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 Sega Saturn Review

Sega/Shin Force > Systems > Sega Saturn > Reviews N-Z

Shin Force ~ Panzer Dragoon ~
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Sega Force Vault
Team Andromeda
4x CD
Import / Domestic
Jan. 30, 1998 (Japan)
May 8, 1998 (USA)
3rd Person
Flight/ Shooter/ RPG
3D Pad
Backup 23
Mission Stick
     > Panzer Dragoon Saga, the latest masterpiece from Team Andromeda brings the Panzer Dragoon series to the next level.  For those not in the know, Panzer Dragoon and its sequel, Panzer Dragoon Zwei are some of the finest 3D shooters available on any home system.  In these games you rode a dragon, shooting all types of monsters and machines.  The first Panzer Dragoon was revolutionary when it was released early on in the Saturn's life.  The sequel expanded on the original, but without too much innovation over it's predecessor.  Both games are generally regarded as some of the finest shooters to grace a home console.  The quality of design, graphics, and gameplay are exceptional.  The only knock against the original Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei is that they are rail-shooters where you are confined to predetermined courses.  Team Andromeda recognized this weakness and set out to make the ultimate shooting game. Panzer Dragoon Saga (PD Saga) is the result. 

     > Not only does PD Saga eliminate rails, it has introduced some of the best elements from RPG's.  The result is simply amazing. Team Andromeda serves up an immersive game that is dripping with gameplay.  Pretty impressive for a game on a "dead" system. 

     > The story behind PD Saga is top notch.  The best part of PD Saga is the way it consumes the player.  You are Edge, a young kid thrust into the middle of political intrigue and ultimately shape the fate of a world.  After a great intro in which you witness a flurry of puzzling events that set the game in motion you take control.  Unlike most RPG's you don't know any more than your character is expected to know.  This is one of the most innovative approaches I have seen in quite some time.  With the great graphics and gameplay it is easy to overlook the story, but it is arguably the real star of the game. 

     > PD Saga builds on the established PD story.  In addition to some old PD staples there are plenty of new things to experience.  The unity between the three games will become clear as the game progresses.  PD Saga answers several questions from the previous PD games and does a nice job of wrapping up the trilogy.  The result is the most satisfying game ending I can recall. 

     > If PD Saga suffers only from one shortcoming it is the fact it is simply too easy.  I had absolutely no troubles with this game. A competent dragon rider should be able to breeze through this one in no time.  I was killed twice the whole game.  In this case the dragon is just too powerful.  With the right berserk powers and gun no enemy can stand a chance. 

     > In addition, the length may not be what one would expect from an epic of this magnitude.  I finished the game in under 20 hours. While this is extremely short for an RPG, let me assure you this is certainly the ideal length.  PD Saga is a Panzer Dragoon shooter with RPG features.  In my opinion 20 hours is the ideal length for this genre.  At 20 hours the game moved along at a brisk pace.  Surely the game could have been longer, but at the risk of becoming monotonous....

     > The graphics are what you should expect from a Panzer Dragoon game. The graphics never needed improvement in the first place, so expect more of the same fine graphics you are used to seeing in a PD game.  In other words smooth polygons, nice texture variety, accurate shading and colorful light-sourcing.  The enemies are varied and imaginative and the bosses are huge and imposing. The graphical stars of the game are your dragons berserk powers. When these spells are unleashed get ready for a real treat.  Not only are they deadly, but they are fun to watch.  The only time the game is subject to the bane of action games, slowdown, is during berserk attacks.  Thankfully you just sit back and watch the carnage while your dragon deals massive damage to the enemy.

     > The CG movies are of outstanding quality and actually enhance the game.  Seeing a render of the dragon in motion, with it's colorful wings and soft edges a beautiful sight to behold.

     > PD Saga is just loaded with little details.  These small details which vastly add to the atmosphere are often taken for granted. but it is my opinion that these little details are what make Sega games special.

     > The control is just as good as the visuals.  There are three separate modes of gameplay: navigating the dragon in flight, exploring on foot, and battle.  Each of these have a third person view.  While exploring on foot and on the dragon you are free to roam wherever you please.  At these times the camera is a simple "chase-cam" view that can not be adjusted.  During battles the dragon moves on a 360-degree rail where he circles around enemies. Flight and exploration are intuitive, and after the tutorials you should have the battle system down pat.
     > There is nothing special as far as sound is concerned, but it does what I feel sound is supposed to do: enhance, not annoy.

     > Sound effects are taken from the previous PD games, and are still excellent.  If you have played the previous PD games you know what to expect.  If not, then prepare to hear plenty of pulsing lasers and monsters squealing as they take hits. Hearing my dragon scream in agony actually makes me feel guilty for leaving him vulnerable to attack!

     > There is voice acting throughout, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your tastes) it is all in Japanese.  If it is any consolation the acting sounds good with distinct voices for each character and tone changes to show emotion.

     > The music does an excellent job of setting the mood without being intrusive.  The tempo and style changes depending on the situation and location ranging from soft wind instruments to pounding percussion..

     > To control a dragon and shape a world.  Is there a more enjoyable way to spend 20 hours of your life?  Not only is it fun, it is genuinely interesting and immersive.  I beat the game and still can't stop thinking about it!
Bottom Line
     > This is what Sega gaming is all about.  Few games are as enjoyable as this one.  If you can find a copy you owe it to yourself to give it a try.  You will not be disappointed....
Overall: 9.3 | Graphics: 9.0 | Control: 10 | Sound: 8.0 | Fun: 10
~ August ~

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