Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why Should You Be Excited for Drakengard 3?

Some games out there are just kind of a hard sell.  We like them, love them even, even though there are many, many flaws to them.  Many flaws.  Many.  Multiple.  They're not perfect by any stretch, nor can we even say "Oh, yeah, there's -this-, but you can ignore it" because the flaws are big ones.  Drakengard 1 and 2 each have their own which make them particularly hard sells in their own right.

Drakengard 1's combat is archaic, to put it lightly - the entire game about murdering things doesn't actually lend itself well to really getting out there and slaughtering by the tons.  Sure, you'll end up with bodycounts in the hundreds and thousands (Seriously one level in particular you can, oftentimes -do-, end up with a bodycount between 1,000-2,000 enemies) but getting to that point....wasn't that great.  It's unfortunate, really.  Drakengard 2's combat wasn't much better (though some outlets claim it was playable...perhaps I'm a bit biased against it) but it was, apparently, better.  Of course, the entire reason to play Drakengard 1 was for the story which got progressively and exponentially more and more batshit crazy as it went along.  Drakengard 2's story, on the other hand wasn't nearly as good and focused on a cast that was meant to be likeable in contrast to the original's group, yet ended up feeling hollow and annoying at best, going completely counter to point.

Nier, on the other hand, was much, much easier to recommend to folks.  Combat wasn't flashy and amazing, but it was far more capable than the two iterations in the Drakengard series.  Plus, as with Drakengard 1, the story is worth paying attention to, but not because it gets batshit, but because it gets more and more involving, touching and, at times, depressing.  The cast is wonderfully developed as well and remains the only instance in (Action) RPGs where they've introduced a child character that wasn't annoying in every facet of her existence.  Complaints ranged from vapid (as in meritless) - That whole fishing fiasco kerfuffle, whining that the game is ugly, uses too much bloom - to reasonable ones - trying to 100% the game takes forever and is not encouraged, nor worth it, a couple of the areas -are- a bit much, in terms of forced combat and length - but overall are mild enough that, even pitting the litany of them against the pros of the story, the characters and the soundtrack, it's still something we can easily describe as "Worth it" and have it fit a broad enough appeal of the phrase to be correct.

Nier is, however, a decidedly different beast than what Drakengard 1 and 2 were and while it may be the actual progression of that style, I'm not quite sure it will be.  Where Nier had a semi-open world to travel across, Drakengard had levels (Chapters and Verses, rather) that had a set-up for each and every one.  You are in a forest level for this reason, the sea temple for that reason, etc. etc.  It's very constricted, which is something that we've by-and-large out-grown in the games that have come out since.  Not saying that it isn't possible to make each of those levels wonderful so that it's not a problem, just that it's not immediately accessible to people.  Combine with the likelihood of Drakengard 3 following that, with the history of the first and second games and the idea that combat may be merely good at best, it's hard to tell you that Drakengard 3 is a game that will sit alone on a pedestal as a game you should look into, should have excitement for, feel -anything- for.

Yet, that is precisely the reason you likely -should- be excited, should be looking forward to Drakengard 3 for.  Some games have their over-the-top spectacle to fall back on, to be the thing that embeds them in your mind.  We'll all remember Uncharted 2 for that moment when you were inside a building that was physically falling over and God of War 2 where the tutorial was murdering the hell out of the Colossus of Rhodes.  Other games maintain that a tightly-controlled, polished experience will keep you coming back for more and more, and the technical workhorses that are the Call of Duty games (while we may groan, they -are- usually locked to a butter-smooth framerate and tuned to accentuate the shooting) are a good example of this as well given their commercial and critical success, no matter how many people who call themselves 'hardcore' or what have you roll their eyes.

Only a select few games really try to have a story or an experience that will burn itself into your memory.  Games like Heavy Rain do this by making the story personal - the ending you get, considering your actions, is -your- ending from then on, even if you go on to play it again.  Others do this by making the story something truly provocative, intellectually or morally, so that you paint things in other games by your freshly expanded mental toolset.  Games like Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2, like Planescape Torment, made particular use of this tactic and because of that, you still hear about them to this day.  While I'm not suggesting Drakengard 3 will be in the same 'hallowed halls' as these games, I -am- suggesting it will likely be special enough to be singled out for a similar reason, as was Nier.  And, in a sense, Drakengard 1, given that it was an experiment in wallowing in Anti-Heroes in a terrible world that only succeeds in getting more and more messed up the further down the rabbit hole you get.

Drakengard 2 was just awful, though.

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