Enter the Dragoon
Growing up, almost every kid out there has asked their parents some kind of pet.
Some want ponies, some want hamsters and others want puppies. Then there was me.
I wanted a dragon. How cool would it be to have your own dragon? You could fly
to school, scare the hell out of the neighbor’s dog and toast the bullies at school.
Yes, a dragon would be the ultimate pet.
too many kids get dragons though. There was that Pete
kid out in Passamaquoddy,
but his dragon was kinda goofy. On the other hand, Sega’s Panzer Dragoon
Orta for the Xbox tells the story of a lucky girl named Orta, her very cool,
definately not goofy pet dragon and of course, the evil Empire. Throw in some
catchy tunes and it could be a Disney movie right? Well, maybe not, since death,
destruction and a whole lot of shooting kinda puts Mickey Mouse on edge. But
hey, at least it makes a great video game!
Panzer Dragoon Orta is the first installment of Sega’s popular dragon
shooter to hit the “next generation” of video gaming. It seems like ages since
the last time we had the chance to visit
the Panzer world. In fact, it’s been five years since we last saw the Dragoons
back in the Sega Saturn days. The good news is that Panzer Dragoon still hasn’t
lost the magic touch when it comes to shooters. Though simple in nature, there’s
still plenty going on to keep you on your toes. The bad news is that I have
no idea when the next one is coming out. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait another
The game begins on a dark night with our heroine about to become a light snack
for a few giant bioengineered dragonmares (think of them as a cross between
dragons and an Alien), when all of the sudden a familiar looking winged beast
stops by to save the day. Ancient gun in hand, Orta mounts the dragon and the
two of them set off on a crazy roller coaster ride through the land.
Panzer Dragoon Orta’s basic gameplay follows the standard guidelines
for your everyday rail shooter. Players travel down a predetermined path and
use a cursor to blast everything in sight. Sounds pretty simple, but Sega’s
got a little extra magic for its dragon.
If you’ve ever played the Panzer games, you know that Orta employs a full
360 degree view of the surroundings. Not only will you need to shoot the stuff
in front of you, you’ll also need to pay attention to what’s behind and to the
sides. It’s a really simple feature, but it makes the gameplay a lot more interesting.
The 360 degree view also gives you a chance to check out the very cool looking
Panzer world. Like previous games, Orta is filled to the brim with sweet sights.
Flying through the lush scenery is as amazing as ever and Orta easily flies
up to the top of the heap in the graphics category.
making a return is the evolution of the dragon during the course of the game.
Defeating certain enemies will yield a “gene base” and collecting enough of
them will level up the dragon, occasionally changing its look and making it
even more powerful than before.
But as cool as Orta’s dragon is now, it has one more quality that gives it
an extra punch – it’s a TRANSFORMER!
The dragon can morph between three different forms all at the simple touch of
a button. Naturally each form has its own strengths and weaknesses and finding
out exactly when to use them is an integral part of the game. First up is Base
Wing, the dragon’s “average” form. With mid-level agility and power, and the
ability to perform a seemingly endless number of target locks, the Base Wing
establishes itself as the most versatile of the dragon’s forms. Next is Heavy
Wing, the largest and most powerful of the dragon’s forms. It’s not as agile
as the other forms, but it packs a solid punch against even the largest of foes.
Glide Wing may be the smallest of all the dragon forms, but it can fly rings
around enemies and allows you to use a “machine gun” that’s great for taking
out incoming projectiles. Just figure out which situations call for which form
and you’re half way down the road to dragon piloting success.
Interestingly enough, Orta also has a branching path in each of its levels
(determined by the direction of your cursor at the time). This often leads to
completely different areas with completely different enemies. The fork in the
road isn’t always that obvious, but the ability to fly through different areas
of a single level add a little replay value to the game.
And speaking of replay, there’s plenty to do even after the main game is completed.
Orta boasts a large extras section known as “Pandora’s Box” that’s sure to keep
you coming back for more. Besides the mildly amusing films, illustrations and
records options, there’s also plenty of playable levels featuring other characters
and vehicles. Not only that, you can also play the full version of the original
Though it belongs to the limiting genre of rail shooters, Panzer Dragoon
Orta still rises up to become a great game that soars above and beyond expectations.
Even as a shooter, its superior control, astounding visuals and all-around enjoyable
gameplay come together for one hell of ride. I’d take this dragon for a pet