12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2005
Drakan is one of my favourite PS2 games, but it was a commercial flop on its release a few years back. It concerns a woman named Rynn and her friend and soul-bonded dragon, Arokh. A race of powerful, other-worldly sorcerers called the Desert Lords are trying to take over the land, and it’s down to Rynn and Arokh to stop them. It is an action-adventure not unlike Zelda, with a few role play elements thrown in for good measure.
The fighting is well implemented and comfortable. You can lock onto an enemy with the R2 button, and while doing so you can strafe, roll and move around the opponent. This also roughly tells you the enemy’s health from the colour of the lock-on cursor. Rynn can perform a decent range of attacks, which include combos done with the D-Pad and a range of magical spells - both aggressive and defensive. This includes the standard fireball or electrical attacks, aswell as some very useful spells like temporary invisibility or slowing down time. Rynn can also parry certain enemies' attacks, and she can strafe and roll around foes when locked on. Arokh has the standard fire attacks you would expect a dragon to; but you can also advance his abilities to gain attacks such as an electrical blast and an attack which drains your enemies’ life and gives it to you. He attacks enemies in the same manner as Rynn, but obviously utilising vertical movement as well as horizontal. The 'feel' of both characters is spot on, and the controls are excellent on both fronts. The range of weapons Rynn can wield is extensive. There are literally dozens of melee weapons which include axes, short swords, long swords, great axes and maces. You can also get a selection of bows, which can come in very useful for wearing enemies down from a distance. But it makes sure you are never too well-equipped, as you can only carry a limited number of items in your inventory. In a system much like Resident Evil you have a certain number of slots and you must manage your weapons, armour and items carefully. This is coupled with the fact that over time weapons begin to weaken and eventually break. You can go to the blacksmith to get them fixed, but they can never retain their original strength. Also, certain weapons can only be found once in the game (and a lot of them have unique magical properties), so you’re required to really think about the best equipment for a certain situation or task. You gain experience from every enemy you kill. After a while you will level up, and you can select which field you would like to progress in – archery, sorcery or melee weaponry. Until you level up sufficiently in a certain field you can’t get access to the better goods, e.g. a better bow, better spells or a bigger sword. But the twist here is that you cannot fully level up in every area, as there is a limit on the experience points you can receive. This means that you will have to prioritise which areas you excel in, perhaps leaving one out, or alternatively you could opt to be average across the board. Features like this help give the game a surprising amount of depth, and the way you approach the game on alternate plays through can differ somewhat.
The world you explore is both vast and diverse. The landscape ranges from an arid desert-like wasteland, through green valleys and hilltops, to a snowy mountain range and to a group of floating islands in the sky. There’s a lot to the environments and a lot to explore, so they almost always feel challenging and interesting, as oppose to overly-large and empty. You will, on your travels, meet many NPCs. They all have something to say and many of them will ask you to undertake quests or favours for them; such as the mad scientist who asks you to collect dragon eggs, or the townsfolk who ask you to rid their town of an evil sorcerer called ‘The Inquisitor’. Also, if you explore each area thoroughly you will encounter hidden goodies, such as a giant chicken who has a large horde of gold, or a remote monastery that have a few problems in the crypt. The land in Drakan is expansive, and if you explore a little you will find there is plenty to keep yourself occupied outside of the main quest.
Graphically, this game is quite average (particularly by today’s standards). It is probably about on par with the GTA games, but it’s fairly impressive in scale and some of the views are very attractive. I can’t say I noticed any slowdown or any other technical issues which mar the game. The voices are pretty well done; Rynn is quite chatty and comments on lots of stuff, often dropping in a quirky, sometimes amusing line. The script is good overall, although it sometimes takes itself a mite too seriously, and can look a bit beardy for it. The soundtrack is good in my opinion; the main theme is pretty memorable, and a lot of music during the game is fairly subliminal background music – its purpose is to subtly set the scene and provide atmosphere, more than anything. The sound effects are decent enough, with appropriate clangs and thuds where necessary. Overall, I have no complaints to level at the soundtrack.
