Review by SegaSaturn2kX

Reviewed: 07/18/05

Unique strategy RPG

I decided to write a review on Dragon Force because lately I have been asked to describe it on multiple occasions on the message boards. I figured I could help out my fellow gamers by supplementing the game's review section. DF was originally developed and programmed by an internal team within Sega. Working Designs did Americans a favor by translating and bringin it here stateside.

As I have described previously in a post, Dragon Force can be more accurately labeled as a strategy game with RPG elements rather than labeled as a strategy RPG. It is a unique game on its own that is disparate from games like Shining Force.

The plot DF centers around the return of Madruk, the God of Chaos and Destruction. Led by Astea, the goddess of life, the 8 leaders/generals of the many countries seek out the bearers of the Dragon Force. Incidentally those 8 individuals (6 of whom are playable from the start) are the Dragon Force. Each leader/general has his unique story and set of troops. DF is a massive game with eight different scenarios to play, one for each leader/general. The story is thoroughly engrossing and the gamer will have to play each leader/general before he will know the whole story of DF.

Graphics -- 10/10
DF fully demonstrated the awesome graphic power of the Sega Saturn. The action sequence displays up to 202 characters onscreen with no slowdown or nasty 2d inadvertant transparencies. Each character sprite is crisp, well animated, and moves about independently, albeitly in a set pattern. The gamer has to see it to believe the chaos of the battle scenes. Although all soldier type looks like one another, there are 10s of distinct lesser generals for the gamer to control. Some of them even have their own side stories within the larger plot!
The map sequences are less impressive but are not bad by any means. The map displays the massive entire continent of Legendra complete with oceans, artic wastelands, forests, deserts, forts, castles, and more. The gamer's units and enemy units are represented by the likeness of their respective generals. FMVs are full screen, but grainy -- aren't they all? They are presented in anime form and there are separate movies for each general. Sega did not sell us short in this department.

Sound -- 9/10
I love the music of this game. Each leader/general has his/her own world music during the map sequences and each terrain has its own battle song during the action sequences. Sound effects, however, are limited to a few sounds depicting the clashing of soldiers. There are no voices except during the anime cutscenes, which by the way are excellently dubbed.

Gameplay -- 8/10
In DF, the gamer controls up to 5 armies at one time and can either lay seige on an enemy castle or attack wandering enemy units. Some of the troop units include -- soldiers, knights, mages, archers, beastmen, zombies, dragons, samurais, martial artists, and harpies. The gamer will quickly realize that each unit has his advantages over certain other units and likewise. During the action sequences, the gamer can select different offensive or defensive strategies to combat the enemy. Once all of the gamer's troops are gone, the general will take on the enemy by himself, or he can run. With victory, the gamer often can capture enemy generals. Those unfortunate losers get placed in jail, but can be converted to the good side -- your side! There are weapon upgrades to collect as well. All this being said, DF becomes extremely repetitive. I cannot imagine anyone sitting down for a few months to complete the game with each general. The game tends to drag on after a few hours, but like any other RPG, the gamer needs to build experience points.

Last thoughts
I waited until this last section to talk about the two roving bands of thieves led by Pain and Agony. They are a pain and agonizing to deal with all the time. After the gamer defeats them, they transport to another area of the map only to come back and attack. I have figured a strategy to stop them from doing so; otherwise they distract the gamer from the real task at hand. This is a fantastic unique game unlike any other. It is somewhat similar to the awesome next generation game Kingdom Under Fire for the Xbox. One bit of trivia, Working Designs released the game with 3 different cd art. And before I forget, load times are tolerable in this game. Especially since it is an RPG, the gamer certainly has much time to spend. DF receives my recommendation

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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