When I first started playing The Legend of Dragoon, I told myself, "OK, when I write up my review, I won't focus on its similarity to Final Fantasy VII (FF7) like everyone else has." Well, here I am writing my review, and all I can think about is its similarity to FF7, and how stale and unoriginal the whole experience is. This game is such a rip-off of Square's FF7 that I can't believe Sony hasn't been taken to court for copyright infringement. Three years in the making and over 100 brains on the development team—and this is the result? In a year full of copycat RPGs, Dragoon was touted as being a blockbuster game—one of the must-haves. Instead, it's the ultimate example of unimaginative game design—firmly cementing its place as the crown jewel of the many recent mediocre RPGs.
Here we go again with another case of "here we go again." Remember Cloud and Tifa from FF7? They've both gone to video game heaven and have been reincarnated as Dart and Shana in Dragoon. Once again we have two childhood friends—a strong-willed, spikey-haired boy and a cute, timid, dark-haired girl—who have just gone through puberty and now kind of like each other. How many more "epic" games will revolve their plots around such a ridiculous relationship? We think Shana loves Dart, but we never know because the characters aren't mature enough to express the idea, and neither is the game. However, we do know that if Shana does indeed love Dart, she'd have a hard time telling him because he thinks of her as a "little sister." They obviously have some issues to sort through before planning a wedding. It doesn't matter anyway. Dart would rather be chopping up monsters with his big sword than wasting time courting Shana, and that's exactly what he does. Shana tags along because she wants to be where ever Dart is. Is that love? I guess that's as good as it gets in videogames.
Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Dragoon's definition of love spares us from reading more of its poorly translated dialogue, once again proving that the genre still hasn't evolved past Final Fantasy II is some respects. The characters use the word "bastard" a lot, and there's even a Bastard Sword! I guess the idea of an illegitimate sword is a new one, or does it mean that only bastards can use the sword? That would make Dart the first bastard hero in videogames wouldn't it? Either way, it's the extent to which Dragoon breaks new ground.
But let's not focus solely on the one-dimensional characters and bad writing when there are so many other aspects of Dragoon that follow proven RPG conventions. How about the look of the game, which mirrors FF7 in practically every way imaginable? The graphics are made up of pre-rendered, still images—on top of which the polygonal characters move about. Of course, even when your party grows to as many as six characters, you only see the main character (Dart) walking around. Certain events cause the rest of the crew to magically emerge from Dart's body as if they've been taking up residence in his undergarments. And even though the whole group always travels together, only three of them can fight at once. I guess if you could control more than that during a battle, the game wouldn't be like FF7 anymore, and we can't have that can we?
The battles take place in 3-D, and are randomly—annoyingly—triggered. You'll know when monsters are attacking when the frame suddenly freezes and the colors bleed off the screen. It's a very slow process that's followed by an even slower one—the perspective lazily panning around the battlefield before settling on a fixed viewpoint from which we can watch the fight unfold. For all of this build-up, the actual battles themselves are pretty anti-climatic. The bad guys never attack in groups of more than three, and they're usually composed of small, pesky critters—not the impressive encounters the game makes them out to be. Afterwards, we get a shot of the good guys celebrating their victory by twirling their weapons in the air to triumphant music. In case you're wondering, we experienced the exact same scenario in FF7. If you think you'll get tired of sitting through that after a while, run for the hills, because in Dragoon battles are a constant, and they follow the same format every time.
I should mention that some very, very minor changes were made in the process of ripping off FF7, probably so Sony can say their game is just different enough to justify its existence. Limit Breaks have been replaced in Dragoon by Additions, which require timely button presses during battle to execute more powerful attacks. It's really just a cheap attempt at creating more interest in the boring combat sequences, and it doesn't work. Normal attacks are so weak that Additions must be used regularly in order to inflict any kind of significant damage, and some boss characters even punish you for not getting the button presses right by negating your attack and returning the favor—which actually defeats the whole purpose of the feature to begin with. Furthermore, these special moves don't look very cool when performed, and they have all have dumb names like "Double Slash" and "Double Punch."
