Drakengard TGS Update

We speak to key development team members about their upcoming medieval air and ground combat game.

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We were fortunate enough to attend a question-and-answer session today at Square Enix's Tokyo office with the project leads on Drakengard, the company's forthcoming hybrid air and ground combat game. We spoke with Takamasa Shiba of Square Enix, Takuya Iwasaki of developer Cavia, and Kazuyuki Sasahara, director of CG movies about topics like Drakengard's rather serious storyline, the reception of the game in Japan, and the complexity of developing a game with multiple, disparate gameplay types. The game was recently released in Japan and went on to become the highest-selling game in its first week. Localization efforts are now in full swing for the American version of the game--the voice actors are currently being cast, in fact--and it should be available stateside in the spring.

Known in Japan as Drag-on Dragoon, Drakengard focuses on Kyme, a young and embittered warrior caught up in a conflict between two rival factions. Kyme has forged a pact with a red dragon, which means that throughout the game you'll be fighting in the air while mounted on this dragon, and you'll also sometimes hit the ground to fight hand-to-hand with enemy forces. The game is generally pretty action-oriented, but it contains some RPG elements; you'll be able to advance the abilities of both Kyme and the dragon as you progress through the game. Furthermore, there are a whopping 64 weapons available in the game for Kyme to use. We were told that it's possible to finish the game using only around 10, but players who enjoy collecting extras will certainly have a lot to keep them busy.

When asked about the difficulties inherent in creating a game that features two distinctly different gameplay modes, the Drakengard developers said that they tried to flesh out each mode as fully as possible while allowing players to tailor their gameplay experience to their own tastes. Though the game is ultimately story-driven, we were told that some players of the Japanese version have focused more on the ground combat portions, while others have spent more time in the air atop the dragon. Members of the Cavia development team have previously worked on the Ace Combat series, so they were undoubtedly able to apply their experience with air combat games to the flying (or "dogfight" mode) in Drakengard.

Drakengard sounds like it will be a pretty dramatic and cinematic game. The plot and wartime setting are quite violent and rather dark, and you'll see everything from slain parents to bitter conflicts between rivals. Shiba also stressed that you'll bloodily slaughtering "thousands and thousands" of enemies throughout the game. In fact, with his troubled past and dubious intent, Kyme is being postured as something of a tragic hero. The game is broken into chapters, and we were told this gives the plot a novel-like feel. Drakengard also features over half an hour of lavishly produced CG cutscenes and a soundtrack recorded by a full orchestra, which ought to further the game's dramatic thrust.

From the looks of things, Drakengard will be a pretty well-rounded game that will offer a lot to fans of both action RPGs and aerial combat games. Look for more coverage in the coming months.

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jakeboudville

sounds cool