Legend of Dragoon Review

While it's a good first try, Sony's inexperience with the genre shows through, resulting in a highly generic RPG with some out-of-this-world FMV.

After Final Fantasy VII hit the streets, RPGs finally got their due. As the laws of economics dictate, this spurred everyone to develop RPGs. Envying Square and touting similarly large-budget potential, Sony itself entered the fray with The Legend of Dragoon. While it's a good first try, Sony's inexperience with the genre shows through, resulting in a highly generic RPG with some out-of-this-world FMV.

The Legend of Dragoon starts out the same way as many other RPGs. The spiky-haired Dart already has one vendetta against the mysterious Black Devil, who killed his father, but it's time he had another. For unknown reasons, the Sandora Empire burns down his village and imprisons his childhood friend, Shena. Infuriated, Dart impulsively storms out to rescue Shena. Shena's kidnapping is merely the tip of the iceberg of a much grander, more sinister motive. During his globe-spanning quest, Dart is transformed into a Dragoon, a warrior cloaked with the power of the Dragon of Fire. To defeat the Sandora Empire, Dart will have to find the other six Dragon Spirits and people to use them so the Legend of Dragoon may be fulfilled. Along the way, the magical septet will learn about one another, accrue additional vendettas, and save the world.

The Japanese have a word for stories and setups as predictable as this - sentai. The name was given to the expansive, formulaic Japanese Power Rangers genre, and the only thing that doesn't scream sentai here is that there are seven "rangers" instead of the more traditional five. Dart, for example, fits into the typical leader position, as he is clad in red. Before too long, you'll be able to easily predict who will join the party simply by the color of their outfit rather than whether they have a character portrait or not.

With a story so trite and borrowed, one would hope the gameplay was at least a little different. Arguably it is, but not at all in any of the right ways. You guide Dart, with the rest of the party cleverly concealed on his person, around prerendered backgrounds and get in random encounters with monsters, much like the recent offerings of the Final Fantasy series. Eschewing magic almost altogether, The Legend of Dragoon relies on its more mundane "Additional System" for spice. When attacking, you must tap the button as the character connects multiple times, allowing said character to perform a stronger attack. Only one such Additional may be used at a time, gradually gaining strength the more times it's successfully used. Every few levels the characters will get new Additionals that can be turned on from the submenu, but only one can be used at a time, forcing you to watch and tap out the same attack over and over again. Once your characters have the ability to transform into Dragoons, Additionals also charge the character's spirit meter. Once the meter is full, the character can transform into a Dragoon and remain that way for one turn for every time you fill the meter. As a Dragoon, you have two options - Dragoon Additional or Dragoon Magic. The former prompts you to tap a button four times consecutively to charge a meter, which results in a powerful aerial assault on the enemy. The latter fits the standard definition of magic, but on a grander, more time-consuming scale.Without general access to magic, how do you heal your party? Legend of Dragoon relies heavily on defending, a first for RPGs. Not only does defending halve all damage taken from enemies, but it also restores 10 percent of the character's max hit points. This fact, combined with a limited inventory and a short supply of money, means you're going to be spending a lot of time defending. In fact, defending for five or ten turns in a row when fighting a boss is not only common but also necessary. With so many steps required to fight bosses, heal, or use magic, Legend of Dragoon sports some of the longest and most tedious monster encounters in any RPG to date. Expect to get bored quickly with spells and attacks that you've already seen a thousand times before.

Legend of Dragoon lacks a visual style to make it interesting to look at - the character designs are missing personality and innovation, with characters often only describable by the color of their clothing. The world, too, follows the same line of thinking, resulting in a boring world rendered by some rather talented 3D artists. The large number of CG movies that fill the game's four discs are technically impressive, but they still lack that certain visual edge needed to really captivate you. The real-time 3D graphics, however, aren't as technically impressive as the prerendered stuff. Fraught with rendering errors that seemed to disappear long ago from most other PlayStation games and being low on textures, the game's real-time graphics fit somewhere in between the flat-shaded sameness of Final Fantasy VII's art and Final Fantasy VIII's textured wonders. The models themselves are blocky and heavily jointed. As Legend of Dragoon is generally devoid of magic, the minor spell effects aren't impressive in the least, and the Dragoon magic sequences are overdone and overlong. The game's sound is neither technically nor aurally impressive, relying on hackneyed instrument samples and uninteresting musical composition to push the game along. While token voices do appear in CG scenes or when characters call their moves, they don't particularly add to the experience.

