Shin Force | Sega Dreamcast Review
Shin Force
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Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm
Jun. 21, 2000 (USA)
3rd Person
Backup 20
         > To begin with, I just going to come right out and admit that I love this type of game.  That is, the fantasy action/adventure with just enough role playing and puzzle solving to keep you glued to the screen.  Basically, Draconus combines the hack 'n' slash of Soul Fighter, the adventure of MDK2, and a bit of class advancement from Time Stalkers.  You're on a quest to unite the shattered kingdoms of humanity and ultimately defeat the vile Dragon Lord.  This works well in theory so let's see how the individual categories score...
         > Utterly amazing.  Although it's not everything, the graphic splendor Treyarch has mastered on the Uberconsole is nothing short of excellent.  Explore vast beautifully detailed locales that seem alive.  There's a forest city, dark haunted swamp, fortress in the countryside, and more indoor/outdoor areas to explore.  Leaves fall; fires emit smoke and sparks; torches and lights glow with dynamic intensity; blood splatters everywhere; sparkling wisps give their blessing; water splashes and makes a wake -- these are some of the graphic effects you'll behold in this game.
         > The characters look realistic and move smoothly.  Enemies range in size and weaponry.  Your view is almost always behind and slightly above.  To supplement that, a roaming perspective view is available to check out your surroundings.  As expected, the magic spells are really nice.
         > Now, everything isn't perfect.  The game seems to drop a few frames every now and then, but it's nothing to be concerned with.  Also, when they show close ups of characters' faces during cut-scenes, their faces never move.  I know that's not too important, but facial animation could have been added.
         > As you know, a game can look and sound great, but the gameplay has to be there too.  Treyarch definitely spent most of their time insuring that Draconus' graphics keep your attention.  That's not to say that the gameplay sucks, at least not in my opinion.  Now, anyone can pick up the controller and get right into this game.  Mastering the moves, however, is another story.  Aside from standard movement, attack, jump, use, block, and strafe, you must master the combo system and timing to conquer this game.
         > The aspect which is most likely to turn some people off to this game is the ease of moving out of position.  In other words, it may be too easy for some people to lose their desired position while playing this game.  You're either going to hate this aspect, or you're going to learn the moves and get accustomed to the floating third person views.
         > Once you know how to fight, then you can take on the deadly beasts that stand in your way.  Sometimes a power-up or key appears after an enemy is defeated.  Other times, you'll get an item which is necessary to complete the mission.  Along the way you can find "wisps", which are essentially sprites.  These wisps either bless you (5 blessings allows one skill advancement), or they heal you.  Either way, they're worth finding.  Lastly, at the end of a mission you can upgrade one or more skills, and select your next destination.
         > Simply inspiring.  Draconus' music is comprised of mood setting orchestral tunes, which are good enough to be in a movie.  The tempo always seems to conveniently change when you're about to walk into grave danger!  Here's hoping for an official soundtrack.
         > The sound effects are great too.  You'll hear foot steps, swiping swords, metal clashing, blustering wind, birds chirping, various grunts, rushing water, crickets, and speech galore  -- all clear as a bell.
         > Although the difficulty is adjustable, I think the challenge is present nonetheless.  Your main choice is the player character -- either a brawny warrior named Cynric, or a voluptuous Sorceress named Aeowyn.  During a level, you're free to go anywhere.  Certain areas require a key, the proper item, or the death of a certain beast.  The desire to witness the beauty of the next level coupled with the enchanting music keeps me enthralled...
     > Draconus' graphics and sound are sure to please everybody -- the gameplay is what's going to make or break your enjoyment.  Sure you'll love the hack 'n' slash with magic stuff and class advancement, but the control is a little sluggish to begin with.  However, after the learning curve, most people will find fun in this game.  It's not a perfect game...  It's darn good though...
Overall: 8.7 | Graphics: 9.8 | Control: 7.5 | Sound: 9.5 | Fun: 8.0
~ Shinobi ~