At it's core Panzer Dragoon is nothing more than Afterburner with a Dragon motif. Now don't get me wrong, Sega's flag ship Saturn launch game may not have all the interaction that other games offer, but what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for with a fully realized world.
In fact, the world is so fully realized that it's hard to believe that there is a sequel (and a role playing game) that furthers this universe. But let's not forget, this game has extremely limited replay. There are a handful of endings based on how well you do each level, but the game really isn't that much fun to replay.
But the good news is that no matter what difficulty you set Panzer Dragoon on it will take you quite a while to beat. This game is serious when it stresses it's difficulty. No joke. And to actually see a good ending it's nearly impossible. It's refreshing to see a game that takes a few tries to beat.
I cannot stress enough how fantastic the level design and characters are in the game. The levels range from huge outdoor levels, fast cavern mazes, and far into the sky. There's enough variety here to make you completely forget that this game is on rails. The Panzer Dragoon series also allows for complete 360 degree firing, simply by rotating around.
And even though the game was a launch title, Panzer Dragoon is fully compatible with the analog control released years later. The control no matter if you use the directional pad or the analog feels fantastic, and best yet it's always easy to aim.
But in the end this game just doesn't have a lot of replay. While the graphics triumph, and the story is captivating, it's not what it could be. But what it is is enough to recommend. A wild ride, no matter how limited the game is.