Legends of Dragoon Review
The PS is most known for its remarkable RPGs, Square Soft is the dominator in that category and when I heard that Sony will be creating their very own Final Fantasy like RPG I freaked out. It turns out that Sony has been working behind a secret RPG for a little over three years now. The Legend of Dragoon is Sony's epic, one of the PS' most anticipated titles enters the bloody RPG battle. It seems like this is RPG season, first we received the awesome Vagrant Story, then Legend of Mana, and now The Legend of Dragoon. For years and years I though that the FF series is unstoppable, and its reign as RPG king would never end. But that might be all over if Sony has something to say about it. The Legend of Dragoon was developed under a 100 man team, yes you read right, 100 people working on one title, and their main goal was to take over the RPG genre. The Legend of Dragoon has been one very hyped up game, so see why this hype is to be believed.
RPGs such as Final Fantasy 7 and 8 have pushed the PS to its limits, I never though that I would see another traditional RPG to push the PS as far as those two games have. After seeing The Legend of Dragoon for the first time last year I was extremely surprised, when Sony showed movies and revealed facts on the game I couldn't help but to wet my bed because of the anticipation. The day had finally came, the day where I would finally grasp LOD in my hand, pop the first disk into the PS and go. From the movement the CG (FMV, call it whatever you want) started I instantly fell in love, I quickly noticed how perfectly compressed the CGs were, and how you couldn't see one badly compressed scene in LOD. Three years in development, it definitely shows, the quality that this game has is unrivaled by any other. If you read my Chrono Cross import review then you may remember me saying that the game only lacked one thing in the visuals and that was energy that the graphics lacked, they were beautiful looking visuals, but at times it felt as if they were missing that extra umph! That extra umph is exactly what LOD gives me, at times some eye-candy may occur, that usually happens when you come across a stream of water, a waterfall or some other H2O related scene.
Which brings me to the backgrounds, both FF7 and FF8 utilized pre-rendered backdrops but never this many. Legend of Dragoon has a whopping 600+ pre-rendered backgrounds inserted into all of the four CD's. Count 'em guys 600! Wow! Sony has really outdone themselves this time. Did I mention not only are there a brick load of pre-renders, but they also look better than anything you have seen on a Resident Evil game or Final Fantasy game for that matter. Crisp looking backgrounds that never lose their touch, what more do you want? Character detail is another excellent feature in LOD, all characters whether they are main or minor all look great, sharp and as smooth as ever. These character models excel over Final Fantasy 8's and Chrono Cross' characters. FF8 has slightly boxy looking models, while Chrono Cross had great looking models but their outlines were a tad bit grainy. But LOD's characters are awesome, Sony has done a breakthrough job with the whole visual category. My call is that visuals like this have yet to be produced on the PS, who knows maybe FF9 can step up and hit a homerun into the parking lot.
To slide off the track a little I want to mention Legend of Dragoons presentation, I'm not talking about the gameplay presentation, I'm talking about the box-cover art, the CD art and the manual art. Some of you may be saying to yourself, who cares about the art, but once you take a look at all of the things I mentioned you will know exactly what I'm talking about. I love the character designs, the colors everything about the box art and the character art itself is amazing.
Final Fantasy games are known for their unrivaled stories, depth and overall gameplay, but it looks as if LOD will be known for those three features as well. To kick things off, I want to mention that the cast in LOD really reminds me of a few FF characters. Dart is the Cloud type, his family was killed and his hometown was destroyed, Shana is the Aeris type, (slight spoiler) she is kidnapped in the beginning of the game and she has some mysteries powers that she doesn't know much about, and Lavitz is the Cid/Zell type, on one side he feels like Zell because of his love for his mother, but on the other side he plays like Cid because he uses a Spear as his primary weapon. A lot of the characters in LOD have a FF feel to them, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Playing LOD feels like your playing a new Final Fantasy game, because of the similar lives the LOD and FF characters have, it feels as if your playing a TRUE sequel to a FF game with a much different story line. It didn't take long for me to adjust to the gameplay mechanics of LOD, compared to FF8's mechanics I must say that LOD's are much easier to pick up. Instead of the complicated Junction system that FF8 had LOD has much easier "Addition" feature, this is where you change your special attack that is executed by good timing. The training will explain on timing in LOD. It plays a crucial part in the game, if your timing is precise then your selected "Addition" combo will be executed.
The Dragon race is the 105th race that the Divine Tree created, the Human race was the 106th race that the tree created, both races lived in peace until the Divine Tree created the 107th race the Winglies. These Winglies had nothing but evil ambitions within them, they built there floating cities and later on dominated the world. These flying creatures enslaved the humans, and this is where the Dragoon forms. A Dragoon is a human being combining his spirits and powers with a Dragon, this combination forms a Dragoon. The war between the Dragoons and Winglies was known as the Dragoon Campaign, the human race won and the Winglies were defeated, but was that really the end? Sorry guys the story stops there, pick up LOD if you want to know more. The game characters are very life-life, they create a very organic atmosphere like no other game has done before. Like any traditional RPG, Legend of Dragoon has random battles, but they don't occur as much as they do in FF games. By pressing L1 or R1, indicators will appear on the screen, one of them is a character indicator and shows the gamer where their fighter is on screen. When you are in an area where enemies lurk then the cursor above you will change color. If your cursor is green then a battle won't start for some time, then when it gets yellow that means you should get ready, after when it hits red that means a battle will occur any time now.
Dragoons are an essential part to the game, Dragoons as I said earlier are humans combining themselves with dragons to form Dragoons. Dragoon powers will greatly help you throughout your journey, fighting alone won't help much so that is why Dragoons are needed to kick ass even faster. Like all RPGs, Item Shops, Weapon Shops, and Hotels are included, but LOD has its own recovery area this is called the Clinic. Basically the clinic will recover your whole characters Status, MP and HP. The story in LOD is much easier to follow then Final Fantasy 7 or 8's, and that's wonderful for those new to the genre and for those who were aggravated by FF stories. Legend of Dragoon is a game for the ages, this is yet another contender for game of the year. Year 2000 may be the best year for the PS, with RPG titles like Vagrant Story, The Legend of Dragoon, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy IX, and Threads of Fate this is going to be a hot race for Game of The Year.
The game soundtrack is something to go ga-ga over. The tunes sound sharper than FF7 and FF8, and what's more is that the game has voice acting. First soundtrack then voice acting. A soundtrack is an incredibly important part in a videogame, it sets the mood of the certain area of the game that you are located in. Voice acting happens only during cut scenes, and the quality is great. The soundtrack has some very memorable tunes.
The Dual Shock is fully utilized and the Left Analog pad is used for navigating. In the game there will be a training area where Dart's master teaches Dart about the basic skills that he is able to do. There controls for the skills will be revealed. The control is very easy to pick up, X is the accept button and O is to cancel, the other way around to FF settings.
The Legend of Dragoon turned out to be something more than just your average RPG. I was completely stunned with its visual performance and how this game looked so good on a five year old system. Final Fantasy 8 has to step down, The Legend of Dragoon is definitely the king of RPGs but we still have some good titles in the pipeline including the US version of Chrono Cross. Great graphics, awesome gameplay, and an great soundtrack make this perfectly built 4 CD epic worth every penny.