July 27, 2002
Drakan: The Ancients' Gates - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
4/7/2002SonySurreal Software1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
1999KBStereoYesNoSmallNo

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There is plenty of dungeon exploring.
When Drakan: Order of the Flame was released on the PC a couple of years ago, it received a very positive press and public response. Two years later and Surreal Software have completed the sequel called Drakan: The Ancients' Gates which is being released on Playstation 2. Drakan is an action based RPG set in a wonderful fantasy land filled with friends and foes. Fortunately, although this is a sequel there is no need for gamers to have played the PC game as it stands up as a separate storyline.

Drakan: The Ancient's Gates takes place in the world of Drakan which is being overrun with an alien race called the Desert Lords. In the ancient, decaying world of Drakan, the immortal Spirit Dragons are held captive. Rynn, a brave female warrior, and Arokh, a fearless dragon, are called to save these spiritual leaders, as well as the last remnants of mankind. Embarking on an enchanted journey through eight vast, foreign environments, Rynn and Arokh utilize magic spells, resourcefulness and more that 50 powerful weapons in their quest to save civilization. Drakan: The Ancients' Gates places you within a world of magical creatures, mysterious lands and courageous conquests ... with the future of humanity at stake!

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Castles are clean, if not detailed.
Drakan: The Ancient's Gates takes place in the world of Drakan which is being overrun with an alien race called the Desert Lords. In the ancient, decaying world of Drakan, the immortal Spirit Dragons are held captive. Rynn, a brave female warrior, and Arokh, a fearless dragon, are called to save these spiritual leaders, as well as the last remnants of mankind. Embarking on an enchanted journey through eight vast, foreign environments, Rynn and Arokh utilize magic spells, resourcefulness and more that 50 powerful weapons in their quest to save civilization. Drakan: The Ancients' Gates places you within a world of magical creatures, mysterious lands and courageous conquests ... with the future of humanity at stake!

Fortunately the storyline of this game The game takes place across 8 vast free-roaming 3D worlds. During the game you can utilize over 12 different weapons, which are discovered as you progress through the game, or purchased with gold in shops. Each of the weapons, which vary from swords, bow and arrow, magic and clubs have different strengths and weaknesses including speed and damage. Impressively the weapons also deteriorate over time, although never quickly enough that you will need to stock up on 10 weapons at once. Fortunately if you find a blacksmith, any weapons can be repaired. As with most RPG type games Rynn's strengths increase over time by adding skill points to three categories, fighting skills, archery or mage. Many weapons can only be used when a certain skill level has been achieved so you must plan your upgrades wisely.

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One of the early monsters.
Drakan also includes an "lock-on" feature for use during battles. By pressing the R2 button you automatically lock onto the nearest enemy so your attacks will be targeted toward them. Pressing it a second time will switch to the next target if you prefer to take them out first. One of the other major areas of this game is the riding the dragon, Arokh. It really is a great additions to the game, as Arokh doesn't appear for a couple of brief minutes, or during a cut scene, but is an integral part of the game to transport Rynn from location to location in the game world and to attack enemies from the air. Controlling Arokh is a complete pleasure at all times as you tell him to hover, dive, speed up etc. The combat works very similar to Rynn's in that you press R2 to lock onto a target for attack. Riding Arokh was one of my major concerns coming into the game, but it's a complete joy and actually one of the highlights.

Problems are few and far between with Drakan taking the best elements of action, RPG and adventure games and blending it all into one big quest. To be picky however I wasn't overly impressed with the inability to move around while in the first person archery mode. It would have been nice to be retreating from enemies while firing off the arrows, but you get stuck in one position. Fortunately the lock-on in 3rd person perspective works pretty well. The biggest problem is with the combat which seems to be very repetitive hitting of the Square button. A little more variety would have been nice. Perhaps the developers could have include a button for vertical and another for horizontal attacks. It's just a little repetitive for my liking, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

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Rynn is one nice looking character.
Despite reports of early build of this game having a lot of slowdown I can safely say that is has almost been totally removed in this final build. The game runs fairly smoothly throughout which is great given the amount of action that takes place and detail in the background. When looking at the detail the texturing of the world, and characters, isn't going to win any awards, but it is still very nice to look at. Unfortunately the animation while generally good, is very limited throughout the game. There certainly isn't the variety of moves you'd see from the characters in Metal Gear Solid. Having said that each of the character includes lip-synching (which can be a little off) but more impressively the characters also have movement of their eyes. But any graphical faults are soon forgotten when you look at the size and scope of the game. There will be times when riding Arokh or just overlooking the land when you will well into the distance. The cut scenes are all generated from the game engine and look wonderful.

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The game can be gruesome.
Sound-wise Draken also manages to deliver. As you would expect the music is both epic, and exciting and changes according to the action on the screen. The sound effects are also suitable with weapons making different noises as they hit different surfaces. However the most impressive aspect is the speech from both the main characters Rynn and Arokh, but also from the non-playable characters littered through the game world. With a predominantly English accent the games speech is not only very well done, but also extremely humorous. I guarantee you will chuckle on more then several occasions. Even talking to the same character several times usually results in different conversations with them.

Overall Drakan: The Ancients' Gates is a very solid game, and certainly a lot more engrossing then I thought it would be. It's certainly lengthy enough, the graphics - despite some frame rate problems - are acceptable, the sound good but most importantly the game is fun and will have you hooked for longer periods then you intend. Those looking for a good action RPG need look no further as this Surreal Software developed game will keep you entertained.

GRAPHICSDrakan is a solid looking game. Massive levels with adequate textures.
85%
SOUNDGood music and effects pale in comparison to the superb speech.
92%
GAMEPLAYNot the greatest storyline, but extremely addictive RPG action.
87%
VALUEAbout 30 hours gameplay that will have you hooked all night long.
91%
OVERALLDrakan: The Ancients' Gates is a great title. It's a shame it hasn't been promoted more as it deserves plenty of attention, and sales. With few faults and a lengthy completion time this should be considered by all action/RPG/adventure fans. Highly recommended.
87%

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