Panzer Dragoon Orta
Genre Action -> Shoot Em Up
Today's Rank 17379
USA
Date N/A
Publisher Sega
UK
Date 2003-03-21
Publisher Atari
Panzer Dragoon: Orta is a quintessential action game with deceptively simple gameplay. You ride on the back of a flying dragon, blasting enemies and incoming missiles while your scaly friend soars along a predetermined path through gorgeous fantasy landscapes. Floating power-ups serve as tasty rewards to players who are particularly apt at dishing out carnage. Gigantic boss monsters make regular appearances, each one challenging the player to decipher the particular boss's attack pattern and weak points. While its core gameplay is the very definition of old school, Panzer Dragon: Orta is much more than a shooter on rails. The dragon that Orta rides can shift into three forms: light, medium, and heavy. Success depends on a player's ability to quickly shift between forms in order to take advantage of the particular abilities of each. The medium form is useful in most situations. The light form is fast and maneuverable, ideal for quickly shooting down swarms of projectiles or attaining a favorable tactical position. The heavy form presents a slow, big target, but sports the most damaging weapons in the game. The shape-shifting aspect adds depth to the game, especially considering that each form can be upgraded with power-ups and enables a unique special ability. Clever shifting strategy and a sharpshooter's eye earn a player much more than victory and power-ups. Skilled players are rewarded with extras such as passages of Panzer Dragoon fiction, concept sketches, additional playable characters, extra missions, and even the original Panzer Dragoon game from 1995. The goodies celebrate the rich history of the Panzer Dragoon series, and fill in the background of the game's unfolding story. The story is worthy of praise. The game tells the tale of Orta, a young woman who is freed from lifelong imprisonment at the beginning of the game by a wondrous shape-shifting dragon. You play as Orta as she and her dragon blast their way through an oppressive empire's legions of soldiers and bioengineered monsters, all the while seeking the truth behind Orta's imprisonment and destiny. Disappointingly, the genuinely interesting story is told through subtitles instead of spoken English. Subtitles would be fine for slow sections or noninteractive cutscenes, but Orta's text is displayed during pitched battles. The frantic pace and constant action demand the player's full attention, making it difficult to read text when you're desperately gunning down 20 incoming missiles while dodging around a cliff wall and trying to draw a bead on a flying battleship's weak point. In other words: the game is so good, you shouldn't be forced to take your eyes off the action for even a second. Challenging, rewarding, and beautiful, Panzer Dragoon: Orta stands with Halo as one of the must-have Xbox games. --Mike Fehlauer Pros: Gorgeous graphics Varied gameplay; three dragon forms add depth Excellent extras Cons: Subtitles Easy mode isn't
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