Magical item attacks have also been given a certain level of interactivity in that you're forced to jam on the X button to take off more enemy hit points. As a result of this brilliant feature, my fairly new Dual Shock controller now malfunctions on a regular basis. Other variations in gameplay were just thrown in to make the game needlessly difficult—like your party only being able to carry a maximum of 32 items. This makes absolutely no sense when you consider the size to which the good-guy group eventually grows—a group of six should be able to carry at least twice that number. But it's just an arbitrary setting, serving no logical purpose except that it defies the Final Fantasy rules just enough as to not get Sony into legal trouble.
Through all of my Dragoon bashing, I've failed to mention the game's namesake, the Dragoons themselves, who do little more than provide the game with a vehicle to show off some snazzy special effects and allow the characters to cast magic spells. We've seen the word "dragoon" used in other RPGs, but in this instance a Dragoon is a unique person found worthy enough to control the Dragon Spirit, which gives the individual untold power during combat. Of course all of the members of your party eventually acquire this power, leading me to believe that it's not as special as the game would have you believe. In fact, the power stones that give the Dragoons their power are passed around among the characters in the game like so many joints. In the end, the concept of transforming into a Dragoon doesn't affect the gameplay in any major way, simply because all of the characters can do it, and the game is adjusted accordingly.
Dragoon is four discs full of contrived storytelling, repetitious action and RPG cliches. More importantly, it's an effective lesson on how to cash-in on a popular game franchise. Sony was hoping to unleash an RPG milestone on the gaming populace, and ended up embarrassing their entire internal development division with a game that not only refuses to distinguish itself from anything else out there, but steals all of its ideas from an established bestseller. If The Legend of Dragoon is expected to leave any kind of legacy, it will be as Sony's attempt at buying their way into a crowded RPG market.
According to ESRB, this game contains animated blood, animated violence.
Parents should be aware of the game's standard RPG violence, most of which is pretty tame. Of more concern is the sorry excuse for dialogue, which will have your children reading bad writing in no time! And to those who want to teach their kids the word "bastard"—go out and buy The Legend Of Dragoon immediately!
RPG fans who can't get enough of Final Fantasy VII will have a veritable feast with The Legend Of Dragoon. The game achieves perfection in capitalizing on (stealing) everything that made Final Fantasy VII so popular. It's unoriginality taken to the extreme, and it overshadows any good points the game might have had otherwise. That should be enough warning for those of you who value your time, and to even for those who don't.
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I know I might be wasting my time typing this in 2018 on an article written in 2001, but this article is such a dumpster fire that I just can’t resist. “We think Shana loves Dart, but we never know because the characters aren’t mature enough to express the idea, and neither is the game … They obviously have some issues to sort through before planning a wedding.” Except the ending cutscene shows their wedding. Fucking whoops. So much for his whole “YeS, I pLaYeD tHe WhOlE gAmE, gUyS” schtick in his follow-up article. “Dragoon’s definition of love spares us… Read more »
I keep seeing the argument over LoD and FF7 but I honestly do not see it. Everyone just seems to bluntly state it as fact without any example or reference. I have both games, and I’ve played them both through childhood. I’m not defending either game, and quit frankly both of their fandoms are generally terrible, but I’m asking for someone to point these similarities out to me. Their storylines never seemed very similar, other than the one scene at the end of both games first disk, but other than that one scenario one game tells the story of a… Read more »
With the review here, I heard about this game ages ago and only found it for very very cheap on a garage sale (2 bucks) say completely worth the price for sure…. but does it worth more ? ABSOLUTELY NO Overall from start to finish it seems to me that sony’s response to squaresoft Final Fantasy VII seems like a pure clone and it took 3 years to develop… just think of it as a mediocre RPG experience I’ve played JRPG’s a lot. The gameplay is heavy as a ton of bricks, the battle system with the combo isn’t really… Read more »