The enemies you face in the game are fairly diverse; there are massive spiders, lizard-men, huge & fearsome troll-like monsters, enemy dragons, skeletal warriors and the Desert Lords, amongst others. The design and range of them is broad, and in a few instances the game demonstrates it can fit a fair few characters on screen at once. There are also a plentiful number of bosses throughout the game, from powerful demi-humans you battle as Rynn, to ancient and impressive beasts you face as Arokh. The AI on the characters, both friend and foe, is very basic. Usually if an enemy has a ranged weapon, it will simply stay back and fire at you, and if it has a melee weapon it will approach you as fast as possible to try to bludgeon or chop you. There’s not a lot more to it than that, but I can’t say I mind; it’s hardly the sort of game where you need good AI, and doesn’t really affect the experience anyway.
One minor annoyance I had with the game was the fact that when you go into your inventory screen the game does not pause, but instead carries on in real-time. They have got around this by adding a quick-select menu assigned to holding down the R1 button; here you can store items you want quick access to such as a choice of sword or bow, or healing/magic items. It works well enough and I suppose in a way adds another drop to the planning you need to undertake. It just means that you can’t really dither when you’re in the menu screen, unless you’re in a safe location. Another gripe is that it takes so much or the memory card to save – about 1.5mb!! Don’t know why it takes so much, but it can be obstructive if you have to re-shuffle your saves. Lastly, it needs to be said that the loading takes far too long. Admittedly, you only have to wait when you go between one of the vast landmasses, but you do have to wait about a minute to get going again. This does spoil the effect somewhat.
Overall I can thoroughly recommend Drakan: The Ancient’s Gates to anyone who’s a fan of a good fantasy adventure, with action, exploration and role-playing elements all thrown into the mix. You can pick it up quite cheap these days and it’s probably over 20 hours on first play through, so for £10 or £15 it’s an absolute bargain. Highly recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2003
I was a little wary of buying this game, I must admit - flying on a dragon sounds, well, a little twee, BUT how wrong I was! The first thing that struck me about this game was the attention to detail in the scenery - it's really beautiful, and diverse enough in the different worlds to capture attention for quite a while,(the only gripe I possibly have about this is that perhaps there could have been a little more detail UNDER the water, but there again it was not crucial to the story!) The heroine, Rynn, is great - not too butch and not saccharine sweet! Some fave points about this were:
Choosing from a wide range of awe-inspiring weapons
Casting handy spells
Fighting the terryfying and hideous "Flesh Mage
Flying on a dragon (of course)
All in all, a hugely entertaining and enjoyable game!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2006
I love this game for many reasons. An excellent description of the game is given be the previous reviewer, so I will just talk about the things I really like about it.
First, there is the freedom. In this game, you have a lot of choice about where to go and in what order to do things, and, a lot of freedom to just wander around and admire the scenery, and it IS worth admiring --- some of it is quite breathtakingly beautiful, and so intricate and full of secrets which are not pertinent to the main story, but very much enhance game play, and encourage one to wander around the landscapes and explore.
Second, I love the characterisation. All the characters, especially the enemy characters, are quite different, and often are very amusing --- take the WARTOCKS, for instance. They appear in most sections of the game, often along side the GRULL, which are similar but three times the size. They are humaniod, in that they have two arms and legs and can walk and talk, but hairy, more like bears, and with large snouts and lots of teeth. The Wartocks are quick and lithe, and they dash towards Rynn as soon as they spot her. Now, here is where the fun comes in: as with many games, Rynn gains money and experience points for killing the enemy, but I find it fun to get through this game killing as few as possible. If you hit the Wartocks, or Grull, a few times, so that the next hit is going to kill them, they cringe and run away and are no longer a danger ... unless you corner them, and then, like cornered rats, they find their courage again and lash out. Then another way to do it is by taking advantage of the nastiness of these creatures, especially the Wartocks: if you run Rynn about, so that a number of Wartocks are after her and bunched together, then they will start swiping at Rynn when she is close enough, and accidentally they will hit each other! Then they turn on each other, and you can let Rynn stand back and just watch as they fight among themselves! If you get Rynn to jump up onto a box, and the Wartocks and Grull gather round below, they will fight among themselves until there is only one left standing! Then Rynn has an easy job!
