Project Draco Preview – Panzer Dragoon For The New Generation
Written Saturday, September 24, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Flying dragons. Dragon riders. Sounds familiar, huh? Well, of course it does, I’ve basically just described Panzer Dragoon from the SEGA Saturn era, circa 1995, but what I’ve also done – because I’m very canny like that – is describe Microsoft and Grounding Inc’s upcoming Kinect-only title, Project Draco. Okay, so I’d be clutching at straws if I was to say that Project Draco was a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon based on those things alone, but take into account the fact that it’s an on-rails shooter, is made by pretty much the same team, has you chasing after a much bigger dragon, and it has dragons and dragon riders… oh wait, I already mentioned that, and the similarities are plain to see. Get this though, right… when you abbreviate Panzer Dragoon and Project Draco you get exactly the same abbreviation: PD! Mind = blown!
Project Draco is Microsoft’s Kinect-only title heading to the Xbox Live Arcade sometime in 2012. A title that Grounding Inc will tell you is deeply rooted in its sci-fi values, as opposed to fantasy values, something that’s hard to believe as we watched a red dragon on-screen swoop around above an arctic tundra-style environment. The objective of the game is simple: fly about on your dragon’s back, pluck all those pesky hostile inhabitants out the sky, and chase down a much bigger and powerful dragon in some wonderfully diverse environments. Grounding Inc, by its own admission though, will tell you that it’s not about the story, it’s about the experience.
Grounding Inc’s title for the most part controls like Child of Eden, utilising a multi-faceted approach with Kinect for the shooter aspects. Using their left hand, players will be able to aim a free-unassisted weapon of choice, which will fire where the player aims the reticule with their hand – in this case, it was “fire breath.” On the other hand - yes, the right one - it’s a matter of locking onto multiple targets by hovering the reticule over them and firing by using a throwing action with the right hand – much like how The Gunstringer and Child of Eden controlled. Even throwing both hands in the air will perform a devastating screen filling attack – just like Euphoria in Child of Eden. The rest of the controls boil down to leaning left and right, and crouching down to steer the dragon on-screen – remember though, this is an on-rails shooter, so you’re not manipulating where the dragon flies.
Unlike in Child of Eden though, players will have the ability to upgrade their powers throughout the game. Your left hand skills can be upgraded by feeding the dragon at your camp in between missions, choosing which power you want to take with you at the beginning of each mission, while the right hand skills actually grow as your dragon gains experience points – more health, more powerful attacks and so on. Project Draco does have an RPG-esque system at its core, although how much choice you get seems limited, but performing well in missions, building up combos and taking less damage and such will mean higher scores and thus, more XP and rewards in the post mission screen. That’s not all either, as according to Grounding Inc there’ll be more than five dragons throughout the game too, which will be different types with different attributes and attacks, offering a different experience for players.
In the two missions that we went eyes-on with, we got to check out this vast icy tundra environment with destructible rock formations and icebergs littering the icy waters below, as well as heading to a much more vibrant tropical jungle setting, with large dangerous butterfly-esque beasts fluttering around our intrepid dragon rider. Considering it’s an Xbox Live Arcade title, the visuals and production values are pretty damn impressive and Grounding Inc has also said that we can expect loads more rich and diverse environments, including urban ruins and such. What’s even better is that they’ll be delivering all that and more in three-player online co-op too, where you take in your own customised dragon. However, the details on this mode are still being closely held to Microsoft and Grounding Inc’s chest.
It’s actually Project Draco’s depth though that’s going to appeal more to core gamers than possibly any Kinect title out there at the moment, with RPG elements, high-scores, dragon upgrades and so on, rounding out an experience that you’d normally expect to play with a controller. And considering that Project Draco is an Xbox Live Arcade title, the production values are surprisingly high. If Microsoft and Grounding Inc’s objective was to tap into more of a core audience with the Kinect-only Project Draco, then deriving a game from a classic core title like Panzer Dragoon and giving it a new spirit is certainly the way to do it.
Panzer Dragoon, I mean, Project Draco, is scheduled for a 2012 release on the Xbox Live Arcade.