I played LoD recently because I heard it was a very good game. Many people recommended it to me and I thought ‘Oh, it must be really nice!’ but sadly, I got very dissapointed. I’ve played plenty of Rpgs, It’s my fave game genre. As regard LoD, I found the story line quite unoriginal, and the characters weren’t interesting at all. You could basically describe them by their armor colour. therefore, I found it very hard to sympatize with them. I sort of forced myself to keep on playing just to see if it would get better, but in the… Read more »
That i can play this 12 years ago from its release, becomed a cult classic
Not replying just didnt know how else to post. I know this is 2 years too late but I just randomly decided I wanted to play an old rpg at 5:50 am, went on google and came across this board. I have both lod and ff7 and having beaten both of them several times. I enjoy each for its own reasons and dont understand why people complain about what THEY dont like about either game. If you start playing a game and dont like it, dont play it. Anyway heres why I like each one. LOD had the addition system… Read more »
No worries, Kat. I’m not offended at all by your comments. However, I do want to point out that the similarities between The Legend Of Dragoon and Final Fantasy VII don’t lie in the plot, but in the presentation and gameplay. If you just sit down and play the two games back to back, I think you’ll quickly see just how much The Legend Of Dragoon steals from Final Fantasy VII. This isn’t a bad thing inherently. Lots of games use older games as inspiration, but to me, The Legend Of Dragoon came off as a completely unoriginal role playing… Read more »
Oh, I didn’t believe you were favoring Final Fantasy 7 in the first place. I saw where you said you didn’t like the seventh title very much on *A Game Critic’s Nightmare*. For me, it’s just odd to encounter someone who doesn’t revere the game. I think it’s a fair product; not one I’m going to hang onto, but I tend to avoid its fan-base and sequels. FF 7: Advent Children was ineffective an aimless. Outside of the highly refined graphics, I don’t understand its popularity. Anyway, thanks for clearing up the similarities portion. I was waiting for that kind… Read more »
Actually, I prefer and seek out standalone titles, so I’ve never been concerned with a prequel, sequel, or remake. I first noticed the above when Resident Evil 5 was introduced. I don’t want to feel as if I’m following a never-ending storyline. I want to play games that have a beginning and a concrete ending. To me, The Legend of Dragoon is a pretty compact title (story wise). There are RPG, Final Fantasy 8, for instance that I’ve recently re-played and didn’t enjoy all that much, but LoD manages to be one of the games that I still have fun… Read more »
Thanks for your comments, Kat, but I don’t see the reason to explain my objections to minor details like the random battles and victory poses, simply because I had already stated that they were just further evidence of how the game blatantly imitated Final Fantasy VII. Seriously, it surprises that there are still fans out there who refuse to acknowledge this pretty obvious fact. Sony clearly wasn’t trying to do anything original with The Legend Of Dragoon. They were merely trying to shamelessly capitalize on the popularity of Final Fantasy VII. My review was harsh, but I stand by it.… Read more »
Ben, I saw your comment from February 2009 and beg to differ. You got some overly-rude responses from e-mail, which is unfortunate. Yet, you failed to address the legitimate claims some of the nicer people made. Unless I missed another link, I did not see any explanation for your objections to the Legend of Dragoon having random battles, a three-team party, or victory poses. Even today, many RPG contain these elements. I fail to see why LoD’s are *so* much worse. And, I think it makes sense for the characters to have rather normal Additions while they are not in… Read more »
there is no way you played the entire game, and your review shows that as clear as day. if you had played the game, you would have known that there are cooler additions later on. look, I can understand if you hate the game, but that doesn’t give you the right to call its fans Nazis! I find that pretty offensive, considering that the Nazis killed millions of Jews whereas Dragoon fans are just calling out one reviewer for not actually playing the entire game before writing a review. there are too many reviewers like you, who are afraid to… Read more »
This review is just wrong. When you first start out the game it does seem like it’s a rip-off of FFVII. But as you progress, it becomes less and less like FFVII. Unlike the previously mentioned game, it has characters that are actually likeable and whose backstories don’t seem cheesy and fake. No one in the game is truly evil with the exception of the final boss, and everyone does what they do for a reason. Even Emperor Doel has his motives, and Albert struggles to reconcile his memories of the uncle he loved with the actions this man took… Read more »
