| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_3D; loc=JPN] |
|I never played the original Saturn version of Panzer Dragoon, so curiosity made me pick up this port. It sports both a faithful (supposedly) re-creation of the Saturn version, and an "enhanced" version that pretty much looks exactly the same, only it runs in interlaced high-res rather than the Saturn's lower resolution, and cleans up the texture rendering a bit. Oh, and there's a "Pandora's Box" section with some artwork, superplay videos, and I think options to play any stage, though I didn't try that.|
Panzer Dragoon is a loose rail shooter, by which I mean that the game moves you along a pre-determined course through the extensive levels, but you have some wiggle-room to move around and dodge incoming objects and projectiles, such as giant collapsing columns, or blobby excretions from weird-looking flying creatures. And you can rotate the view around in 90-degree intervals with the shoulder buttons--it's all a lot like Rez, actually (see entry 750), including a significant emphasis on a lovely soundtrack, although PD's is orchestral, as opposed to Rez's ambient techno. Another button (and I only noticed this in the enhanced version, but it's probably in the original, too) lets you toggle the camera zoom in and out on your dragon mount.
I've found it a bit hard to get into this game, both because the graphics are quite plain and garish, and because the whole 360-degree camera spinning you have to do in tandem with shooting and dodging is all a bit much to take at first, especially since aiming and dodging are done with a single joystick. I guess that's how it works in Rez, too, but here it feels clunkier somehow.
It also doesn't help that a) you have limited continues and b) continuing only works from the beginning of the stage you were playing--so if you die against the stage boss, you have to replay the whole stage. Ergh.
Shooting, again like Rez, is mainly a matter of holding down the shoot button, waving the reticle over enemy targets to lock on to them, then releasing the shoot button to release curving tracking laser shots at them. Sometimes, though, just pressing the button rapidly to shoot bolts straight ahead is better, like when the first boss is firing flaming cannonballs at you. It took me a death to figure this out, because I couldn't lock on to the cannonballs, or onto the boss itself--I don't really see a good reason for that, either. Bah! Unintuitive!
Aside from moments of frenetic chunky spinning action, which aren't all that fun thanks in part to the control scheme, there are other stretches of relative calm, which is to say "boredom." It's a slow game at such times. The music is nice, and in many ways the game is a nice chill-out sort of thing, again like Rez, except that it's darn hard on the eyes.
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Let me just say again that the creature design is really weird, and I don't quite mean that in a good way. Stuff just looks...funky, and it's hard to tell heads from tails a lot of the time.