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     " I had to wonder if there were people out there who actually thought we had run out of attractive women who really exist. "

      Title: Drakan: The Ancient Gates by Sony Entertainment

      Format: Action/Adventure for PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

      The Hype: You and your dragon Ahrok must reopen all of the ancient dragon gates, but it won't be easy. The desert lords will place huge bosses tough challenges and hoards of enemies in your way. If you can make your way through the huge worlds without dying you can reestablish the order of the dragon riders.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: After playing this game for twenty or so hours and having defeated the third major boss character I decided that I ought to return to the first area in the game and get some new weapons and supplies (as well as finish off a few side quests). While I was flying around and exploring the incredibly vast area, I stumbled across something that rather startled me. It was the body of the very first enemy I had met and killed in the game. I checked around and found the bodies of damn near every enemy I had killed throughout the entire game (not counting really large guys with huge polygon counts). This is one of those cool little touches that the people at Surreal Entertainment (the developer) included in this game. The other great graphical aspects include beautiful surroundings and textures, cool weather effects and vast worlds to explore with very few load screens. The only things that really mar the graphical beauty of the game are the numerous (and I mean plenty) of clipping errors that occur throughout the game. But these rarely affect the gameplay so they didn't bother me too much. Oh and there is the part where the game developers constantly shove your heroine's breasts in your face by having her face the screen and lean forward every time you access the in-game menu. I don't know about the rest of you monkeys but like when I first saw the Lara Croft calendar I had to wonder if there were people out there who actually thought we had run out of attractive women who really exist. 4.5 out of 5.

      Sound: All right! Thank you for making another of those few games wherein I don't have to turn the volume down or plug my ears when characters are speaking. Yes, that's right I'm referring to voice acting. Unlike most games, Drakkan: TAG has decent if not often good voice acting. With many characters delivering their lines with great enthusiasm and scant few who speak as if this job is the worst fate they could possibly imagine. The sounds of your character running over stone, or dirt, or snow, etc. are very good as are the sounds that you're different weapons make when they hit enemies or different objects. The music is subtle with a few accents here and there and, of course the music picks up when the action is about to get intense. 4 out of 5.

      Playability: Speaking of intense action, this game has loads of it. In fact it almost has too much. Unlike similar action/adventure games this one doesn't revolve around solving puzzles to get objects or abilities that you need to get further in your quest. Rather, this game revolves around beating the ever-loving crap out of hoards of enemies in order to advance. This could have been a bad thing if the fighting system wasn't as well done as it was in this game. First of all the enemy lock-on system is necessary and works well in this game. But the best part about the fighting is the number of moves you have at your disposal. Of course you get the generic attack combo that works fine for fighting single enemies, but what about those situations where you have to fight multiple enemies at once? Well, when that situation comes about (and it will…often) you get a few extra moves to use. You have the ability in this game to thrust your sword in four directions (in front, to the right, to the left and behind you, this last one is the most useful) but not only do these blows damage enemies they also stun them for a while so you can move on and attack the other guys around you without being cut up too bad. The only real problem with the fighting is that the enemies are kind of stupid, in that when they spot you they run straight at you and if something gets in their way, they just stop and squirm while you pick them off with your spells or bow and arrow. And of course the Dragon flight kicks ass, it is exhilarating to dive straight at the ground, although combat in the air isn't nearly as refined as it is on the ground and the ceiling is far to low. The exploration in this game is actually quite disappointing. Don't get me wrong there are tons of areas to explore like little tiny winding paths around mountaintops, but most of these paths take you to absolutely nowhere, so there is no real point in finding or traveling along them. They need to give gamers rewards for finding hidden, or out of the way areas. 4 out of 5.

      Multiplayer and Replayability: There is no multiplayer and the main quest is quite large, so that doesn't really help, but the ability to level up your character in whatever way you want (you can maker her a super skilled swordswoman, archer or magician) along with the large amount of side quests lend their hands to give you some decent replay value. The big drawback to replay, though, is the at times super glitchiness that may mean you don't finish the game in the first place. Sometimes you will run across small glitches that don't really effect the gameplay like when you trigger a character's entire repertoire of responses at once, but then there is the glitch where you go through the cave into the frozen wastes, and if you aren't on your dragon, you sometimes come back to find that your dragon isn't there anymore and won't ever return (assholes! how could they miss something this big). My advice is to have at least two saves going at all times. 3 out of 5.

      Story/Dramatics: The story is very straightforward. You really won't be caught off guard at any point the plot follows a straight line and is really kind of uninteresting after a while. Basically you and your dragon are charged with the task of reopening the ancient dragon gates that will allow the dragon mother to reawaken and the order of the dragons (which was destroyed ages ago) to be reborn. But the Desert Lords (presumably demons from the netherworld who now live in your world) don't want that to happen because they will lose their power over the planet. So they will stop at nothing to keep you from achieving your goal. Nothing that is, except sending ten or so of their guys at you at once (which would be more than enough to finish you off once and for all). Instead they hire lackeys to do their bidding a halt you along your way (hence the bosses). All in all not a bad story, just not very original. 3 out of 5.

      The Verdict:

       This is definitely a solid gaming experience. The well made fighting system along with the huge assortment of weapons makes it okay that there aren't a lot of puzzles to solve and the graphics are by and large really cool.

      The Good: Great graphics, good sound, vast worlds, tons of enemies to kill and tons of bodies that stay at your feet.

      The Bad: There are some severe clipping errors and the story isn't that great.

      The Overall Ugly: If you buy this game don't plan on seeing your friends for a while.

      What it's Worth: This game would be worth market, but for the fact that it has been out for a while and the price has dropped to $29.99 almost everywhere so I'll say that it's worth market plus $10.00.

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