STAFF REVIEW of Panzer Dragoon Orta (Xbox)

Tuesday, January 28, 2003.
by Tony Ingrassia

Panzer Dragoon Orta Box art Panzer Dragoon Orta is a non-stop shooter with enogh excitement and bonus material to keep you going for quite some time. Add to that the stunning visuals, 5.1 Dolby Digital, and 480p HDTV and your set for an exciting treat for your gaming sences.

Most of us have played some sort of shooter or another, and what sets them apart is how interesting and different they are from one another. Well Panzer Dragoon Orta is about as interesting and different as they get. You are Orta, riding a dragon that has been thought to be long gone and could be the end of the Dragonmares. Your dragon has some pretty amazing trates, Guns, Homing Lasers, and a devistating Berserk attack. Your dragon also has the ability to morph from it's Base Wing form to Heavy Wing and Glide Wing, each with it's own special charecteristics and variation on the weapons. The key to this game is to learn well which type is best suited for the task at hand, in the beggining you'll sit with the version you feel most comfortable with and get agrivated at how hard it is to defeat some enemies, but as you learn to morph during battle it all becomes a very tacticle battle. Your dragon and each of it's "Morph's" can also level up as you progress by picking up "Gene Basis" these bases will go into a "DNA Counter" which when filled will level up your dragon, that is it will level up the dragon that picks it up, so again, learn to morph and keep all your versions strong. Of course the 360 degree fighting system is cool as hell. Being able to track enemies from vertually any position makes PDO a unique experience in the shooting genre. PDO consists of 10 levels in the story, which depending on your resolve, you may finish over a long weekend, but fear not Sega was nice enough to add some Sub Scenarios, Missions, and if you hadn't already heard, Unlocking the original Panzer Dragoon game. One other little extra is that some of the levels offer multiple routes to take, if your quick enough to notice. So as you complete levels you'll see which route you took and how many alternates there are. PDO is a game based on a point system, who can get the most points on the game garnishing the best grade (A,B,C,D,F) and also gives you a cute rankning to go with it, like "Gunner" if you just shoot the lights out. All these extras along with the "Flight Records" are stored in Pandoras Box, which i have to say is a nice looking interface, from there you can access just about anything. This leads me to the one thing i didn't like...the save system. The game is set up for one player to make it through the entire game, meening, if you stop on Episode 6 to let your little brother play and he stops and save on Episode 2 Easy mode, he will overwrithe your progress, this is idiotic, how hard would it have been to incorporate multiple saves via User?? Anyway, I can kinda look pass that because the game is addicting enough to where you may play through non-stop. Well worth the purchase, but if your new to the series you may want to do the weekend rental.

Where to start...PDO is one of the best looking games on the XBOX. 480p HDTV support obviouslly helps, but in general the Episodes are lavish and colorfull, particle effects, explosions are amazing. The morphing of your Dragon and the stylized Berserk attacks are also something to be seen. The best part of the entire aspect is that it's simply flawless when it comes to frame rate. With the speed of this game, that is a huge compliment. Not to mention when you have so much going on in the screen as you do at times there is no hickup what so ever, it's amazing. They also took the time to let the very slick cut scenes blend into the game from Episode to stunning Episode.

5.1 Dolby Digital and 360 degree fighting do the math. The sounds of PDO are just as impresive as the visuals. Well thought out, and well placed. Ambient sounds are abound and the in game soundtrack is pleasing without being annoying. You do have to suffer through subtitles because PDO is spoken in a foreign language througout, but most of the dialouge is during the cut sceens so fear not, you won't miss important info while trying to destroy your enemies.

Again, the save system so more of us can enjoy the game without repeating Episodes.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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