Saturday, May 8, 2010

Too Little, Too Late: Episode 3 - The Legend of Dragoon (PS1) [Archived]

For those who have been tracking (or stalking) my Facebook status in the last couple of weeks, you would know that I recently finally finished off "The Legend of Dragoon" for the PlayStation. Now since it's Friday, and I have nothing better to do with my existence, I'm going to write my opinions about it, 10 years after the release.

Too Little Too Late Episode 3:
By Grover








A peaceful beginning, the legend was born 10,000 years ago. A violent uprising. A civilization of flying creatures enslave the human race. A bloody war. In a bid for freedom, the humans harness the spiritual forces of Dragons and triumph. Tranquility and harmony exist between all. But the past and the future are about to collide.

Unveil a fantasy of magnificence, deception, magical combat and retribution.

The journey that seeks the past ends. And the journey to discover today begins. Unleash that spirit of the Dragoons. And discover your destiny.




Introduction:






















Storyline (20 points) -







The Legend of Dragoon's storyline is not that bad. I really enjoy the pacing of the four disc long epic.







Each disc is its own chapter. When the chapter is ended, and the next disc is inserted, it gives the illusion in game that considerable time has passed between the discs. Kind of like starting a new chapter in a book. And I really like how it's written.







However, some of the story is cliche though. Main character is a sword wielding hero who is in love with the healer chick. The healer chick has feelings for the main sword wielding hero from the start, but the main character is too macho to admit it until the climax of the game... Etc.







I won't spoil the rest of it for you, because this game has a lot of interesting plot twists that will have you saying "Damn, I never saw it coming". Well, unless you actually read the walkthrough... But that's cheating now, isn't it? But then again everyone knows Aeris dies in Final Fantasy VII.








Score: 17/20

Gameplay (20 points) -

The gameplay for Legend of Dragoon mixes the old with the new. Well, new as much as this game is concerned. (It was released back in 2000, so by new, I'm talking the games it was up against at the time.) Anywho, unlike regular attacks in role-playing games, an "attack" can be more than one slash. But what determines the slash is if you can time the pressing of the X (and in some cases, O if the monster is trying to counter) button. Other than that, the battles are traditionally turn based, and it's in essence a throw back to the old RPGs of the 80's and early 90's. In a ways, that is what makes it fun.

In battles, the characters can turn into Dragoons which are pretty much super powered versions of the characters. This is also the only way the characters can cast spells, as magic cannot be used when the character is not in Dragoon mode.






One of my complaints is that if you link attacks together, they make a voice acted saying, and it gets fairly annoying- especially in longer battles.

Another thing about the gameplay: The world map and actual map design is very interesting, and strays from most RPG concepts. The world map is not open. It's a very linear path. I mean literally, you run in a line.

In terms of how regular monsters are encountered, there is a pointer above the main character. When a random encounter is far off, the pointer above Dart's head is blue. As you run, the pointer will eventually change to yellow, and when the pointer goes to red, that means a random encounter is about to start. I like this system because it ensures that progress is actually made before a battle. I hate how in some games, you take one step and it triggers a battle. What's up with that? Ugh!

Another minor complaint I have is once you get to disc 4, if you want to visit some older areas from Disc 1-3, you'll be swapping discs in order to go there, it's a minor inconvenience if you want to do some side-quests on the world map.

Score: 18/20

Music/Sounds (20 points) -
The music in "The Legend of Dragoon" is pretty well done. There is a whopping six battle themes. (Three battle themes, three boss themes) and then there is the final boss battle.

Since there are actually so many themes, I'll pick some of my favorite music from the game.












Score: 16/20

Innovation to Genre (20 points) -
Pros:

Innovative Map Design.
Innovative Encounter System.
Extremely good graphics for its time. Compared to FFVIII and FFVII which were released shortly before and had considerably worse graphics, Legend of Dragoon set the standards for the end of the PS1 and put it to its capabilities.

Cons:

Terrible voice acting alignment. It feels like an old movie in the 1930's.
Long loading screens, especially for the FMVs.
Drawn out battle transitions. The waterfall transition gets old around disc 2.


Score: 17/20

Re-playability (20 points) -
Depends, really. If you want to go to the final dungeon, you better make two save files. Because in the final dungeon, once you go in, you can't leave. Plus there are save spots in there. So you get that feeling if it's worth it to either go back and do all the extra stuff, or waste the one block of memory space to have the option in the future. OR just not do it at all.

Anyway, some of the sidequests are actually well designed, but the way the final dungeon is structured, it just doesn't allow for a lot of re-playability, just from the way it's poorly designed at the end. That's not to say that the ending is good, but the way that you're trapped inside makes it distasteful.

Some other RPGs do it too, notably Lunar 2: Eternal Blue and Final Fantasy VIII. It's really annoying.

Score: 16/20
Conclusion:

If you're a RPG fan like myself, The Legend of Dragoon is definitely worth a purchase if you can find a copy. Finding one not online is pretty rare, unless you scrummage through rummage sales or Swap Meets like I do. You'll probably not even find one at GameStop anymore. It's a must-have to a game collection. I kind of wish they made a sequel, but apparently Sony saw the game as a failure. I see it as bad marketing because the game came out like right before the release of the PlayStation 2, so I don't feel that this game ever really got a chance to shine like it should have. Maybe it should be released for the PlayStation portable, now that would be pretty awesome.

17+18+16+17+16
Final Score: 84/100 - ( B ) Recommend!

Next episode of "Too Little Too Late" will be on the Chrono series. ...Whenever I get around to finishing both games.
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