Recently I had my old copy of The Legend Of Dragoon, LoD for short, repaired and proceeded to blaze through that mother in a week and oh my lord if I hadn't forgotten what a bloody brilliant game it is. And so in its honour I decided to review it for all those who missed out on what could be one of if not the most brilliant JRPG of all time.
In my opinion the least important part of a game, especially if it's a rpg. LoD was released shortly after Final Fantasy VIII, December 1999 but wasn't on store shelves in Europe till 2001, by Sony and so obviously it's somewhat dated. However in my opinion the graphics still hold up pretty well and while playing it I couldn't help but smile as it immediately transported me back to the glory days of the rpg. For this review however I'll be comparing it to its nearest rival the previously mentioned Final Fantasy VIII. Out of the two I'd have to say that Final Fantasy VIII has the slight edge in cinematics (although LoD was the first rpg I played to actually have a voice cast a leap Final Fantasy didn't make till 10, so thumbs up) but in terms of in game graphics I'd say they're on par with each other. LoD however has some of the most beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds I have ever seen and at points literally makes your jaw drop with the sheer detail involved.
LoD's over world is very similar to that of Final Fantasy X with linear towns and points of interest connected by set paths, this obviously isn't as good as the more free roaming over world that you'd get in rpgs from a similar period but at the same time I didn't feel it detracted at all from the overall experience and it does help to move the storyline along quickly. The star of the show however is the battle system which takes the old turn based game play and adds a sort of quick time element in which you have to hit certain buttons, X mostly, to extend your attack to complete combos that increase the damage dished out by your characters, this was also used in the game Lost Odyssey but with less effect. Some may think of this as tampering but it helps address a lot of the problems that others have with turn based gameplay by keeping the player engaged, looking for more damage and avoiding counter-attacks.
LoD opens with the main protagonist, Dart, returning to his home from a failed quest to find and kill the person that murdered his parents only to find his village under attack and his close friend/love interest Shana captured by an invading empire. Dart sets out to rescue Shana but soon finds that things aren't as simple as a b c and his life is about to get a whole lot more complicated (I'm not going to tell you the whole thing you've got Wikipedia for that but lets just say you get dragon powers, yet another thumbs up). Being a JRPG LoD does suffer from melodrama syndrome to some extent but as most of the in game convos are in text it'll never really hit you, unlike the more modern fully voiced JRPGs. The story moves nicely and keeps you interested easily portraying the sense that you're a small man caught in an adventure epically bigger than you are. As well as this it never gets too silly or unbelievable and twists and turns will have you second guessing yourself and wanting to know more about the characters you're playing as and against. Fleshing out its characters with interesting back stories is yet another thing LoD does extremely well giving them all believable motivation or at least the sense that they've been swept up.
This one is going to be short, it’s a JRPG done by Sony you know its soundtrack is fantastic already. Sure there are probably better ones but it does its job of setting moods and conveying emotion well... and that’s all it needs to do.
I’ve played this game multiple times and it never bores me. It’s got a great story, engaging gameplay, characters that can be related to and dragons what more do you need guy? Nothing that’s what! This game is one of my all time favourites and takes pride of place in my collection. If you haven’t played it yet and you’re into RPGs you’d be a grade A* fool not to pick it up. Now here’s where we hit the biggest issue with the game, it’s as rare as a Faberge egg and nearly as expensive with a used copy easily setting you back £30-£40 (that’s $45-$60) on eBay or brand new from Amazon for a whopping £99 ($153). However when you get it it’s yours for life and it’ll never leave your game shelf except when it’s in your machine, and hell it can only get more rare so who knows you might even get more for it ten years down the road (I ain’t selling mine though)
An easy perfect 10 if there ever was one.