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Drakan: The Ancients' Gates (PlayStation 2)

78
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Dwango (292)
Written on  :  Jun 07, 2005
Rating  :  2.83 Stars2.83 Stars2.83 Stars2.83 Stars2.83 Stars
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Summary

A Promising RPG that Feels Unfinished.

The Good

Gameplay:

While simplistic, the game play is interesting enough to warrant some interest. There are two modes.

One is with Arok, where you will explore the land to discover what opposition you will find. Many opposing dragons will appear and attack, and you must be quick and smart enough to evade their attacks, while best using your own. This can be interesting enough, but feels somewhat limited in scope, as moving around can be quite cumbersome, without quick response.

Second is when Rynn is alone, and then you are playing a third person RPG. You have three paths to follow, or spread out your points on all three paths: Magician, Archer, and Warrior. Each must use their own skill to take advantage of, as a warrior must learn to dodge and parry, a magician must learn to stay away from the enemy and use magic to protect oneself, and an archer must stay some distance away from enemies and use landscape items, such as explosive barrels to advantage.

By about mid-way, the game gets into a rhythm of talking to people to get quests, exploring the land, and defeating bosses. The NPCs start out rather interesting and you wish you could have known them more, including your own PCs. Too bad it gets derailed later in the game as the rush to finish becomes apparent.

Graphics: The landscapes are serviceable and even have some surprises. The dragon motions are fluid and impressive. The backdrops feel real enough and add to atmosphere. Interiors are properly set and add to the tense feeling, especially the dark catacombs.

Sound: Voice acting is rather good. I never once winced when I heard the villains speak their evil voice. Smaller NPCs are convincing and don't feel like poor acting done on a dime.

The Bad

Gameplay: The worst sin of this game is the feel of not being finished. When you go after the enemy desert lords, the game just doesn't have the same feel. It is just fighting a few unconnected battles with some bosses and it never once feels as if this is a great and powerful enemy ready to crush you, as if felt early in the game. And the ending is absolutely disappointing, tacked on at the last minute. You won't feel very rewarded for all the effort it takes to open all the gates.

Meanwhile, the NPCs you meet early in the game seem to have no role in the end game, no wrap up of how they are. This includes your own player characters, as you get no more information about them as you had when you started, despite some early promise of depth. This leaves all the characters feeling two-dimensional.

The areas of the game also aren't very consistent with size. Some are vast areas that have much to explore. Others are so short; you will only be there for a few moments. This can lead to some areas wanting more, while others becoming repetitive as you kill the same number of enemies.

Bosses are all about cheap tricks. Very few are outright good fights with a lot of challenge. Most disappointing are Arok's fights that are just dodging and blast battles with little strategy involved. And there were promises of many such battles early in the game, but they never materialized. Maybe all the better.

Sound: Very repetitive pieces are the mainstay of the game. They give some atmosphere to the game with sound sets that fit the background, but then they repeat them so much throughout each area, they actually become annoying. Only the main song stays with you, and that is overused as well.

Story: It’s another, find all the pieces of some great puzzle, an over used device. Plus, the story has little point, with small promises here and there or some twists, none that really happen matter. And, without character development, who really cares.

The Bottom Line

Drakan it an action role-playing game that has a lot of promise. It feels as though it is wide open, but this is shown for a trick of mapping and become more blatantly linear as you progress. It feels as if the characters are going to burst out with new realizations and interesting insights, but none ever develop. It appears as if there is some grand enemy waiting to over run the land, but they seem to forget to bring their troops and their grand scheme is a cheap trick.

If you enjoy hack and slash, you might enjoy some of the game play, but don't expect much more, as they brought the promise, but not the fulfillment.