RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Dec 27th 2015 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under reviews, xbox

I am on record as proclaiming that Sin & Punishment: Star Successor on the Nintendo Wii to be an "objectively perfect" video game. The excitement and wonder of that game, as well as the motion and scale of the scenery, left me floored after playing it. I thought it would be a long time, if ever, before I found a game that combined the thrilling gameplay, amazing atmosphere, and grand scale of S&P in the same perfect mixture. I haven't had to search long, as I have just finished my first playthrough of Panzer Dragoon Orta for the original XBox.

I first played the original Panzer Dragoon (which is unlockable after completing Orta, just so you know) on the Sega Saturn a few years ago. I enjoyed it, but I found it to be very difficult and getting through the game, even with cheat codes, was a real grind for me. I played Panzer Dragoon because I heard it was similar to Star Fox 64, which is one of my all-time favorites. It certainly scratched that 3-D rail-shooter itch with great familiar mechanics like lock-on targeting, as well as new ones like the ability to look 360 degrees around your character. However, I didn't think it was anywhere near Star Fox 64 from a pure playability standpoint.

I've had Panzer Dragoon Orta in my collection for a long time and have heard nothing but good things about it. After playing it, I can see why it has such a cult following and an aggregate rating of around 90 out of 100 on many internet sites.

Orta will play familiarly to anyone who has played the first game, or Star Fox 64. You move your dragon with the left stick and your reticle with the right stick. You can lock on to multiple enemies or manually rapid fire. To spice up the old formula, the developers have added multiple weapon types, which adds an incredible dynamic to the minute to minute gameplay. In certain instances, you may wish to be more mobile so you'll go with your lighter "glide"  form, but then your shots are weaker. During a boss battle, on the other hand, you may want to go with the "heavy" form, although it makes you slower.

**Gameplay sample courtesy of Video Game Heaven**

The great gameplay here would not be nearly as impressive if it weren't for the universe building and immersion. The presentation in the game is impeccable. The graphics are way ahead of their time. The character models are incredibly smooth and life-like in cutscenes, and the environments are so incredibly detailed and creative, that at times I was distracted from the task at hand.

The entire Panzer Dragoon franchise has a great mystique about it, and this game revels in it. I love sci-fi and fantasy that doesn't spend too much time on lore and exposition, but rather drops the audience into the world and allows connections and assumptions to form naturally. I haven't played Panzer Dragoon Saga, so I filled in the gaps with my own imagination or simply let them be mysterious.

The game culminates in an amazing final boss battle that will test all of your skills and the strategic use of your dragon's forms and powers. It took me many tries to defeat this massive, god-like shape-shifter enemy, but I never felt ripped off. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment finishing this game, even on the easy difficulty.

It is worth little that I only played through the game once so far, but branching paths promise varying experiences on future playthroughs, which I am certainly looking forward to.

Panzer Dragoon Orta may not end up as one of my favorite games of all time, but much like Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, I am at a loss to find any flaws in it. If you have an original XBOX (or an XBOX 360, it is compatible in all regions), this game is a must own.

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Second favorite entry of one of my favorite game series.  Saga really is fantastic, but Orta is a game that still looks and plays fantastic today.  Thanks for the write-up!
This is an awesome game and was frequently used by moi to show the graphical power of the Xbox as compared to the other consoles.  My problem is that I really stink at this game, and cannot make it past the first few levels without losing all my lives.  Still an awesome game, in my opinion, and worth picking up.  Thanks, Ghost.
I very much appreciate the feedback gentlemen.

I do think it is amazing how this game holds up graphically. 6th generation games would tend to have to be cel-shaded to be held in that regard.

@bombatomba: I too was terrible at this game, try it on easy and maybe you'll have a better time with it.
I've had Orta in my collection for a long time, but I haven't had a chance to play it yet. Thanks a lot for the recommendation, since I think it is a game right down my alley.
Nice write-up, GrayGhost81!  I'm a BIG fan of the original game, as it was one of the first Saturn titles I purchased, and was absolutely amazed at the game's design, scope, and feel.  And OH THE SOUNDTRACK!  "Flight", the original game's stage 1 music is truly gorgeous, and everyone interested in orchestral game music should absolutely hear that song.  So then, Orta became one of my first purchases when I finally got an original Xbox, and I was not disappointed.  What a fantastic game, and similarly to the original, when I booted up the Xbox and played it for the first time, I was thrilled with the presentation and smooth gameplay.  It's a winner for sure!

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