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Old 01-20-2003, 10:22 PM   #29
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550

Panzer Dragoon Orta - X-Box - Rating 4
PDO, developed by Smilebit, is probably Sega's biggest game yet for any of the new systems. Featuring graphics that make the other Panzers look bad in comparison (what did you expect between an X-Box and Saturn?) and level designs which range from the astounding (Stage 7 - Forgotten Dreams) to the cold and lifeless (a lot of others like Stage 5). There's so much to shoot at that it's insane, with enemies that almost never repeat between stages. However, here is where the game's major flaw comes into play: on hard you're almost fighting with the enemy fire moreso than the enemies themselves (try Stage 4 on hard and tell me I'm wrong). However, in some stages this isn't as big an issue as with others.
Your dragoon can morph between 3 forms, and all of them can level up, thus, changing into a more powerful form. There's the standard offensive form which can accelerate and slow down, dash, shoot, and lock-on to multiple enemies at once (in the area of 8 or so). Then there's defensive form which cannot accelerate or slow down but can shoot, and its lock-on shots, while small in number, deal the most damage. And then there's the speed form which can evade better than any other form due to smaller size and faster movement, accelerate and slow down, and shoot rapid fire out faster than any other form (useful for taking out enemy fire and multiple weaker enemies), however, it has no lock-on. All forms have a berserk attack which really punishes the enemies/bosses, with the defensive form's berserk being the most lethal. You can turn the camera 90 degrees in any direction with either L or R on top of the contorller, and if you press them simultaneously it turns 180 degrees. With so much to control, things can get a bit confusing, especially under heavy enemy fire and/or fast speeds (and this game gets pretty fast). I would've preferred one dragoon form that transforms as seen in PD Zwei because this allows for one to focus more on what's going on on-screen rather than the dragoon all the time. You'll need to learn how to transform effectively and speedily, especially versus some of the bosses. Speaking of bosses, half of them are rather dull to fight, like the statue in Stage 4 which keeps putting up a defensive shield (it's horribly designed). However, some bosses are a treat (Stage 5 for one).
There's a tremendous amount of stuff that can be unlocked in the pandora's box. If you play the game for 20 hours most of the stuff opens, including the original Panzer game (that's right). However, in order to open EVERYTHING you'll have to get an S ranking on every stage on the hard setting, so I hope you've got a lot of spare time... Most of the stuff you can open, like the side missions, I felt were pointless and even boring. Others, like the cinema and art galleries, are more worthwhile and you can open a lot of that stuff on easy/normal setting.
The music is good in parts and bad/boring in others; it's almost as good as PD Zwei's soundtrack and probably better than the PD Saga's soundtrack, which was a letdown. None have equalled the original Panzer's soundtrack. The sound effects are very good, as you would expect them to be, with Maaya Sakamoto (a popular guitarist/singer from Japan) providing the voice of Orta, the game's low on self-esteem, devoid of feeling (at first) heroine. She (Maaya) also did the lead voice in PD Saga, the Saturn RPG I fortunately have a copy of.
And that's basically the game. It's not as fun as Starfox (in my opinion) but once you get to know the game, you'll find it to be rewarding in some ways and quite a bit lacking in others. I still think PD Zwei is the best in the series, but then again that's just me. PDO is pretty fun on easy but aggravating on hard.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 03-22-2004 at 09:02 AM.
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