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Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern - More Than a Disappointment

by: Finn Orfano ; edited by: Bill Fulks ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

As you can judge from the title, Dragon Riders is a story about the spiritual link between humans and dragons in an ancient time. If you are a dragon lover, you probably can enjoy it as you have your very own dragon but it all may end when you see how it looks like.

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    Introduction

    There was once a coder, sitting in his comfortable chair at his own house. He recently heard about some games topping the selling charts such as Diablo II and Baldur's Gate II. Leaning back, he started dreaming about a game with the same success. “Susan?”, said the lead programmer to his secretary. “Wasn't your little brother playing an RPG? What is an RPG?”, he asked. “I don't know boss, but I had to buy him a 3D video card”. The coder scratched some notes on his papers, "RPG = 3D". He asked what else, and the secretary told him that her son had to speak with a lot of people because of some quests. The coder scratched again on the same paper, RPG = 3D + Quests. At this precise moment, his eyes saw a game magazine next to him with an article about Dungeons and Dragons. “Dragons!” he said, and added them to the recipe.

    The only thing he had to do is form a small team and start earning some money or completely fail. So there they are, but as in every team there are people with lower skills than the rest. The lead designer, the one who designed the dragon, used one plucked chicken as a model that his wife was cooking earlier. Actually, who cares? The recipe for success was there, and Dragons were one of the ingredients.

    There is no guaranty that the game studio started the creation of Dragon Riders: Chronicles Of Pern this way, but I pretty much seem to be right about it. It could have been worse though, so no worries.

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    Gameplay

    The game starts with a boring intro with good sound where you will understand the plot. It's about the spiritual link between humans and dragons in the world of Pern, based on the novels of Anne McCaffrey. This way, the elite fighters called Dragon Riders appeared.

    Our main hero is called D'kor, and the story starts with the death of the local Weyrwoman, but don't ask me how you pronounce this. We only know what this particular Weyrwoman is the boss of the clan Weyr. After her death the clan has to decide who will be the new leader.

    In every normal RPG, you are introduced to the game interface for the first few minutes, normally a pseudo training mission. You will find however, that in Dragon Riders there is no such thing. Your first task is to find a bottle with oil and dragon skin in some house. This is where you will find the biggest disappointment of this game – it doesn't supports the mouse. Yes, you heard me – no mouse!

    The control is pretty much as in Grim Fandango and when you start looking for something in your inventory – it can take you five minutes to find it by using the keyboard. The camera is awful; it only moves when you don't want it to and doesn't moves when you want it to. I could call Dragon Riders slow, too, no matter there is a running key, no matter you can regulate the speed of dialogs – the game is still slow and the first mission will feel like ages.

    After few minutes of completely illogical and boring dialogs with every NPC you meet. Not to mention that the dialogs are in the form of movies and you cannot skip or stop them at all. And then again, you will get disoriented by the “perfect” camera movement and go to the same guy again, listening the same boring dialog.

    The inventory could have been perfect if you could use this strange and unknown to many people device called a mouse. But come on, enough whims. The real role-playing gamer doesn't mind it! In the left side of your inventory you can see D'kor's attributes – knowledge, reputation and power. To them is connected one of the few nice things in this game – you cannot access a particular quest for example if you don't have enough points in these 3. Unfortunately these quests consist of: “I lost my glasses 20 yards north of here, please find them and I will give you 5000 gold coins”. Probably the authors thought they will compensate it by adding illogical phrases in the dialogs to make you dizzy.

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    Dragon Riders Can't Fly

    Yes, you heard me. Forget any flying or battles on the back of your dragon because in Dragon Riders your dragon is a secretary and a teleport device, but not something you can fly on. The fights are very simple - you only have two attacks and a block. One good aspect is that the world and most of the NPC's are designed well for the time when the game was released, but you won't find the graphics that attractive now though. However, the good effect of it disappears when you see your dragon-chicken and your very own character.

    Although there are reviews who claim that this game has a deep and interesting story, sorry but I couldn't find it. For me it's just one of those games that make my Recycle Bin go full. Sorry, I'm not a shift+del lover.