As you can see that this is not your normal RPG type game, not many heroines seem to have a Lotus flower pinned into their eye socket with a blade for one thing! This is the third offering in the franchise (called Dragon Dragoon in Japan) and centers around 6 sisters, however this being a Japanese RPG, chances are that this lot are to say the least, dysfunctional. That doesn't even come anywhere to be being close....

Each sister has their own distinctive personality, one being shall we say flirtatious, another lazy etc, the one in the picture above however, feels that she has been put upon rather a lot, and resents her sisters. She has one advantage over them though, she can commune and control Dragons. Recenlty having lost one, she has gained a juvenile Dragon called Gordon (No I do not joke!) who is somewhat flighty but grows and matures as the game progresses. Anyway the lasy with a flower in her eye, rightly or wrongly blames her sisters for her woes and is to say the least upset with them. You'd think they would sit down and talk it through wouldn't you? But if they did, there wouldn't be a game would there? Our <ahem> Heroine, therefore decides that payback should be a bitch, and setting off with the flighty Dragon, sets about taking revenge. This is simplyfying the plot the best I can, it's actually a tad more twisted and convoluted than that, but we only have so much space to do these breakdowns so you are just going to have to discover the rest of the plot for yourself.

So what follows is a tale of jealousy, revenge and bloodshed...a LOT of bloodshed. This is no lightweight, airy fairy fairy tale heck no. It's visceral with a twisted sense of humour and actually contains less than subtle sexual innuendos that although no prude, had me raising my eyebrows! This is NOT for the young kids, and it may not be for your fan of the Final Fantasy series who also published this title.

So is it any good then?

That's a good question, and the answer is....to some extent yes but...

I'll be a honest, this game is a bit of a mess. It bares little resemblence to the first two in the series, which featured vast armies and the chance to babrbeque the ranks and file from the back of your Dragon, or have the choice of going at them on foot. This does have that but not too the same degree. Instead of facing entire armies (at least at the start) the Dragon isn't needed to attack the enemies as the numbers you face are so small that some strung together combos with the aid of a big blade should be enough. There are treasure chests to be unlocked, boss fights and items that can be bought and sold and upgraded. So pretty standard fare then? Yes and no....

Actually it's a bit of a mess....

No really it is. There are the usual elements you'd expect but you would expect a much better job being done by Square Enix than this. Sure it looks pretty enough, the FMV's are as nicely animated as normal and worthy of being a straight to DVD/Blu Ray animated film but the game play is where this one falls flat. It's a mix of Sukoiden style hack 'n' slash but lacks the strategic elements that were in the Drakengard games first two entrants. The levelling up system has been kept the same and that's not a bad thing, but besides having a Dragon with you that will grow and evolve as you play, that's about it.

You don't get the feeling of bonding with your pixellated pal that you got with the first two games. The relationship seems forced in some way and doesn't engage you the way it should. For me this became a standard series of battle, shopping, levelling up and the occasional mid level and end level boss fight and..well that was just it. Where is the chemistry between the 'heroine' and her mount? It's simply just not there, as far as I am concerned. If you disagree that's fine, but that's how I genuinely felt.

There are SOME good points....

Controls are fairly intuitive and that's a good thing as there isn't much in the way of a tutorial. I assume Square thought that anyone who bough the first two, would pick up this one and just be able to get on with it, so that is a plus. Nothing has been changed that much, and evem someone who has not played the first two should soon be able to get to grips with it. It looks pretty too, showing that the PS3 can still produce the goods and is not done and dusted with just yet.

The music score is worthy of note, dramatic, moody and even a tad whimsical at times, it suits the settimng of the game very well. Again it's not a good a soundtrack as other Square Enix games (FF10 for instance, is still one of my all time favourites) but it does the job well enough.

Frame rate is smooth, no lag, no pop up and the physics are more than decent. Smoke and flame effects are well rendered, and textures are well done.  Game play is fast paced when the battles start and our heroine's clothes become blood stained as the battles become more vigorous and visceral.

Wrapping up...


But pretty FMV's, good music and pretty backgrounds etc are not enough to make a good game. Square can normally be trusted to give us a decent and engaging title that will keep us engrossed perhaps until the late night hours or the wee small hours of the morning, but this one...I feel that this is one (Like Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark) for the die hard DrakenGard fans only. Newcomers will wonder what the heck is going on but so might some of the fans of the original series. I understand that sometimes change is needed, and it's for the best, but this is one case where perhaps, some more thought should have gone into it. I certainly feel that the more than suggestive tone of the game, in the form of a lurid poem, is not really that necessary. For me this is and was a missed opportunity to engage new fans, There is no news or hints of a Drakengard 4 coming and this one has been around for some time and yes, hands up, I should have reviewed this some time ago and to some extent I am in 'catch up' mode, but if DG 4 is coming, then Square need to rethink about the direction they are going to take with it.....