? Well, when it's blue you're safe. When it's yellow, you're in danger. When it's red, a battle is imminent! Legend Of Dragoon doesn't make a battle occur every few steps; when you travel a certain distance, it's battle time! Personally, I think this is quite nice. After playing Pokemon and going through the annoyance of a battle every cursed step, I can appreciate what they did to make Legend of Dragoon less annoying and more attractive than the competition.
Battles in Legend Of Dragoon are more involved than typical RPG battles. You have these nifty little "Additions". These require you to press X at the proper moments to deliver more damage and continue the attack. The more times you do an Addition, the more powerful it gets.
When your character transforms into a Dragoon, (You'll figure that out on your own.) they have access to powerful elemental magic spells, and they can do Dragoon Additions, which are quite flashy as well as powerful. These require you to press the X button when a rotating pointer is aligned with a point on a disc. I know I made that sound confusing, but it's quite simple to do.
Legend Of Dragoon is quite a long game, spanning four CDs, and the first time you play and know all the plot twists, the magic is gone... So, I don't really see why you'd want to play this game after you've already beaten it. It's also hurt in that there's no New Game Plus.
Legend Of Dragoon is a refreshing game for those tired of passive, 2-D RPGs, or RPGs that require minimal input. Legend Of Dragon is worth a try, so look for a copy. I'm sure it's cheap, and it's more than worth the effort to find.
While I may not like Final Fantasy games, they're probably better than this game is. Square has had much more practice in genre, and Final Fantasy games, as much praise as they get, must have something good about them. But Legend Of Dragoon, regardless of the competition, is still a very good game, and it deserves to be played. It's too bad a sequel is completely out of the question...
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/26/07
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