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Videogame Review: Drakengard 2 (PlayStation 2)


The story in the game that is Drakengard 2 picks up eighteen years after the previous game, coincidentally called Drakengard. I have neither played nor even heard of that game before, but apparently it had something to do with a dragon. Anyways, you start off playing as a dude named Nowe (pronounced like "No Way"). You have a sword, which you know how to swing from side to side, and luckily it's big enough so that if bad guys are near you, it will hit them. And if some big bad meanie happens to be jumping at you, then you can swipe that big blade of yours upwards to knock the attacker clean out the air. But now lets say that you feel like putting a little spring in your own step... well in that case, you can leap into the air and swing that big hunk of metal so that it smashes the ground once gravity takes over.

Ah, but you're supposed to be some sort of super-skilled fighter here, so you've gotta have more skills than that swinging a blade! Yes, it's true, you can also fire magic out of your hand to help clear out a crowd of evil-doers. Of course, that only works if you have magic power build up, which you earn by kicking ass and taking names. And while magic can be useful at time, it is totally unnecessary if all you want to do is show off your mad gymnastic skills, like side-stepping or back-flipping... yeah, okay, so maybe I exaggerated his "mad gymnastic skills". Well, when all else fails, you can always call for your adopted father to come pick you up... literally! Did I forget to mention that his adopted father is a dragon?

Once you take to the air on your winged father figure, you can do the basics like speed up, slow down, and shoot deadly fireballs from your mouth. Sometimes you'll have to do some air-to-air combat against giant bat-like creatures or gargoyles or other such air creatures, and then other times you'll get to use your hulking mass of dragon to spit fire-lugies down upon the groundlings. Strangely enough, this isn't as exciting as it seems. The air battles aren't too challenging, especially since you get to have homing-fire-lugies, and the air-to-ground battles are just not fair to the other side. You can pretty much take out a whole legion without ever getting scratched. The downside is that since your human characters aren't leveling up by battling that way, they will be weaker when you actually do have to find on the ground (such as in dungeons).

Ah, I forgot to mention that you can play as more human characters than just Nowe. You start out with Nowe, but quickly get a girl named Manah added to your party, and then a little later two more people will join you. You can switch between them anytime you want while your on the ground (only Nowe can ride the dragon), which sure is convenient when one of them is about to die since they each have their own hit points gauge. To switch, just bring up the menu wheel and turn it to the weapon of the person you want. Then a light will surround your existing character and replace him or her with your newly selected character. What would have been really cool is if they would have made this a two player game, but alas, they didn't, so there's no point in dwelling on what could have been.

The story here is a decent one, but honestly, I was more concerned with getting on with it so I could hack and slash hordes of bad guys. Once you complete a stage, you have the option of moving on to the next stage or just embarking on some freelance missions. I definitely recommend doing the freelance missions before proceeding on, as they'll help to not only give more practice, but to level up your characters and weapons as well so that they next stage won't be quite as hard. That being said, the real thing that makes this game hard is the camera. You'll often find yourself manually manipulating the camera to try for a better view, and that can be challenging when you're in the middle of a battle surrounded by dozens of bad guys who all want to take you down!

Then what really sucks is when you get in a position such as a corner where the camera is so tight that you can't even see your character, so you end up having a nice view of the bad guy swinging his sword right into the camera. And can you get out of it? Nooooooo, 'cause as soon as you start to stand up, he swings again and knocks you down, and continues doing this until you are nothing more than a hunk of meat laying on the ground at his feet, at which point you then have to start the entire stage over again. So yeah, Drakengard 2 can surely be frustrating at times, yet it was still one of the more enjoyable games I've played in a while, and it wasn't something I was just able to blast through in a couple days.

The graphics in this title are definitely not the best out there, but they're not the worst either. They're good enough to get the job done, and that's all that really matters. I though the voice acting in here was pretty good too, but thought that the voice directing could have been better. If you were to remove all the story and dialog from the game, then this title would be very reminiscent of that classic hack and slash arcade smash Golden Axe, so if you loved that game then odds are you'll enjoy this one as well. I guess the bottom line here is to just ask yourself whether or not you like hacking and slashing and hacking and slashing and hacking and slashing....

Drakengard 2 will be released starting April 15, 2006 by Square-Enix. Check out the official Drakengard 2 website for more information

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