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Drakan: The Ancients' Gates

Developer: Surreal Software | Publisher: SCEA
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 01/30/02 | Genre: Action

The masses have cried out for a quality dragon-riding game. "Anything but Ozzy's Dark Skies... anything!" people have pleaded. Since Panzer Dragoon, people have had no where to look for exciting dragon thrills outside of watching The Neverending Story over and over again. Surreal Software has noticed the wants of the people and delivered Drakan: The Ancients' Gates. It has all the dragon combat anyone could ever want, plus some adventuring junk... something about a plot, magic and exploration.

Drakan stars a shapely Lara Croft-wannabe that is not only as attractive, but cocky as well. Apparently this medieval chick, Rynn, has to open ancient mystical gates to awaken the forgotten Order of Flame and thus saving the land from the Desert Lords. Rynn does not have to embark on this quest alone, and has the assistance of her dragon, Arokh. Together, they explore beautifully rendered landscapes and meet many elaborate people along the way.

Rynn has all the basic skills of any adventurer, including strafing, rolls, flips and parrying and even some additional tactics such as lock-on targeting and first-person archery. The weapon system is very well done, with dozens of hand weapons, shields, armament and bows. Each piece of equipment is quite breakable and will fall apart after frequent use. There are also plenty of spells at your disposal. The spell usage is very interesting in that you must perform certain button combos to summon the magic you need. It's annoying at times, but it adds a small bit of strategy.

Despite the fact that you'll be on the ground with Rynn most often, aerial dragon combat is where it's at! Arokh is a fully integrated part of the game, and not merely an afterthought to boost sales. This bad boy is capable of carrying Rynn over long distances rather quickly and breathing various types of magical fire. Although he sounds like a James Earl Jones impersonator (a strike against him), Arokh is a very fun part of the game.

Drakan is a delightful mix of Zelda and Tomb Raider, The combat feels just like battles with Link and the massive scope of exploration is reminiscent of Lara's exploits. It took me at least 2 hours to get through the first area, Shadowmire, even after knowing what was to come on my second time through! Besides the main task at hand, there are many side quests that are worth your time in money, items and experience. The only things I can whine about are the horrendous loading and saving times (this is a next-gen game, right?) I love adventure games, and Drakan makes me glad to own a PS2.

By Craig Lupienski - 08/21/01
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Screenshots for Drakan: The Ancients' Gates

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