by Working Designs
Working Designs is quickly becoming Sega's work horse for converting Japanese RPG and strategy games to the Saturn. The Redding, Calif.-based company has already released the war sim Iron Storm and the RPG Shining Wisdom for Sega's system, and now it's working on a title that combines both genres-Dragon Force.
This lengthy, highly complex game puts you in control of one of eight castle-bound warlords, all of whom are vying for control of the land of Legendra. Each warlord has his or her own story, complete with plot twists and other surprises, and these stories are told through anime-style cinemas that play throughout the game.
Once you've picked a warlord, your next task is to organize a cadre of commanders to lead the warlord's forces. Your commanders can also form alliances with each other to increase their armies' destructive power in battle.
Each commander can lead up to 100 soldiers, and it is this diverse selection of troops that sets DF apart from other strategy games. Troop types include knights, cavalrymen, martial arts masters, samurai, magicians, harpies-even zombies. The homelands of your commanders determine which types of soldiers you can control, since wild lands breed wild warriors. Once you've gathered your soldiers, you march them out into. Legendra to conquer the castles of the other warlords or protect towns from marauding armies.
Like most strategy games, DF is a menu-driven simulation. You can use either the joystick or Sega's mouse to choose the menu options that guide your troops. Travel takes place in an overhead perspective on a large, scrolling map. similar to the one in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. On this map, you can walk the roads of your expanding realm and see what your enemies are up to.
Combat begins once your army storms another warlord's castle or enters a town that's under attack. Your forces are also called to battle whenever enemies besiege one of your castles. Skirmishes are fought in realtime, and you can view the carnage from several angles by changing the position of the game's virtual camera.
More than 200 different characters can be on the screen during combat. You can have your soldiers yell a throaty battle roar and rush across the battlefield at your opponents. When the screen fills with charging, screaming men on foot and horseback, the game almost looks like a scene out of Braveheart. If your general leads archers or sorcerers, your soldiers can hurl spells at enemies from afar.
Once you've beaten down the bulk of your enemy's army, you can finish off the opposing general in a one-on-one duel to the death. Or, if the battle's not going in your favor, you can run away.
But the spoils of war are great if you conquer a castle. Your generals get experience points for every battle they win, and you can give them rewards for their valor later on. You can also capture the opposing generals and troops and make them join your cause, thus increasing the size of your own army. Captured castles yield special items, too. if you search hard enough. These items can be used in battle and often offer spectacular and powerful attacks against the enemy.
To win the game, you have to take over the entire land of Legendra and defeat the other warlords. Working Designs claims this feat will take between AO and 60 hours. Judging by the complexity of this highly addictive game, 60 hours of battle-packed gameplay sounds like the more likely estimate.
MANUFACTURER - Working Designs
DIFFICULTY - MODERATE
THEME - Strategy
NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Dragon Force is more of a strategy game than a traditional console role-playing title, but it has enough RPG elements to keep fans of the genre happy. The game puts players in control of six warlords (with two others available later in the game), all of them seeking to conquer the land of Legendary. Each warlord organizes a select group of commanders, and these generals lead an army of up to 100 soldiers into battle.
The soldiers aren't your run-of-the-mill no-neck knights. Troop types include ninjas, dragons, magicians and zombies, as well as the traditional knights, archers and Calvary men. Different types of soldiers become available as players progress through the game, take over castles and capture the armies of enemies.
Combat begins when your army invades another warlord's castle, and the battle scenes that follow are highly cinematic. The two armies line up on opposing sides of the battlefield, then charge into each other with weapons, claws and teeth at the ready. Conquered castles yield magic items and captured commanders who may turn traitor and join your forces.
Here's the problem with Dragon Force: It kept me from my work! This game is really awesome. I found myself having dreams of different strategies while I lay in bed or as I drove to and from work-sad but true. The graphics are pretty cool since it's a break from the realistic strategy games (as far as looks go). The game is simply huge. I like controlling Wein because I could imagine myself as him if I was a monarch to some land. The different types of soldiers and spells really added a lot to the game-some of the graphic effects of the spells are awesome. Overall, Dragon Force is a must-buy for any strategy gamer.
I have played over 300 games (his year, and I have to say Dragon Force is my favorite one yet. I like it better than any N64 or PlayStation game so far, and I came very close to giving DF a "10" (the game's interface could've used some work). I'm very behind in work because I couldn't stop playing the [dam game. The depth of DF is unbelievable, with dozens of unique characters, a rich and involving story line and a simple, yet fun and thorough combat system. If you don't enjoy strategy games, then by all means, skip my review. But if you do like strategy games, then Dragon Force has got to go on top of your "must-buy" list.
DF is about as good as a strategy game can get. It has a sprawling world, epic story line, a cast of thousands and the most awe-inspiring battles ever seen in a video game. Yet the game is extraordinarily easy to get into. It took me five minutes to leam how to use its menus then I was off, leading my armies of mages, samurai and dragons into battle. Hours later, I was still playing. (I've never seen a console strategy game this addicting.) Although DF is, above all, a strategy game, it contains strong RPG elements. Your generals come from different classes (fighter, magician, etc.), and successful battles make them more powerful.
For a person who doesn't like military sim titles, I was really taken aback by the quality of this game. The actual battle sequences are very entertaining to watch, especially when pitting hundreds of warriors against each other. I didn't enjoy the boring administrative qualities, but once past this hurdle, I was able to enjoy the action. If you can enjoy this type of game, including the mundane portions, you may add another point to my score. Another item that caught my eye was the brilliant character classes and how they affect each other differently in different matchups. This brings a new level of gameplay unheard of in a military sim.
2016-08-09 Dragon Force game added.