Stock up on bandages cause if there’s a videogame that will give you blisters, Panzer Dragoon Orta is that game. Ten episodes packed tight with non-stop action, you’re going to be pressing a lot of buttons. The sequel to the beloved Sega series certainly drew the attention of many old Panzer fans. Does Sega have what it takes to please both the hardcore and casual, old school and new school gamers alike? Read and find out.
Panzer Dragoon Orta takes place in a fictional world ruled by a group of people called the Imperials. The game puts the player in the role of Orta, a war droid feared by almost everyone. The Imperials lock up Orta so her unknown powers can’t be used against them. Then a mysterious dragon frees her from her prison. Her quest to learn about herself and the world that is so afraid of her begins. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t tell you too much more about the story. It is very unclear for most of the game and the fact that dialogue is in another language doesn’t help (there are subtitles but its easy to miss a lot of information).
This is one of the nicest looking games on any system. Sure the game play graphics are nice but the cut-scenes are extremely stunning. The opening scene will easily drop your jaw like several other parts of the game. Each episode takes Orta through a huge environment. Some of the levels would be a photographer’s paradise. The vast landscape and varied visuals give a real lively feel to the whole game.
Music is usually unnoticeable in Panzer. Yet playing without it would feel wrong, which is the ideal way music should be played in videogames. There aren’t many songs but they are used in a way so that they never get boring. All the sound effects, from the splashing of water to the crushing of metal, are right on target. Unfortunately, as I said before, none of the dialogue is in English so I can’t really judge the clarity of the voices or any of those aspects.
Panzer Dragoon Orta is a rail-shooter, a genre becoming more and more rare in videogames. A rail-shooter lets the player concentrate on the shooting part while the navigation is mostly programmed. This means you’ll never be going around in circles wondering were to go next. At the same time this would get tiresome for some people, especially those who aren’t particularly shooter fans.
This game is all about action. By the end of the game you will have only spent 15 minutes not firing a weapon. Throughout the entire game three dragons are available for play and all can be accessed anytime very easily. Each dragon has its own strengths and weaknesses as well as a special attack. This adds a lot of strategy to the game play and provides some extra replay value.
Each episode has one main boss and usually some sort of sub-boss. All boss fights are won the same way: find a routine and stick to it. An average boss fight lasts 5 to 10 minutes depending on the players skill level. Fights usually consist of flying around a boss and finding a weak point. Although a bit repetitive the fights are pretty fun.
Controls may strike you as being different then most shooters but in no time at all you’ll realize how good they actually are. Instead of using the trigger buttons to fire, their function is to rotate the screen. This means during the bigger battles enemies will be all around you. Instead of aiming to the corner of the screen like an arcade game you can rotate your screen 0 degrees and be nice and centered on the enemies. Still don’t get it? Understandable, its hard to explain but it fits in perfectly with the rest of the control scheme and it takes no time getting used to.
Although Panzer Dragoon Orta is a relatively short game there is enough replay value to keep one playing long after the main game ends. As you play through the episodes you will unlock features in Pandora’s Box. Besides being able to look at Flight Records from past levels, you can also play through several different scenarios like playing as an Imperial youth or Mobo, though I am not sure what he is. There are other cool surprises that you’ll have to find out for yourself.
In terms of non-stop action and beauty Panzer Dragoon Orta is the best Xbox has to offer. What the main game lacks in length is made up for by a bunch of awesome unlockables. Panzer Dragoon Orta is an instant classic but two aspects keep it from being a masterpiece: Unclear story and repetitiveness. In spite of those two flaws, every self-respecting Xbox owner should have this game.
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