The Legend of Dragoon

A classic overlooked by many, appreciated by most who've played it. - 9/10

Review by Lavalord | Originally Posted: June 6, 2009, 23:24:02
Let's start with a favorite of so many, graphics. The opening movie is insane as far as detail goes, showing great quality in design and fluid movement. After that the game itself begins and we see the true level of the games design. In between battles the characters look fairly bland, amidst an incredibly rich designed background they can appear nearly as a well drawn cartoon blending into a grand back drop. The colors chosen lend themselves well to the characters, though anything that isn't the background or a main character looks very nearly completely out of place. The cutscenes themselves, while not totally up to par with the opening movie, are still quite well designed and executed. The other things to mention are the characters within battle and the battlefields it takes place in. The characters have fairly good detail as far as their designs are shown, and all the attacks are well designed with smooth movements. The only thing remaining to discuss is the battlefield itself. During combat the battle spaces are fairly well done with great emphasis on the grand appearance of the area you're in, the main things that stick out as a problem with the battlefield design are the blandness of the of the field itself you're within, always a steady clearing in which to fight with a grand environment about it, and the lack of variety within it. There's only a single area to fight within for each given area, thus showing the lack of depth spent on the actual combat despite its presence within the game.

The story is one of the main things that is focused on throughout the game, and I must say it's one of the most impressive displays you'll see for detail. Sure, most people give it only the first glance for what it is, a save-the-world RPG at its core. The problem with this is simply that its story evolves as you go through the game. It starts as a simple stop the war story, then becomes a solve the mystery and track down the culprit story, culminating in a save the world story within the final disc. Each one of these story pieces though is wonderfully detailed, with every major event having a part to play in the greater story at large. There are numerous mysteries within the game, with all of their significance and the results thereof showcased before the completion. If there is an event that is mentioned, there is a conclusion to it that shows the full scale of the results, including several optional bosses that result from key events happening far before the beginning of the game. The story itself is a bittersweet one for many, but it's overall a very solid wrap-up to the events taking place within the game.

The biggest and most evident thing to anyone first playing the Legend of Dragoon is the gameplay. It's a fairly standard turn based RPG, with a catch. In order to do real damage with any attacks you do, or gain the most powerful attacks in the game later, you must use a timing sight during each and every attack. Thus every battle you must be able to consistently peform strings of combinations of the X and O button, depending on the length of string and if the enemy chooses to counter-attack, as a method to increase your damage. The movement controls are simple for the purpose of travel, and the game is very linear in where you're allowed to travel to, the only exceptions being to the areas of the optional bosses and a single out of the way village which is part of one of the sidequests. The primary offensive and defensive form for any new player early in the game is the dragoon form, which grants you a form of armor based on which character is using it. This form boosts your attack and defense immensely in the early game, but toward the end its power is outweighed by that of the final attacks of the normal form of each character. Why use the dragoon form then? Well, for starters you still take less than half the damage you otherwise would, and you gain access to several different forms of magic, a powerful offense for certain characters while a near handicap for others. The final things to discuss within gameplay would be the attack spell items. These are fairly useful items that you can find lying about mostly anywhere, are dropped by select enemies, and can be bought in most stores. The catch? You need several to make any given magic user helpful in a real fight, and you have a 32 item limit.

Next let's take a listen at the music and sounds of the Legend of Dragoon. There're several different songs which give a feeling of the general mood of any given scene, the main that you'll actually "hear" actively is the song that plays in any scene where you are getting geared up for some big challenge. The rest of the game has a fairly melodious soundtrack, though personally I find it just a minor feature as you rarely if ever really hear it over the sounds of the attacks you perform. The final sound worth noting in the music department is that of the song playing as you have the menu open, a song that you'll either love or hate, and likely will grow to hate if you leave the menu open too long. The sounds of the battle themselves are interesting. The attacks are well synched to the sounds of battle, with the single exception of a few individual dragoon spells. The main problem many have with the sound in this game is that of the voice acting. For the individual attacks it's fine, but for some of the later parts of the game within cutscenes it gets to be absolutely horrid for at least one character. The other actors at least sounded like they had experience, but a single one sounds like a total failure.