Shin

Drakengard

Console: Playstation 2
Game type: Action, Hack and Slash, Aerial Combat
Developer: Squenix, er SquareEnix
Number of players: 1
Languages: English

Presentation:
90/100

Introduction:
90/100
Near solid gold, with level of visual detail, swipes of various characters and some very impressive shots of you and your dragon flying and in action. Of course it gets even better when it gets into the meat of the game, hardcore ass kicking with swords and dragons. Some excellent music to boot.

Demonstration:
80/100
Unlike the game opening movie, the Demo is somehwat jagged at times. It uses a mix of voice samplings and both ingame action shots and CG shots. This doesnt always work well and here is one of those times. The music they play however(an original track created for the game) is very very nice and helps smooth things a bit. Nice overview of game battles in action, some random story elements with CG and the voice actors.

Menu:
100/100
Simple, clean and helpful. A key point is helpful. I will say right now this game has multiple chapters and 5 endings. Each chapter is broken into verses(song and music is a key point in this game) and upon beating the normal story verses you have to play you unlock various other verses. How does the menu affect this? Very simple. Verses you have completed are one color, verses you CAN play/and or view are in another, and verses in black you cannot do yet HOWEVER the menu does give you the requirements to unlock that verse. Simple, clean and wonderfully helpful. How a menu should be.

Visuals:
95/100

Image

Detail:
90/100
Its all in the details, and they put a lot of nice thought into details. The main focus of the game is varied weapons and unlike other games each weapon has its own distinctive patterns for both combos, movement and appearance. And this is a nice detail. You level your weapons as you fight with them and each new iteration(4 alltogether) will improve or show up on your weapon in one way or another. My favorite example is the weapon “Moonfire” which starts as a simpel grey looking sword, and ends up as a flaming red blade with a gold pommel and a large black oynx in the hilt. Other things like characters are nice as well. My only beef is that the main character always has the scabbard to his “main” sword on his hip. In a game with such lovely attention to detail it was annoying that a lil thing(which you will constantly see) is left like that. Also the hordes of enemys is sorta cheesed out with pallete swap versions.(aka the black version of the guy you just beat up is prolly stronger than the silver one). Otherwise excellent work all around.

Animation:
100/100
Super nice. Not only is the in game graphics just top notch, but the engines and such are flawless. No clipping, no bizzare or strange animation glitches between weapons. Its all wonderful. Throw in some drop dead gorgeous CG and you have a winner in the eyes department. I sincerely hope that Squenix keeps up this level of work for future games of its type, as it does set a nice lil standard of play.

Frame Rate:
90/100
Oh so good, so good. However after recent run throughs and repeated interactions ive noticed few, but still very noticeble occasions of the odd slowdown. One seems to be a set thing on one stage so it isnt to bad, and the others are just small lil bumps in a perfect game otherwise. HOwever the one in the stage “Castle of the Goddess:Keep” is quite noticeable. Ive had slowdown of 2-4 seconds, which doesnt sound like much except when you account for the fact that its merely bodies falling to the ground and 4 seconds of a very slow/standing still main character. It can be annoying. But other than that(which i strongly think is a glitch in that level as it happens no where else) it is wonderful. Not Soul Calibur wonderful, but hey this is a PS2.

Audio:
85/100
Very good tunes, only held back by a rather dull and or repetitive tone to some battles. The orginal song for the game is VERY good, and a lot of the game contains famous classical works licenesed for its various uses. The voice acting is very topnotch as well. This is one of the few english voice games you will not hear me complain about.

Playability:
90/100

Controls:
100/100
Simple and clean. And the best part of the controls is they barely differ from ground to aerial battles. You have one button which does the cutting/slashing or the blasting with fireballs. Then you have another button which when pressed in certain timing conjunctions with the other does a special move depending on type of weapon(aka spear, sword, etc). Or if you press this button just on its own, you release the magic of each weapon, and the magic of your dragon. The only “complications” are the use of shoulder buttons or rolls or evades or quick turn arounds. Simple, functional and well planned, a fan of the Sengoku Musou series should recognize the setup nearly instantly.

Single-Player:
100/100
Well this game is all singleplayer, and you wont want anything else. If you had someone else playing it would take away from your personal kick ass time and one cannot have that. The game in its entireity covers 13 chapters of varying verse length and 4 or so “extra” chapters for your side characters. These 13 chapters encompass the 5 endings of the game(you will get first ending in chapter 8, then playing through from that chapter on you get another, then other, etc). Ontop of this is the “free” mode, called Expedition. In this you revisit the vatrious areas and extras you unlocked during the storymode. Certain weapons can only be unlocked in this mode and you will most certainly be using it to level some of your favorite weapons outside of storyplay.

