of the Panzer Dragoon titles can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the
efforts of Smilebit. The acclaimed series is getting new wings early
next year on Microsofts Xbox system. Smilebit has opted to stick to the
roots of the Panzer Dragoon universe and formulate Orta as a shooter.
This wasnt an easy decision because the third title in the series,
Panzer Dragoon Saga, proved to be quite a competent RPG. If that news
dismays you, your sadness will be short lived I assure you. This title
is shaping up to blow the socks off action fans.
developers have no small task in bringing the Panzer universe up to
date. In the world of 3-D shooters Panzer Dragoon has quite a cult
following and for good reason. When the first installment was released
in 1995 for the Sega Saturn, gamers were introduced to visuals and
gameplay ahead of its time, not to mention an awesome concept. Not
resting on its laurels Sega followed up with Panzer Dragoon Zwei. This
time gamers were treated to the idea of their dragon evolving to meet
different challenges. Lastly came Panzer Dragoon Saga, the title that
put an RPG twist on the trilogy. The three games arguably represented
one of the sole reasons to own Segas fledgling system. Judging from the
shots weve seen and some limited time with the demo, Smilebit is quite
comfortable in those big shoes.
Panzer Dragoon Orta is claiming to push the Xboxs limits. Judging from
the demo, those claims are being made in good faith. Smilebit is known
for its visual prowess and Orta doesnt disappoint. Playing through the
opening scenes, I was treated to a wonderfully animated dragon with a
striking amount of detail complete with fluid animation. I must stress,
though, that once you lay eyes on your mount you must check your chin
for traces of drool because its gorgeous. The environments also sport
slick graphical touches, though paying too much attention to them will
only get you killed. Your enemies are detailed and fluid in their
assault. The opposing dragons are also a thrill to face.
Smilebit may have more than a few people holding their breath. While the
developers last foray, Gunvalkyrie, was quite a piece of eye candy, its
ambitious control scheme left many with a sour taste in their mouth. For
the most part Panzer Dragon Ortas controls are satisfactory. The
controls intuitively allow you to target enemies from all angles. Even
though your dragon is facing one direction, pushing the shoulder buttons
will cause your rider to turn and fire in all directions, even at
enemies directly behind you. You can easily manage your dragons
morphing as well. Unfortunately your control over the dragons movement
is a bit sluggish. This is especially frustrating during precision
maneuvers where the iffy control will spell pain for you and your mount.
Hopefully Smilebit will correct this before release.
with these quite correctable issues Panzer Dragoon Orta is shaping up to
be a formidable experience. The games mechanics faithfully create an
engrossing three- dimensional experience exploding all around you. I
really appreciate the ability to turn around and cap the guys who make
it by you without having to change course. Your dragons morphing
capabilities also add depth by letting you approach enemies and
scenarios in different ways. Each form has its own strengths and
weaknesses that must be learned in order to better exploit them. Your
dragon also has a lock-on ability where if you hold the firing button
several enemies will be targeted and exposed to a large blast,
compliments of your mount.
has also done a great job of building a solid relationship between you
and your dragon. Neither of you are stuck with all the work, so to
speak. At some points your gun will prove more useful such as scenarios
requiring a quick reaction. Other situations may place you in need of a
more powerful solution. At that point the extra heat your dragons
packing will come in handy.
fans are really in for a treat this holiday season. Even though well be
quite literally knee deep in quality titles, Panzer Dragoon Orta cant
afford to be overlooked. Smilebit has really worked hard and their
effort is showing big time. Fans have waited quite awhile to see a new
Panzer Dragoon title hit the shelves and judging by the way the game is
looking they wont be disappointed. This game has all the cards. We just
need to sit back and see if Sega and Smilebit can play them.