Ask a hundred people the question ‘what was your favorite childhood game’ and the chance is high that Panzer Dragoon is among them. I am a big fan of the on-rail shooter genre and played the original a lot on Playstation 2 and the spiritual successor Crimson Dragon on Xbox One. My passion is high when it comes down to Sega’s Panzer Dragoon, without a doubt a cult-classic in gaming. So my first thought was how weird it was that not Sega was behind this return. Panzer Dragoon: Remake is made by publisher Forever Entertainment and Polish developer MegaPixel. Yeah, I didn’t know them either so I feared what the result would be…
We explored the alien world in Panzer Dragoon: Remake for over four hours on Xbox Series X.
What we liked!
- A better than ever visual experience: Seven levels have been remade with love and care for the original art style. They take what the original tried to do with limited graphical resources and created upon that. It is wonderful to see the old set pieces come to life again with much more attention to detail and horsepower. Many times I thought it was a shame that I couldn’t control the dragon and explore all the environments fully. The in-game photo mode helps a bit with that though, on frequent occasions I used this functionality to look around and see what the developers created. It is a bit of a shame that characters look a bit generic and that the visuals aren’t super crisp but they managed to nail an immensely difficult task, bringing more vibrancy to a game that became so loved for a fantasy atmosphere.
- Like the original, one of the best soundtracks in gaming: An almost eerie and chilling soundtrack, I remembered it fondly and it was wonderful to hear it again with improved sound quality. The soundtrack of all the Panzer Dragoon games is on my Spotify list with reason. It doesn’t put emphasis on oomph sounds or explosions but rather double downs on the atmosphere. Something that works perfectly with the fascinating visuals.
- Unique gameplay concept: I can understand that not all gamers are thrilled with an on-rail shooter, we’ve seen that with Crimson Dragon. Some people adored it like me, while others thought it was crap. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground, you love or hate it. You can control the dragon a little but your main focus is to hit and kill enemies by manually rotating your camera and quickly pressing the fire button or holding it for an auto-guided shot. The feeling for when to use the guided or fast-firing shots is something that you need to grow in. Being defensive with quick-fire is key for surviving the harder difficulty modes, getting in the zone from going all-out offensive or parking the bus is the difference between normal or skilled Panzer Dragoon players.
- Modern controls aren’t an improvement: The default controls for Panzer Dragoon: Remake is luckily the old-school approach as the modern controls feel a bit clumsy. You would think that controlling would be better with two sticks but in a game like this that’s simply not the case. I think the developers realized this in the end and made the old one stick manoeuvring default. Sure it feels a bit more modern using two sticks but sometimes it is good to stay behind in the past and play the game has it was meant to be played.
What we disliked
- Short, too short with nothing to add value: Times have changed and releasing a game that takes a little over an hour is disappointing. It is honestly ridiculous that they decided to add an achievement to play for 100 hours, I mean… why? You expect players to constantly replay the same seven levels over & over again in 2020? Without even leaderboards or any other sort of extra’s, there is little to no reason to replay Panzer Dragoon again after finishing it. Maybe some will finish each difficulty separately but I doubt that will be the case for most players, especially for the harsh price of €25.
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