June 20, 2002
Drakan: The Ancient's Gates - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
5/7/2002SonySurreal Software1$99.95

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No. This is not Tomb Raider.
When Drakan: Order of the Flame was released on the PC a couple of years ago now, it received much applause and admiration from gamers worldwide. Two years later and Sony are completing the sequel (although it hasn't been called Drakan II in European press kits - but has been from Sony America) for the Playstation 2. With a name now locked in as Drakan: The Ancient's Gates it may not carry a number, but this is a definite sequel. Drakan is an action based RPG set in a wonderful fantasy land filled with friends and foes. Drakan is being developed by Surreal Software and will make the most of the Playstation 2's vast power and Dual Shock 2 controller interface.

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Castles are clean, if not detailed.
Drakan: The Ancient's Gates takes place in a world where civilization has crumbled. The story involves the struggle of a young woman, Rynn, and her dragon companion, Arokh, as they set out on a quest to defend the last remnants of civilization by freeing a sacred Spirit Dragon, traditional defender of the ancient empire. Rynn is a tough, beautiful, acrobatic and resourceful female adventurer, skilled with a sword, axe, hammer or bow and arrow, as well as spell-casting. The fearsome Arokh serves as loyal companion and an awesome comrade with his fighting skills and awesome fire-breathing powers. The journey ses them travel to far-off lands and fight the powerful and evil Desert Lords, a race of wizards who seek to enslave the whole of humanity.

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Attacking a foe.
Set across 8 vast worlds Drakan: The Ancient's Gates takes place in free-roaming 3D environments. During the game you can utilize over 12 different weapons, which are discovered as you progress through the game, and cast a variety of devastating spells as you battle to save humanity. One neat addition to the game is the ability to select how Rynn's strengths increase during the game. After battles you can add skill points to one of three specialist skills: fighter, archer or mage. Adding to the fighter skills builds up your ability with standard weapons such as swords, axes and hammers. The archer will give you more accuracy with the bow and arrow as well as stealth techniques while the mage will increase your spell casing abilities.

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Rynn not too bad looking.
The in-game graphics in Drakan are quite functional, although from what I've heard early builds of the game suffered some frame rate problems - not an uncommon occurance in game developments however. Given the extra development time this should be resolved. The cities and dungeons are quite detailed with quite a vatiety in the enemies and some nice texture mapping in areas. Time will tell how well the animations hold up, but Surreal did a pretty good job with the original title.

It's a sad fact of life that Drakan: The Ancient's Gates will likley sell less copies then it deserves to. The game can hardly compete with the exquisite graphics or detailed storylines of Final Fantasy X, but it's not trying to. This is a blending of traditional RPG elements with an action/adventure game. With a release originally scheduled for late 2001, the game has recently slipped to July 2002.