And then, one can take advantage of the STUPIDITY of these creatures! Some of their kind are mages, and use magic, usually fire, launching fireballs from a distance. Now, the thing is, they are really stupid, and if you get one or more of the ordinary Wartocks or Grull to chase Rynn, and you manouvre so that the enemy gets between Rynn and the mage, the mage will keep firing, even though he is hitting his own side! So, you can have fun getting their own mages to do the killing for you!
So, those are just a few of the variations, and funny things you can do with this game, so that you can play it over and over, always finding new things to do, finding new and cunning ways to defeat the enemy, or getting them to defeat themselves!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2004
I was so suprised by this game, the dragon flying effects were just brilliant, and the graphics faultless, the gameplay was fun with plenty of challenges and weapons and of course magic. I don't know why I waited so very long to buy this game as for me it's one of the best games i have played in a while, not too much chit chat, and so many adventures BUT it could have been longer for me as I was so engrossed in it I even dreamed about dragon flying one night - brilliant!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2003
Drakan was a superb PC game involving Rynn and her faithful dragon sidekick Arokh, and together they did battle on ground as well as in the skies. The PC game was involving, the locations varied, the game had suspense, and the fighting was more intelligent. The PS2 version, however, has failed to deliver the same degree of gameplay that made its predecessor a great success.
The first problem is the combat, you simply run in a circle and bash a button, the orcs, spiders and pitiful excuse for scavengers (that were really tough to kill on the PC) come at you only to be slaughtered quite simply with a few swipes of your weapon. Perhaps that's because the creature AI is so poor, for example, the huge orc creatures that shake the ground when they walk sound scary, well, they don't look it and they get stuck behind so much graphics that all you have to do is arm your bow and shoot at its head, it falls, you win without even downing a health potion. PS2 boasts games with great enemy AI but in this the AI is just bog standard.
The aerial battles are not much better as Arokh disposes of black dragons and arrow cannons from below effortlessly, in the PC version you actually had to fly around a lot and even retreat, in this just fly in a circle and shoot, it couldn't be less exciting.
I may be quick to criticise Drakan, but at least there is the experience system, defeat so many bad guys and you get a point to attach to your arrow, melee or magic skills, which at least keeps you approaching fights. You can also find money to pay for extra equipment, even though your napsack is really small and in later missions the amount of items you can't carry does irritate, especially since the weapons take ages to break, another flaw that was better in the PC version.
On a good note, the environments in the air are beautiful to look at, and Arokh flies smoothly between mountains, but the environments on the ground begin to become far too similar and predictable. Some of the boss battles are good and the environments are huge to navigate in. Drakan 2 could have been a great game if only they had made it as tense and challenging as the PC version, and in this case if you've already played Drakan for the PC there's not much point visiting this one and being dissapointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2012
i won't bother going into detail about the story as thats been done by others here...... however, i want to talk about the game engine, and general feel of it.
its got a nice voice casting which helps with interaction with the protagonist and others characters which i remember loving about this game.
but it was the attention to detail that i adored when it came out, it was one of the first game on the ps2 platform to allow free roaming on some a scale and scenic areas..... they're lots of tolkin-esque history concerning the many tribes/peoples and events of the lands that you cover, and each land has side quests, collectables, hidden paths and treasure and even additional boss fights that are only encountered by chance.
the combat is basic but there is an interesting spell casting process which requires remembering a set of movements on the controller (alternatively you can select the spell from the inventory menu.) but i always liked trying to remember the up, left, right, down, whilst running away from a giant troll!
