Dragon Rage Preview
Dragon Rage is an aerial-based adventure game featuring a story of retribution that gives you direct control of a powerful dragon.
Dragon Rage was first conceived as a game under the banner of the popular series Might and Magic. While it's no longer associated with this popular and expansive fantasy game series, the new name is perhaps truer to the game's concept. All the power and fury of a true dragon will be at your disposal, and revenge will soon be yours--along with the satisfaction of razing the landscape and annihilating your foes.
The world in which the game takes place is one of standard fantasy, but with a few unique elements. The warlike orcs have become the most advanced and technologically capable civilization. They have found a method to extract zeenium, the substance that grants dragons their supernatural power, from the eggs of unborn dragons. Besides yielding a potent power source that the orcs can harness, the process also serves to rob dragons of their potential, allowing orcs to easily control and enslave the great winged creatures and use them as beasts of burden. One dragon, known as Cael, is injected with zeenium in a twist of fate and finds himself with the power to exact vengeance on his oppressors and unloose the shackles that bind his race. This is where you come in. Taking control of this mythical beast, you'll have access to a wide variety of aerial maneuvers and attacks. There is a high degree of aerial freedom, and flight techniques--such as loops and barrel rolls--will help maneuver you into attack position. The attacks themselves are divided into two categories: dragon attacks and rage attacks.
The dragon attack category encompasses a wide variety of physical techniques. Ramming and tail-whipping techniques are direct and rely on your great strength to cause damage to structures and enemy units. More brutal means of combat include the ability to seize an enemy in your claws and send them falling to their death or satiating your appetite by devouring a hapless orc whole. Rage attacks are imbued with magical properties and will vary depending on what type of elemental gem you use. The standard four elements are all present (earth, wind, water, and fire), and each will grant a different breath weapon and arsenal of magic attacks. The fire gem, for example, lets you spew forth fireballs to ignite the landscape and unleash a spell that totally blankets your immediate surroundings in flame. Additionally, there are "dragon powers" that can be toggled on and off, like an increase in speed to aid your evasive techniques or toughened skin for a defensive boost. Each is accompanied by an appropriate graphical flourish. To add a dash of RPG-style character advancement, your dragon will acquire permanent boosts to its elemental powers by finding and liberating sprites that have been imprisoned by the orcs throughout the course of the game.
The game spans 16 missions, and the story will unfold through cinematic scenes interspersed between stages. Each mission has multiple objectives, like destroying zeenium processing plants, recovering eggs that have not yet been drained of their power, or dueling in midair with a great orc leader. A great variety of enemies, including dragon skin zeppelins, standard foot soldiers, and orcish naval units, will all do their best to keep you from completing your mission. The development team is implementing what they call a "fight or flight" AI system, in which groups of enemies will respond to your presence depending on the situation. For instance, a patrolling group of 10 may see the dragon's shadow looming overhead and decide to take a stand. As they start to take casualties, they may panic and begin to flee, making them easy pickings for your claws and jaws. The promised variety in enemy units and their behavior will hopefully keep combat interesting and dynamic.
As you progress through the game, the scenery will change accordingly and form a natural curve of difficulty. Early stages will take place in areas largely untouched by civilization; one could call this "dragon country." Orc settlements are sparse here, and the environments are relatively free of hazards. Later missions, however, will see Cael drawing closer and closer to the center of orc civilization. Strongholds will become more common, and the military will be out with increased numbers and in greater force. Eventually, you'll come upon the center of the orcs' empire, a sprawling urban center protected by walls and heavy fortifications.
The different conditions you'll be faced with during the game are often better suited to different abilities, which means there isn't just one way to solve a particular problem. As an example, certain enemy structures will be capable of producing enemy units, so destroying these buildings will stave off the flow of reinforcements. If you're using the earth gem, you can easily level these buildings with a powerful rage attack in which Cael lets loose a thunderous roar accompanied by a devastating earthquake. In another circumstance, you might combat a large number of enemy units, and using a rage attack with the ice gem to literally freeze them in their tracks might work best to your advantage.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the game is that the developers are including several multiplayer modes, including a cooperative campaign mode that will allow two dragons to take on the orcish hordes together in split-screen format in all 16 of the normal missions. Co-op mode will feature ramped-up difficulty and more enemies, but with the combined might of two dragons, you should be up to the challenge. You can tackle two objectives at once, combining their attacks to completely lay waste to a specific area or employ team tactics. Project Lead Kudo Tsunoda mentioned that one player might build a barrier to fence in an advancing army while the other dives into their crowded ranks to inflict heavy casualties. Too few console games today feature cooperative play, and Dragon Rage's two-player mode looks promising indeed.
Other multiplayer modes focus on head-to-head battles. Dragon duel is a straightforward aerial deathmatch, but the other two modes are a bit more interesting. One is entitled feeding frenzy, which is reminiscent of the old arcade game Trog. In this mode, you compete to see who can devour the most orcs within a time limit. The third multiplayer mode is egg hunt, in which the goal is to search the environment for eggs and return them to your lair. Each of the above modes is expected to have two maps, which adds to the variety.
It's easy to see that the developers are putting their all into the production of the game. The team sat through several dragon movies for inspiration and even went as far as to do research on bird flight. Cael's motion should be quite impressive in the final product, and the topographical variation of the environments is another of the game's strong elements. This is definitely a game to keep an eye on for action fans and air-combat aficionados. The game is due out this fall.
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