Cons: Uses cliches and rip-offs. Battle system completely sucks
The Bottom Line: I'm going to pass this bottom line thing up once again, saying: Just let the damn review speak for itself, alright?
Kudos to Sony. They know exactly what to rip off and from whom.
That being said, they had a lot of guts advertising their biggest rpg effort as a "Final Fantasy killer". Calling Legend of Dragoon a Final Fantasy killer back when Final Fantasy 7 was released would have made this game a simple bog standard. But releasing this game when they did while calling it a Final Fantasy killer was just plain wrong. Contender or challenger, maybe, but not killer. Final Fantasy and Squaresoft still reign supreme.
I don't know exactly how much of this game was ripped off and how much I've seen of it in other rpgs. I never got around to playing it until late last year, and by that time I had played so many other rpgs that I lost track of what came before what. But I do know this: I set a little rule of thumb for myself for powering up any new rpgs in my PlayStation-if the rpg fails to capture my lasting attention through the battle system after from about two to four hours and the story after eight to ten hours, it isn't worth playing. I'm about up to the eight-hour mark on Legend of Dragoon, and it has, thus far, failed on both accounts.
I had high hopes for Legend of Dragoon. With such an advertising blitz, who wouldn't? And look what the back of the package says: Transform into dragoons and unleash extraordinary powers. Incredibly diverse characters wield unique weapons. Totally unique and innovative tactical combat "Additionals" system. Unforgettable adventure. Sounds like my kind of game!
Then you turn it on, and it starts out well enough with a cool CG cutscene. Then you meet the main character, Dart, and soon afterward you are thrust into the heat of combat to test out this "Additionals" system. But then, things start to go downhill a bit after finding out that this battle system is strikingly similar to Squall's limit break from Final Fantasy 8: You press the X button at the right time and the hit does a little more damage. What makes it worse is the thought that you have to learn how to do this right in order to get anywhere in the game. If you don't, the battles will take an eternity at best and, at worst, you will be killed and forced to start over from the last save point-probably miles away from where you died. The fact that you have a "block" option that replenishes a bit of your health does little to balance things out in the tougher battles. You can either spend all your time blocking, or you can take the kamikaze approach and hit the enemy repeatedly, on the slim chance that one of your shots will eventually do him in. And the power of the enemies in encounters is also very unbalanced. I just beat the lving crap out of that huge boss back there, but I get done in by the little rabbit? How is that possible? Oh well. If things get that tough, at least you know you can go back a little and build a few more levels-if you have the patience, that is. Let's see, I got 17 exp. from those two guys, which will be divided three ways, my next exp. for all of them is 1000-something... Figure it out yourself, I'm no good at math, but you get the idea. Sure, you get the dragoon powers a bit later, and they help even things out, but at the stage of the game I'm in, they're only good for one turn.
But, hey, it's an rpg, and a good rpg can redeem it's horrible battle system through a good storyline and characters, at least to an extent. Did I digress too much from that first encounter? Well, I'll go back to that for a minute. After that, Dart finds out that his childhood friend, Shana, has been taken. While storming the prison where she's being held, he meets up with another warrior, Lavitz. They rescue Shana, and the adventure sloooowwwwly forms from there. Somewhere along the line, it became clear to me that these characters are all very boring, and that I don't really give a damn about any of them. The last character I met was Rose, whose mystique spiced things up a little, but the characters are a lost cause. So is the story, for that matter. So far, some wars are going on and stuff, and... The story has yet to emerge.
The graphics engine is the same one employed by Final Fantasy. Computer animated sprites against rendered backgrounds. The backgrounds are gorgeous, but the sprites are blocky-not as blocky as in Final Fantasy 7, but not as detailed as Final Fantasy 8, either. One might call it a bit of evolution in between the two games, but this game came out after FF8, so there's no excuse for such poor details. The CGs are nice, but since CG in rpgs is as commonplace as graphic effects in movies these days, saying that doesn't mean a thing.
Sounds range from fair to poor. You have the typical hack and slash effects, and the only thing that I remember about the annoyingly dramatic music are the headaches that they caused me. And I heard some fair-at-best voice-over acting in one of the cutscenes.
The controls are easy to learn, but they have the responses of remote-control cars. There seems to be a short half second delay between the time you press the dash button or the direction key, and you never feel like you're in complete control of Dart.
Now I'll briefly mention a couple of peeves that I missed before: First, you don't have a world map. You just have a map with a line on which you run between destinations. And if you have to go through one destination to get to another, you have to go through the dungeon all over again. Let me elaborate-you have to get from point a to point c, but point b is in the way. You've already conquered point b, even beating a boss and everything. But you can't just go around it to get to point c. You have to play the whole area all over again. Second, for reasons completely unknown and senseless to me, you can only carry 32 items at a time.
I hope I've made my point now. Playing Legend of Dragoon is like seeing your favorite teen heartthrob in show: They'll promise you all of their love and respect, but when all is said and done, you're only going to go home and whack off. Legend of Dragoon promises an incredible rpg experience, but leaves you high and dry.
Legend of Dragoon was a game that really came out during the Playstations RPG renaissance. It came out after Final Fantasy VII, but then we discovered that development of the game started shortly after the success of said game. The hype and advertising was enough to make people believe it could be a Final Fantasy killer. So of course, a lot of people were drawn into that hype. In the end the game was no Final Fantasy killer. In the end it wasn't even enough of a rival. … more