Sony's on the right track, but it's got a ways to go before it can hope to produce an RPG with the polish of a Square game - pieces of the puzzle are here, but the overall experience just isn't there. Legend of Dragoon borrows too heavily from other games and lacks that "hook" to make it worth dealing with excessive defending, a thin story you'd expect to see on Power Rangers, and aural competence.

The Good
N/A
The Bad
6.4
Fair
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27 comments
Geowil
Geowil

Another in a sea of biased and incomplete reviews from Gamespot.  Been like this for years and I do not believe it is getting any better.  LoD was extremely popular back in the day because it was different. It was not about saving the world, it was about many different and complex interwoven plot lines which change over time as other characters come in and augment them.


I have a hard time believing this reviewer actually played the game all the way through.  More likely he played maybe to disk 2 then read up on the rest on a wiki or some site somewhere.

Princess_Rectum
Princess_Rectum

I was always of the opinion that this game was mostly enjoyed by people who see to think they're "radicals" or "unique" by preferring a non-Final Fantasy RPG.  This game (while not awful) is heavily flawed and really can't be held in the same regard as various RPG greats. The characters' backstories and personalities are generic and you can pretty much predict exactly how they're going to act in any given situation.  Dart is looking for the man who killed his father? Creative!  Whenever Dart + Shana have a tender moment together, they start playing that predictable, overplayed childhood music box jingle.  Who didn't see that coming? 


The battle sequences and battle animations reminded me of Dragonball Z and I've never seen a single episode.  Let that sink in.


The addition system was just a desperate attempt to have something relatively unique for a battle system.  Tapping the button at the correct time was a misguided attempt to make a menu-based battle system seem more engaging.  I'm not sure if anyone else feels this way, but I felt it was flawed a bit.  I swear more than a few times I hit the X button at the precise time but it wouldn't give it to me!  Lame!


One thing I thought was odd about this game was that there was a real void of any strategy (for lack of a better word) in picking who will be in your party.  Certain characters are by far weaker in every way than others.  I swear Albert was completely useless -- 2 attacks and he's down.  Every time.


The FMVs are nice, but the voice acting is utterly terrible AND unsynced!  The lines don't match with the mouth movements.  I hope someone got fired for that.


If you want a kick ass non-Square RPG, try Legend of Legaia.


PS I have no idea why this text is in all italics.  lol.

Asharel
Asharel

This is a biased opinion and nothing more, i would say this game rivals final fantasy at its finest and its the only game i come back to when i am bored, the combat is nice and challenging, the animations are great for its time period and the world in and of itself is massive, i would say try it, just try it and get sucked in :)

ristactionjakso
ristactionjakso

lol, wtf? Im playing this game right now. I have about 15 hours in it and love it. Current gen consoles are lacking great rpg's like this. This game is great. If you want a good jrpg, buy this game.

SirenAries
SirenAries

i agree with the review. while i like the combat, the story is awful, the characters are bland and the fights are too drawn out.  its a good game, but great? no way.  if your not hooked by the story and characters, then its game over for an rpg. you guys know that.  im playing it now on vita and its fun, but hard to stay interested in bland dialogue and story. you should have also been able to counter the attacks like paper mario. blocking should be timed as well as the attack additions. seems lazy

FreeRPGer
FreeRPGer

I am re-playing this game now, in November 2012, for the first time since the year 2000, and I'll say this game is still great, even by today's standards. This reviewer is giving his own biased opinion, and that is ALL. This has a very good story and has likable characters. I get into the battle system, as well. I'll hand it to Sony for this one. Now, Sony just NEEDS to do a sequel or prequel already! 

