Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: September 6, 1999
I have always loved to read fantasy fiction because it takes me far away from the mundane realities that surround me. This kind of literature captures your imagination and takes you to a world totally different from your own, filled with beauty and magic. Yet at the same time the unreal environment is rich with detail, governed by a set of logical rules all its own. Anne McCaffrey’s The DragonRiders of Pern, in which a woman and a dragon have a special symbiotic relationship, is a great example of this escape from reality.
Since I first heard quite a long time ago about Drakan: Order of the Flame, I have been filled with excitement. As a lover of both action and adventure titles, this hybrid has promised to give me a double dose of my favorite kind of play. Developed by a highly talented group at Seattle-based Surreal Software for the British publisher Psygnosis, this offering has had “Triple A” quality written all over it. With the combination of an attractive and feisty heroine riding a huge fire-breathing dragon, it has seemed like a sure bet. But has the final product fulfilled my expectations? The answer is somewhat mixed, although overall, I like the release quite a bit.
The story begins in a most dramatic fashion. Rynn, the heroine, is strolling along with her brother when both are attacked by vicious monsters. When she comes to after having been knocked unconscious, she discovers everything around her is destroyed and her brother is kidnapped. Then a priest tells her right before he dies that she must find his holy book and return it to the temple. In the process of her meandering, she meets up with an ancient dragon named Arokh. With the plot, which involves a long-standing confrontation between the Order of the Flame and the Dark Union, thickening with each step, together they discover the source of all the ongoing chaos and bloodshed — the evil sorcerer Navaros. While this plot is not particularly original or deep, it does provide a nice framework for the action.
Given that this is an adventure using a third-person perspective, there are sure to be those who compare Rynn to Lara Croft and Drakan to Eidos’ Tomb Raider series. But Drakan is not an imitation of anything, and I find that comparison both mindless and inappropriate for a number of reasons. First, a good chunk of the action in Drakan takes place with Rynn riding the dragon, very much unlike Tomb Raider. Second, you have much more precise and flexible control over Rynn than you do Lara.
Indeed, I find Rynn much more appealing than Lara, and much more similar to April Ryan of Funcom’s forthcoming adventure The Longest Journey and Lilah of SegaSoft’s adventure-puzzle classic Obsidian. These two women join Rynn in exhibiting real spunk and determined drive rather than primal titillation of male players. Using numerous kinds of weapons to fight her adversaries, Rynn shows both dexterity and intelligence in overcoming those who stand in her way. Her strength is skill, speed and agility, not brute force.
The dragon Arokh is the most visually impressive creation in Drakan, and I almost fell out of my chair when I first experienced dragon flight. Indeed, it is the dragon that lifts the visuals from the mundane to the magnificent. I have always hated playing flight simulators, but the experience here is so much better than that. Moreover, using the dragon to engulf everything in flames is quite fun. But somehow the dragon-versus dragon combat left me a bit flat. And after playing the parts of the story using Arokh, the parts where Rynn just fights on the ground pale by comparison.
Pages: 1 2 3