Multi-Player:
N/A
Though thinking about it, the Aerial battles between Dragons would be completely kick ass.

Loadtime:
90/100
Minor PS2 normal loadtime between levels. This is usually offset by the info screen, which pops up telling you what you need to do on various missions, etc. Lil loading between FMV’s, but otherwise fine.

Lastability:
100/100

Concept:
100/100
Beating the crap out of the “Evil empire” never gets old. Especially when they give you a horde of weapons to choose from, and of course a big badass dragon. The integration of both ground battles(in which you interact with your dragont to swoop through the battlefield), Aerial battles(in which you and your dragon are flying a wee bit higher than ground battles and kick the shit out of various flying stuff), and indoor battles(no dragon but lots of you and evil empire baddies) is really nice. Especially during storymode where logical continuations of battles take place. You fight to clear the skys above the battlefield, then a minor loading screen later you and your dragon descend(same battlefield) to take it to the ground forces. Nice stuff.

Story:
80/100
As cool as it is, its a bit convulated at times and some of the final endings made me weep in utter disbelief.(not that they werent good, just…fuckign wierd) Its your classic tale of Evil Empire wanting to take over the world. Whats new is the concept of the Goddess. Who is a chosen mortal woman whose life is dedicated to bearing the great burden of the four elemental seals that hold back Chaos from the world. If the seals all fail she is the failsafe so to speak. The empire is also noticebly very evil, being cold blooded, emotionless, brainwashed and oh yeah they all have RED evil glowing eyes. The real meat of this story comes from the characters and interactions. How Caim(main character) and his quest for revenge against the empire, finds himself pulled into greater and greater struggles. How Inuart his best friend, and Furiae his sister(who happens to be the Goddess) fit into things. As i said, the story is actually reallly cool for the first ending. The endings afterwards will just make you hurt and contain the wierdest things such as creepy evil angellike incarnations of your sister, Giant flesh eating babys(no im not making that up, i wish i was), A goddess mother about to give birth to said creepy babys, and of course Tokyo.(its always there in some way or another, lol).

Addiction:
100/100
Lots and lots of weapons. And the best part. Each weapon has its own lil story or legend which is unlocked peice by peice everytime you level it. So as well as the visual appeal of your weapons leveling you have the story as well. Aside from these weapons which are hidden and earned throughout the game, is one badass secret well worth the trouble. Being able to fly a jet around, with your main character riding the cockpit like he does the dragons neck. It is a culmination of aqcuiring 100 percent of the weapons and workign through all 5 endings AS well as a secret free expedition mode where you fly over the skys of Tokyo shooting down jets. This lil gem kept me working through all the start overs and long hours of weapon searching. But it is worth it. As well as the dragon levling up with storylines, the sheer simple fun of slicing and dicing enemy armys is enough(if the popularity of the Dyanasty Warriors series shows us anything).

Secrets:
100/100
Unlocking weapons, Jets, dragon levelups, new stages and new side characters is just nice. This game has 5 endings, which while not exactly secret, is still work to unlock and earn.(each one is alphabetical as well in some way or other, A-E). This game while not having a hoard of secrets, has more than enough to keep you comign back.

Total: 90/100

Final verdict:
Mmmm, mmm good. This game itches me just where i needed it. Combining some nice action elements, with some nice story and aerial work you have yourself a unique gaming experience unlike any other at the moment. You want hack and slash sure play Dyanasty Warriors. But can you fly a screeching red dragon of death though the enemy hordes or a Jetfighter though a medeival/mystical airforce of dragons and imperial ariships/ballons? I think not. Multiple Endings? Booku bonus. Very nice character designs/interaction? Also bonus. Wonderful eye candy? Bonus. A game that THANKS YOU FOR PLAYING? Priceless. I had thought this practice of games thanking you for playing was long gone, but i am glad to see it isnt so. It may seem like a lil nitpick, but after the countless hours, the hard work, and the very very profuse swearing to sit through a nice ending, some credits and then to hear a cute lil child say “Thank you for playing”. Well that just made the whole thing that much more enjoyable. Bottom line is, this game rocks. On many fronts of rocking. You would be well served to pick this up and enjoy yourself a simple and fun time of mindless action. Rent it, without a doubt. Buy it, with my blessings. If somehow you walk away displeased with this game, how it performs, etc. I sincerely wish you to write to me and let me know, as i think this game is good enough to set a standard for Squenix to come.

Overall:
Flying Dragons, Bad-ass main character, beautiful game, tons of action.

By Darknight Z0

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.