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Legend of Dragoon

video game review video game review video game review Video Game Review: Legend of Dragoon Publisher: Sony
Category: Role-Playing
Platform: PS1
ESRB Rating: Teen    Release Date: June 2000

Overall Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 4

Review by Tom Allen
2½ Stars out of 4

One of the most anticipated arrivals of the summer, Legend of Dragoon is sadly a bit of a disappointment. The role playing (RPG) genre has exploded ever since Final Fantasy 7, but the legacy seems to have changed to a glitz-first, story-second mentality, negating the penultimate achievement of Final Fantasy 6.

I was downright angry with Final Fantasy 7. Characters were boringly flawless, with no background and hardly any serious development. Under PlayStation hardware, the battles became unbearable chores rather than the addictive tool for growth that they were on cartridge systems.

Legend of Dragoon is very similar to Final Fantasy 7, but I forgive it for at least not saddling me with poor controls, cartoony characters, and excessively explosion-laden cinemas. In short, the game has the visual gloss of Final Fantasy 8 with the game play of Final Fantasy 7, with none of the fun of Final Fantasy 6.

Dragoon's battles are chores from the word 'go,' focusing on well-timed follow-up button presses as fundamental for success. Later in the game, you are able to transform into a dragon for even more power. (Note: The guard option is actually helpful, as it restores 10% HP.)

As with Final Fantasy 7, the problems are the boring battles, average story, and the fact that the in-game cut scenes offer no more direction than a Melies film. Basically, the camera never moves from its alienating wide shots.

Final Fantasy 8 may not have gone much further in that regard, but at least the angles seemed to add to the scenes' complexity.

Furthermore, the characters' introspective acting added some interest, whereas the characters in Dragoon revert back to the cardboard feel when not graced by the power of full motion video.

The 40-plus minutes of CG scenes are impressive, but not on an emotional or engaging level. With no sympathetic character with which to relate, the game feels driven by plot more so than character, defying the RPG tradition.

The premise alone signals the been there, done that feeling. "Dragoon follows the adventures of Dart, a young hero who sets out on a journey to find the Black Demon to avenge the death of his parents. Along the way, he must rescue his childhood friend, Shana, and interact and fight with different races, all while harnessing the powers of the Dragoon." To me, this sounds like a fill- in-the-blank exercise in cliché.

If the game did not offer high-quality (though in no way incredible) art direction, my score would be lower. The game may not have much more going for it besides pretty pictures, but at least it tops Legend of Legaia.

Fair warning: The Game Shark appears to create a bug if you activate the Save Anywhere feature. When you encounter some pre-set dialogue scenes, your character will freeze and menus will be inaccessible. The bug remains intact even after the Game Shark is removed.

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