oh, one thing in the game that would annoy many (i found it an extra challenge) but the menu does NOT pause the game, which is strange the first time you happily re arranging armour and selecting the best one to wear and all of a sudden you notice a rather hairy creature has just spotted and and is running towards you with murder in his eye and a club in hand!! and as im in the menu (normally a safe haven) i watch in bemusement as im clubbed to death while half naked between armours! you can of course drinks potions while in the menu too though so its not all death, just mainly!
but yes, it is fun..... apart from the ending which i found to be a big let down, but that was personnel experience and the rest of the story was indeed worth it as its a huge game with intrigue, plot twists and and onfoot to flying sections really complement each other, esp when you can force a goblin to follow outside its cave to be roasted by your dragon friend waiting outside!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2009
i have only resently purchased this game but think it is imense, i have never heard of the game before i purchased it for £2.99 from gamestation, all though i have played summoner 2(reviewed earlier)which is very similar. i would recommend this over summoner to people who like mythology as your side kick is a dragon. the weopon and leveling up system are those known to RPG's and works by you fighting your way through baddies and earning experiance,while at the same time the more u use a weopon the more it degrades. then you must pay to repair it. your skill levels (which go up once u have a skill point which is required through battle) are linked to what weopons (eg bows and swords you can use) and what spells you can cunjure up. then these new purchases are used in battle to over come enimies. the explorartion is used well as it allows you to wander off to most places of no importance. this game requires some brain power and is not reccommeded to be played with out due care and attention. i would reccommed this to anyone who's(xbox is broke lol) got a taste for long adventures and mythological creatures, this truelly is an a mazing game i hope this review has helped........Tom
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2002
Drakan: The Ancient Gates is the continuing story of Rynn, the young rider of Araohk, as she searches for her kidnapped brother. The story sounds slack, but it works really well and I don't want to give to much away as it has a few good twists. The game itself is stunning in some places, its Visuals vastly overshadowing its predessesor and its control system given a wonderful simplicty. The original game on the PC had several control glitches which made it hard to manouver sometimes. Gone are these probelems as the speedy PS2 handles the game perfectly.
Essentially, the game is a 3D platformer, but with rather than tackle the levels in a linear ground based form you can alternate to riding Araohk, Rynn's mighty ally, a powerful Dragon from an ancient (and long destroyed) order of Dragons.
Mostly, its a sword-fighting game against well realised bad guys and mosters with bows and axes thrown in for good measure. When flying, the combat system takes on a much faster ariel role. With the ability to bombard the happless foes with fireballs and lava from above while dueling with other flying beasts and massive catapualts. The flying system is quite like Zone of the Enders (another great if a little short game) with the options for targeting and chasing. This also comes into affect on the ground when Rynn, who when getting into trouble for the beasts below can call up an Air-strike. All in all, its not short, its medium length and is over all too soon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2014
One of my childhood games from 2002! This game is a true masterpiece! It's impossible not to love it. You play as the brave female warrior Rynn and her mighty dragon Arokh, devasting their enemies by foot or by flying. Another good thing about Drakan: The Ancient's Gates is that it's quite challenging and takes a whole lot of time to complete every main or side quests. In other words, THE GAME IS PRETTY LONG! But that's just perfect for players seeking for a fun and challenging game! The controls are just perfect!
One of the best PS2 games I've ever played!
Do not hesitate to buy this game at any cost, I strongly recommend this to every gamer!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2002
Your role in this game is of a female heroin named Rynn. Your task is to reunite the dragon/human empire. So the story lines weak, so when did the makers come up with a good one? What counts is gameplay and this game really hits the nail on the head. Its not one of those games where you repeatedly come up against one type of monster that instead of getting better just swamps your character until he cant go on. Nor is it a game where all you have to do is solve stupidly complicated puzzles. Its got a perfect balance between slaughter, puzzles and riiculously hard bits. Also this is not an Onnimishua type game that you can complete in a couple of nights, (perfect for rental). But its more of a summer holiday game in which you dont race through but you have to persist in your efforts to complete the game. Overall i would say this is the must buy RPG for all you gamers out there. Its a key to unlocking hours of fun in times of boredom.