LoD is the story of a young man named Dart, and his friends who have been chosen as “dragoons.” In the beginning of the game Dart returns to his hometown to find it under siege. Dart, being the hero he is, runs in and attacks the soldiers attacking the village. Dart discovers that his friend named Shana has been taken to a prison nearby and Dart rushes off to save her. I won’t say much more as to keep from spoiling. LoD has an excellent story to say the least, but the problem is that it takes a long time to develop. When you get to a certain point in the game it just drops a bombshell and then the story moves quite fast from then on. At that point LoD sucks you in and you’ll forget about all the little annoyances and keep on playing. The story is LoD’s strongest quality.
The Battle System in LoD is different from other RPGs. The reason for this is that it takes the traditional Active Time Battle system, but adds an interesting twist (well what seems to be interesting at first). In LoD you take charge of 3 characters at a time, battling herds of evil monsters, which is normal for any “modern” RPG. When the battle begins, you have a choice of attack, defend, item, or run. When you choose attack, your character runs up to the enemy and slashes, but wait, you’re not done! LoD uses a tap and strike type of fighting. If you hit the button at the right time you will be able to do a succession of hits, which is obviously more powerful then a normal hit. The problem with this is that if you’re not good at timed button hits, your going to have a hard time building SP.
SP in LoD is used to turn the characters into dragoons later in the game (kind of like a long limit break). Dragoons are a very big part of the later battles in LoD; when you transform into a dragoon, your attack goes up and you are allowed to do special moves, etc. The Dragoon form also allows you to use the only real “magic” in the game (in the traditional sense). This “magic” consists of the person’s element. Each character has a certain element. For example, the main character’s element is red for fire. In LoD the normal elements are opposites, like blue and red, but there are also 2 elements with no opposites.
Instead of traditional magic, you use items that heal, attack, or protect, etc. The attack items also have a button pushing technique to make them gain power. Trust me at the end of the game you will be VERY sick of hitting the X button. The battles force you to pay attention and actually get you involved, which is in a way good and bad, it just depends on if you actually want to pay attention or not.
The usual RPG stuff is definitely in LoD. The equipment in LoD is the usual weapon, Armor and enhancements/accessories. This is nothing special, as is the same with experience. You kill enemies and build up levels. LoD does, though, make it hard to build up levels and collect cash: battles give very little of either. I usually only found myself leveling up after boss fights, which makes you want to avoid all possible random battles, which of course there are tons of. Overall the gameplay in LoD is average, nothing really special.
The graphics in LoD are above average. The FMV in the game is excellent, but during the actual game play there is nothing special. The pre-rendered backgrounds are on the same level as FF8, but the character models are not real worth looking at. When you play the game, the characters are always either too close or too far away and it never does them justice. The characters are always blocky looking. On the other hand though, all the pre-rendered backgrounds are well done. The places you visit look real, and the leaves on trees move, water flows, etc. The FMV in LoD is very scarce but when they happen, they blow you away. The movement, the realism and the action all work together perfectly and create some great FMVs. After the first disk, the FMV just seems to lack until the very end, making the middle of the game bland.
The battle graphics in LoD are top notch. The spell effects, fighting and dragoon attacks/magic are very well done. When you attack in LoD, it actually looks like you’re attacking and causing damage to the enemy. The combos look great and work well together, as does the magic. None of the magic affects are as long and annoying as FF summons, so that is a definite plus!
I’d have to say that the music in LoD is the most disappointing part of the game. The introduction song is the best in the whole game, and that’s about it. The Battle music is HORRIBLE, it get annoying very fast. The rest of LoD’s music is ok, but not up to today’s Rpg standards. I found myself, during the battles, turning the sound down and playing FF7 and other game soundtracks to fight the battles with, much more appealing. The rest of the music in LoD fits the game well, but most aren’t emotional enough. The music doesn’t put you in the mood it should, but is good none-the-less.
The sound effects in LoD are decent but the only one that comes to mind is the sword clashing, which didn’t sound very real out of battle. LoD does have great battle sound effects though. The magic sounds great, as does the fighting. The sword clashing in the battles for some reason sounded a lot better then during gameplay.
The voice acting in LoD is some of the best in an American RPG. Sony did an excellent job picking voice actors. They fit in well and give the right emotions (and they actually sound serious). Some of the voice acting for certain characters (like Dart) could have been better, but the main actors did a great job! This is the reason LoD gets higher then a 50% in sound/music.
Overall LoD is an average RPG. I would recommend renting it to experience a great story. LoD is great story-wise but everything else just brings it down. If Sony plans on making a sequel, let’s hope they improve all if LoD’s upsets. I guess we will just have to see!