PC REVIEW: I OF THE DRAGON

Not a unique idea by any stretch but one that has never been fully realized is the premise of playing as a fire-breathing dragon wreaking havoc on the world below. The possibilities are endless with elements of flight simulation, first person shooting, strategy, role playing, aerial combat and relentless action. Sadly, I of the Dragon only hints at the fun that might have been.

Raining death upon you enemy from above is a great concept, even better if you're a living, breathing, killing machine like a dragon. For a game like this to work you actually have to become the dragon. That will require a control system that's flexible, deep and easy to learn. Unfortunately the control system is none of the above. There is not enough flexibility or depth. While at first the directions of flight may seem easy enough (only because they are limited), you have to include the various attack combinations which can get confusing when you're swarmed by enemies.

The keypads and the arrows dictate direction but it's as though you can only fly forward, left and right. You can't dodge attacks from the enemy properly by shifting a little to either side. You have to bank hard which makes you lose your attack perspective forcing you to take another pass at it. Although the controls are re-configurable on the keyboard it would have made more sense to implement the use of a joystick for more fluid movements.

There are three playable dragons. One is your typical fire-breathing variety while the other two breathe ice and acid. Not only do they spit out fireballs and other volatile rhume but they also are able to utilize magic spells to combat the evil hordes. I did mention that these dragons are the good guys, didn't I?

While piloting your dragon, one of the most important aspects to keep track of is your altitude. The closer you get to Earth the more deadly your attacks become but also the more lethal becomes the enemy. They will literally overwhelm you at some points when you come to swoop in. You will need to swoop in to take care of some of the spawning nests of the evil creatures, as well as too feed. One of the more interesting parts of the game is when the dragons scoop a mouthful of enemies for a nice light snack. Listening to the juicy chomping sounds and watching the resulting bloody mess as the dragons scoff their prey is truly a gratifying experience.

Now for the complaints. Using the camera perspective from that of the dragon is very limiting. The limited peripheral view makes you vulnerable to attack from the sides. The auto-targeting is sometimes faulty in that it won't always target the enemy that is closest to you. Another problem is that some of the missions involve land-based characters, not dragons. These missions just drag on (pun intended). The landscape is barren for the most part but when you do come across a tree you'll probably find yourself getting stuck in it. The first person perspective is also terribly limiting. The interface and the menus are awful. They are confusing and difficult to navigate at the best of times. A severe overhaul is needed just to bring this game up to a comfortable playing level.

If you were to look beyond the dated, simplistic graphics, the flawed mechanics and the poorly designed interface, you would be staring at some raw code. In other words, you can't overlook the game's flaws. The only good things I can say about this game is that it's short and you won't want to replay it. It might, however, inspire a developer to make a better version of this concept.

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System: PC
Dev: Primal Software
Pub: Strategy First
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
2.5
CONTROL
1.5
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
0