Korgamer84
Korgamer84

This game had engaging combat systems, very likeable characters, and i wouldn't say the story was bad either.  This reviewer doesn't know how to reconize a good game. 

Korgamer84
Korgamer84

this game was soo good i give it a 9 easy. some gamespot reviews like this makes me doubt their professional gaming skills. 

mitch318
mitch318

I cant believe this review this was the best game on ps1 I have ever played I still play this game and not once after multiple playthroughs have I gotten bored of the attack system and I dont need to defend that much.

Guardian_Ryu
Guardian_Ryu

Disappointed with gamespot on this one. Normally I agree with their reviews but cmon. I remember begging my parents for this game when it first came out for christmas. Finally I got it and couldn't turn it off till I finished it. Seriously anyone reading this review, try the game out for yourself. Obviously ever RPG has similarities.....and the thing that pisses me off the most is the graphics were the one thing that was mentioned as a positive. RPG's nowadays all just focus on the graphics while the storyline and character development is terrible. Dart is an awesome main character....as well as the others, and SHANA....

Dread87
Dread87

Wow just wow. This is by far the most inaccurate view of a game I have ever seen. The thing that made me laugh the most was how there you get barely any gold. Whenever I was done with a dungeon or big area and made it to the city I always had just the right amount of gold to stay a night at the inn, stock up on healing potions, buy all new weaponry, and I still would have a little left over only because I never run away from the enemies. Secondly the story line is amazing and continues to blow me away as I play it. Thirdly you spelled Shana wrong which shows me that you either havnt played this game in a long time or played it for twenty minutes and decided to write a review. What makes me so upset about this review is that in the future when people are looking for a sweet RPG to play and they look this up they are going to assume its a bad game based off of this absolutely horrible review. Look at the user score 8.9. Look at all the comments below me. NO ONE agrees with you. The combat system is the best part of the game. Rather than most RPG games where it is just press X and they attack you actually have to use the addition system wisely preparing to use O quickly to counter while hitting the buttons just right not too fast or slow to finish the addition and level it up. So if anyone is reading this and are deciding whether or not to play this game please do it. You will not regret playing one of the greatest games on the playstation. 

Serafel-SS
Serafel-SS

The amount of bias in this review made me vomit in my mouth. I honestly don't think this person played more than 20 minutes of the first disc. And her name is SHANA* for god's sake!

 

Dart does not "seek out" the other six Dragoon spirits to save the world; he meets people who eventually become Dragoons because they're deemed worthy by the spirits themselves.

 

As for the addition system, that's what made battles in this game so intriguing! The later additions actually take practice to master; you can't just sit there and spam attack. Some additions have 6 parts to them, that can have counters in them at any point! If you don't do your additions right, you can't use your dragoon form effectively either.

 

This game is wonderfully designed, and a great RPG for it's time. However, this review makes it seem like a mundane piece of garbage. Game reviews have to be informative and include pros and cons, you biased FF fanboy.

vettech1991
vettech1991

This is the most RIDICULOUS thing I have ever read. Can we for one minute consider what this obviously uninformed ( since he obviously did not play the game), just said. Of COURSE it's going to be similar to the FF layout, it was only the biggest RPG since sliced toast. Now, that being said, this review is flawed in many ways. The fact that this critic has a problem with RPG similarities is a joke, granted I can understand that at the time there were not many RPG's on the market. HOWEVER, saying that it was unoriginal is ridiculous. Every RPG follows the same format, just as every sports game follows the same format and every shooter game does.It's how you customize it that is the differentiating factor. LOD did this well. Yes it was still turn based, yes it still had an inventory bag, and of course it had a protagonist with a vendetta against someone! Come on! Appreciate the classics! But, instead of just attacking with pushing (X) you actually have to WORK at how effective your attack is and even plan for a quick tapping of the (O) for a counter attack. Not only that but you have to consider your own weapons abilities, AND what stats your addition gives you. How is that not awesome? How is it not awesome that you have little side quests to get cool items? How is it NOT great to be able to customize your party so that you have the greatest elemental damage possible? And how is it not entertaining to have an INCREDIBLE storyline that progresses at a pace that is intriguing. The character personalities (which of course this idiot left out) is SUPERB, the development is even better. This is one of the first and greatest RPG's of all time. And just because this dolt is a FF fan (obviously) does not mean you can't find pleasure in other RPG's that are just as entertaining. Gamespot, you disgust me with your bias critics viewpoint. There should be a new review written that highlights the good as well as the bad. That is the point of an informative review.