Hi, I was just looking around trying to find forums relating to LOD when I came across your reviews. I can see why your piss the f*ck off…”THE GRAPHICS FOR THE GAME SUCKS! NOTHING LIKE FF” but the thing is, your liking ff more because of its better quality. I’m not talking about the graphic for the story line because LOD’s story line clip kills ff, but unfortunately LOD role playing graphics doesn’t look as pleasant and better like ff’s. I know that you like ff more because of its quality. I can tell, because from your review, you wrote,… Read more »
I have heard some unfair reviews of this game but this one just raises the bar to a whole new level. it is absurd. Legend of dragoon is not a ripoff of final fantasy 7(in fact, it is infinitely superior to final fantasy 7). I could say that im pleased with this review and, how can i not be with such great points as “LOD rips of FF7 becuase there is a female and male character that are in love each-other” or “LOD is a ripoff becuase you have 3 character in the battle at once?” yes, you could say… Read more »
[quote=Anonymous]Damn, I really can’t believe he said that about The Legend of Dragoon. To clear one thing up, EVERY RPG IS ALIKE IN SOME WAY. Almost every Final Fantasy is exactly the same and to compare this to Final Fantasy 7, which is the most over-rated game of all time and came out 3 years before The Legend Of Dragoon is retarded. I’m a person who plays a lot of games and The Legend Of Dragoon is by far my favorite game of all time and everyone who played it agrees. 10/10 [/quote] Wow, I’m sold. Obviously this is a… Read more »
Damn, I really can’t believe he said that about The Legend of Dragoon. To clear one thing up, EVERY RPG IS ALIKE IN SOME WAY. Almost every Final Fantasy is exactly the same and to compare this to Final Fantasy 7, which is the most over-rated game of all time and came out 3 years before The Legend Of Dragoon is retarded. I’m a person who plays a lot of games and The Legend Of Dragoon is by far my favorite game of all time and everyone who played it agrees. 10/10
Legend of Dragoon is without a question of a doubt the greatest RPG ever, i repeat ever released. Yeah sure the character graphics may have been pretty crappy but this game allows for hours of enjoyment and fun as you learn and discover more about these ORIGINAL characters :). I mean really look at some of the RPG’s that are out even now? None worth mentioning on the 360 nor the PS3 and the PS2 barly scraped in with FFX. People should realli play and beat this game before passing judgement
Ben Hopper’s review of Legend of Dragoon was probably the worst I have seen. Comparing it to Final Fantasy 7 in that it had the main guy character and main female character fall in love? Wtf, a lot of RPGs do that. Most of the Final Fantasy games do that as well as other RPGs. I just know by reading his reviews I won’t listen to anything he says. I’m willing to bet that either Sony paid him to make half-assed comparisons to their games or he just not that knowledgeable about RPGs. I give his review a 2/10 and… Read more »
Wow, this review continues to get comments. Too funny. For your information, I addressed many of your gripes in a completely separate feature dedicated to all the hate mail this review received. However, I did not write this review out of “pure, blind hate.” I wrote it because I played the game, and I thought it was basically garbage. I could have given it a much lower score, believe me, but I tried to give some credit for the relatively high production values, even though the game didn’t contain one original idea, and the gameplay was completely derivative and boring.
when i bought lod many years ago and played it for the first time, like you i didn’t much like the game i thought it was boring and a little repetitive. if you would have played through the whole game and watched the story unfold you would realize how great the game actually was. i loved the story line so much that i couldn’t just play the game once i have beat it several times and still plug in the old playstation every once in awhile just to remind myself how much i loved the game. in your review you… Read more »
I really try to keep out of the constant online bickering, but when I see something written out of pure, blind hate, it makes me wonder why their is so much stupidity in the world. There is not much Ican stomach saying about this review, but he is right. This game is un-original. WHO CARES? Play the game for fun and stop overanylyzing fictional characters! One thing I can,t let go , though, Is the comment on the Bastard sword. In this man’s rush to spew hate, he forgot to do enough research to find out that their is such… Read more »
Ben Hopper can suck a fat one.
I think they should really make a remake of Legend of Dragoon for the Playstation 2 it was and still is a great rpg for the playstation but i would really like to see it on the playstation 2 with all new graphics and voice’s in it not just silent words.