After playing this game I was in a near state of shock, and I had to wonder, given how amazing the Panzer Dragoon series translated into an role-playing game, what other game franchises would benefit? Mario RPG is another example of an outstanding RPG franchise, but even still Panzer Dragoon Saga stands tall above all competition, and I came to the conclusion that no game franchise could have been translated this well.
I had played all the Panzer Dragoon games first, which was fortunate when it came to understanding the story, but I cannot tell you how much you might enjoy it if you already weren't a Panzer Dragooner.
The plot starts off fairly straight forward, you're in a post-apocalyptic world, similar to that found in Mad Max in many ways. Dragons and their subsequent riders once ruled this world, and lo and behold, when the empire that you serve turns against you, do you find one of the fabled dragons. In fact, it's the very dragon from the other Panzer Dragoon games.
The game's predecessors were both rail-shooters, and at times Panzer Dragoon Saga becomes one too, but only when your attention is required elsewhere.
The game play is great, and works thusly - you have a dragon, and can fly around doing whatever you want inside the levels, going in any direction you wish. But when battles come it goes more a rail-shooter, with you orbiting your enemy. A radar gives you an idea of safe areas around the enemy, and where they're likely to hit next, allowing you to try to avoid their attacks, or get safe to hit them.
This is where my favourite new element of the game comes in -- your dragon can now morph. He has many different types of dragon, such as a speed type, attack type, magic, and defence. Each dragon type looks different too, with different colours. The speed dragon is long and thin with blue colours, and the defence dragon is short, and though looking. As you level up your dragon he will continue to change and look different. But here's the best part of it; you do not just pick a dragon type -- you mix them together. You have a circular chart of sorts, and move a cursor around to where you want it. Like having it mostly be in the attack quadrant, but also very close to speed dragon as well. You can literally watch your dragon morph as you move the cursor around.
Changing your dragon type affects the game quite dramatically. I, for one, don't enjoy standard RPG battles, and so by making an attack/speed dragon I was able to move around quickly in battles and charge up my next move faster, making the battles go more like an action/adventure game. But if you prefer more even turn-based game types, you can make a defence, or defence/magic dragon. It gives a very open-ended feeling to the game play type.
The rider also gets to attack as well, so you can equip different guns and what have you, as well as use healing items and the like.
The story is great, just amazing. It involves a girl from the time of the dragons named Azel, who has a dragon similar to your own, whom you end up facing off against, and inevitably falling in love with. There's conspiracy, a civil war, it's just great, but I can't say anymore for fear of ruining any unlikely opportunity you may get to play this game.
There are your standard villages for you to explore on foot (in 3D, of course). You can even talk to people, make friends, and go back to old areas to pick up things you couldn't get before. You set up camp, and all sorts of fun stuff.
This is indisputably one of best games ever made. The ending alone is worth the time it takes to play though. Even if you don't have a Saturn, if the opportunity arises, purchase this game and find a Saturn later.