HaNds0f3nvy
HaNds0f3nvy

i think the game is amazing and there are very few out their like it's kind. gamespot just straight out underestimated it

Marythecatgirl
Marythecatgirl

Overall this game among me and my friends found it alot better than at the time FF 1-. . . who cares they are all the exact same.

 

Legend of dragoon offered a good story, A new combat system and some entertaining characters.

 

I for one would love to see it remade with new age graphic's and voice overs.

georgejones1525
georgejones1525

Mispelling everything, and he got the story COMPLETELY wrong..Dart doesnt "Search for the dragoon spirits, and people to use them" He searches for various other things, and meet's the people, who then find their own dragoon spirits..This review is a total joke... Did he even play the game?!

Arcius_Azrael
Arcius_Azrael

seriously? this is one of the best games I've ever played

Cocotroid
Cocotroid

It might as well have been McShea reviewing it. The two greatest games of all time (Skyward Sword, and this) receiving something lower than the 10 they deserve. -_-

404FredNotFound
404FredNotFound

Oddly enough, just today i had a nostalgic moment that made me remember this game, this was the game that made me an rpg player only after this game i started playing other, ff7 was legendary, but this game had something else, something special that marked me, its just sad they never made another.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

This is hands down the worst review on this whole site. Agreed F1Lengend

mezzerich
mezzerich

@SirenAries  you played the game 2012. Your experience and your comments could have been epic if it was 13 years ago.

Spyron-Owley
Spyron-Owley

@FreeRPGer I made an account just to like your comment partner gamer(boy or girl).The game is AWESOME!Its a fairytail as I wrote on my review!It is indeed diferent from other RPGs and thats what makes it so awesome!! I don't know what that Peter is trying to say about personality or nothing special but I have to say that I haven't been attached more in game like that since Kingdom Hearts and Crisis Core!!The game has its dramas,fun,love,foolishness,plots,unexpecteds and epicness!!It gives really the feel that they are everyday people just like us and not just the super badass heros  who came to save the world :P If you look into the game a little,yes,you love it!For both of its skill challenge and time needed.I whould propably buy a new console for the prequel-sequel!!!They seriusly got to make one! Sorry if I bored you with the text :P

FreeRPGer
FreeRPGer

@Spyron-Owley @FreeRPGer 

You words didn't bore me, not at all. Well said. (Anyhow, I'm a dude, by the by). 

But yes, I agree with you completely. The sequel was known as "canceled," but I think Sony put the original LoD on PSN to see how many people download it. If many people download it, they might continue the sequel. We can only hope.

FreeRPGer
FreeRPGer

@RIP_Lavits 

I agree 100%. LoD is a unique and terrific experience, and I also agree they should ban this reviewer. I think personal biased opinions should not taint  reviews.

RIP_Lavits
RIP_Lavits

@FreeRPGer @Spyron-Owley They need to ban this reviewer from the site. I also just made an account to comment on your comment on his comment. I have put over 400 hours into this game and it is STILL my favorite game. I am playing through it again as i type this. Unfortunately i doubt they will make a prequel/sequel, but we can always hope.


The Legend of Dragoon More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation
    While it's a good first try, Sony's inexperience with the genre shows through, resulting in a highly generic RPG with some out-of-this-world FMV.
    8.9
    Average User RatingOut of 4901 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    SCEI
    Published by:
    SCEA, SCEI, SCEE
    Genres:
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Animated Blood, Violence