Drakan The Ancient Gates
Genre Action -> Adventure
Today's Rank 25801
Date N/A
Publisher S.C.E.E.
Date 2002-07-05
United Kingdom Retail Box ArtThe premise of Drakan will be nothing new to gamers: it follows the clichéd fantasy exploits of a girl and her dragon sent on a deadly quest. Sound familiar? Thankfully the success of such games doesn't always depend purely on the storyline; the actual execution and gameplay can make even the most jaded gamer overlook the poor scripting and clichés. Drakan first appeared on the PC a few years ago and boasted fantastic graphics, huge atmospheric worlds to explore, and a dynamic in the gameplay that removed basic linear progression by allowing you to go anywhere by flying there on your companion, a dragon--those mountains in the distance were not beyond the gaming area, you could actually fly to them and explore them individually. Sadly the game was underappreciated and became lost in the myriad of third-person adventures that flooded the market at the time due to the continuing success of the Tomb Raider franchise. This PS2 version is not a remake, nor is it a straight sequel. The Ancients' Gates offers up a brand new quest, and Drakan newcomers are eased into the action as the finer points of combat and dragon riding are taught to the player in the initial training level. It soon becomes apparent that the game lacks some of the creativity and the strategy of the PC original, having turned it into a much more linear hack-'n'-slash romp. Enemies charge head first at you with rather simplistic AI, and as you progress you collect a number of skill points that you can assign to perfecting various new skills. Despite its more linear nature, though, the levels are vast and it's easy to get sidetracked on your missions. Graphically the landscapes are very atmospheric and range from the usual fare of caves and towns to swamps and icy tundras. A nice feature of the PS2 version allows players to cast spells by tracing out specific shapes with the analogue stick. Particle and lighting effects look fantastic during spell-casting and add a different slant to the combat when you get tired of swinging increasingly bigger swords. Drakan is an enjoyable if not groundbreaking adventure and seems to lend itself fairly well to the console market, despite the long load times. Fans of the original game will find this a much more shallow experience, but newcomers will find much to keep them occupied with more than enough lands to explore in the colossal levels.--Chris Ryan
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