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SummaryOrc: 'You No Take Shiney, My Shiney!' Hero: 'Sorry Big Fella I Need The Shiny.'
The GoodThe Dreamcast, was such a versatile gaming machine, from amazing experiences like Shenmue, fighters like Virtua Fighter 3, RPGS like Grandia II, and platformers like Sonic Adventure, it seems that the Dreamcast had a great game in every genre, including less popular ones such as the “slash ’em up”. Draconus: Cult Of The Wyrm, is the perfect example of that genre, and the amazing flexibility of the once and future Dreamcast console.
You are the “Dragon’s Bane”, or the fifth incarnation of it to be more precise, either as Cynric the warrior, or Aeowyn the sorceress, you must travel the shattered kingdom, and save it from certain destruction, from the insidious cult of the wyrm. ( That means dragon.)
The game spans many interesting locals, from the village of the elves, high in the treetops, to a flying castle, and a haunted ruin or a cathedral. You bring death to your foes be they Orcs, goblins, and even mighty dragons via swords, axes, and the arcane arts. Each playable character has their +/- side. I found Cynric to be more capable, than his quasi “sister” as he can use weapons better and is a capable mage. Whilst Aeowyn, is not a very good fighter, but kicks ass with here knowledge of the Arcane. Fans of mage’s will be drawn to her, and don’t worry about missing anything fighter fans, the plot is identical regardless of which warrior you choose, only the way the game plays changes. Cynric’s game is easy, Aeowyn’s hard.
And yes, Draconus, features RPG elements as well, though I would not go as far as some Moby Gamers, and compare it to Diablo, as that would belittle, the name of Draconus which is… Draconus. To “level up” you must complete missions and can also opt to find blessing wisps, these are hidden throughout missions, and collecting five allow an extra point to advance a stat. Advancements include: Rank, Offence, Defense, and the various magic schools. HP increases with rank, weapons with offence, etc.
Vae Victus! I mean I will now talk about battles. In battle you face various foes in real time, where you slash and hack, block with a shield, or toast you foes with magic! The combat is visceral and can be quite deep, and satisfying. The swordplay steals the show here. When you attack, you move the analog stick in conjunction with the attack button, and this allows control over swings, swing high, low, sweep you blade down, or just impale enemies with it! Or use your shield for protection, or as a weapon. You can strafe in battle allowing you to avoid nasty blows, and if you happen to take one simply quaff a potion from your item inventory, without having to bring up a new screen, items are used in real time, nice.
Combo’s are a lot of fun, and Draconus packs these in spades. There are tons of combos to unleash upon your foolhardy foes, from the more simplistic triple shield bashing, to kickass, doomsday sword slashing combos.
The graphics are good. Not the best the DC has to offer, but good for an early title. The blood spilling effects are interesting to watch, and make me wonder how this game got by with just a Teen rating.(In the US.) Weapons and armor look cool, as do the monsters and races of this dark fantasy world. Great view distances, and lighting effects also help the game look real. And the variety of areas you explore from the darkest catacombs, to the greenest hills all areas look great and unique.
The sound department is solid. The music in the game is great and memorable, the tunes always convey the sense of wonder that fantasy is supposed to inspire. The sound effects are good as well, from the sound as your blade cuts down another goblin, to the death rattles of the bosses, aural pleasure this is. The voice acting is damn good. And don’t be surprised to hear a familiar voice, as many well known actors lend there talents here. From Richard Takai(Star Trek), to the late Tony Jay.(Remember him as the Transcendent One, in Planescape Torment?)
Finally, the controls, are well plotted and never a hindrance. Always a good thing in action games.
The BadThe game can suffer from slow down, which, is a annoying. And you can only save in between missions. Sure there are quick saves during levels, but as soon as you shut off the console, they are gone. D’oh!
We will never see a sequel to this most excellent Dreamcast game. The closet you might get is Enclave, for the Xbox and PC, but that’s another review for another day.