| Animated Blood, Violence
| The Good
Awesome design and execution of graphics
Fast and frantic action
Tons of unlockables
No English Dub
| The Bad
Gamers who don't like rail shooters will want to
Orta is a young woman has been imprisoned for as long as
she can recall. During a siege on the city she's held prisoner
in, Orta is freed by a dragonmare. She rides the beast to
freedom and sees the world about her for the first time in
her life. During her trip, she discovers more about herself
and why she was imprisoned. The story of Panzer Dragoon
Orta is delivered through a number of FMV and in-game
cutscenes that really go a long way to fleshing out the story.
Along with that is an encyclopedia that explains a variety
of aspects about the world Orta finds.
Panzer Dragoon Orta is, without a doubt, a "rail
shooter", which means you'll be faced with wave upon
wave on enemies to shoot down. Those uninitiated in the genre
may think this sounds boring as dirt, but once you get into
Orta, you realize the game has a depth to it that will make
the journey well worth the time and effort. Your dragonmare
can morph into one of three forms, each of which have their
own strengths and weaknesses. The Base Wing is your standard
dragon that most players will break themselves into the game
with. The Heavy Wing is stronger, sturdier, but lacks the
ability to glide and doesn't have as many lock-ons that it
can perform. The Glide Wing is fast and evasive that can glide
better than the other two and is great for disposing missile
volleys. Switching between the three forms becomes essential
to surviving this game.
Using the X and B buttons, players can use the glide ability
to dash forward or slow down, which is good for dodging attacks
and necessary for making it through most levels. When enemies
are nearby, you can dash into them with the glide attack to
destroy them. A lot of the boss fights will force the player
to use the glide abilities to move around the immense bosses
to target weak spots. Once players have filled their berserk
gauge, they can unleash an attack in one of the three forms
which helps delivers a ton of damage. Also, during the game,
you'll be able to pick up orbs from defeated enemies that
allow each of your dragon forms to evolve, making them stronger
and more powerful.
Probably the most important feature of Orta is the ability
to turn the camera and fight enemies in full 360°. Players
can hit either the left or right triggers to turn the camera
90°, but can maneuver the camera more to their tastes
by using the left analog stick.
While the main game only has about ten stages, you'll find
a number of the levels have multiple paths. Replayability
is the strength of Panzer Dragoon Orta. Even though
by the game clock you may finish the game in a few hours,
you'll find yourself replaying many levels, first because
they provide such a good challenge, but then because you want
to improve your score as your skills increase.
After you're through with the main game, you have tons to
do in the Pandora's Box, which is a treasure trove of unlockables.
While some of the Pandora's Box is merely Flight Records and
info, you can also view unlocked movies and illustrations.
Also available are Sub Scenarios about other characters in
Orta's world, including Scenarios involving Iva, an Imperial
Youth flying a hovercraft, and Mobo, who flies related missions
to Orta's own. And, of course, then there's the original Panzer
Dragoon to unlock.
Graphically, Panzer Dragoon Orta is impressive. Detail
is poured into every aspect of the game. Visual effects range
from fog, cloud and rain effects, which create a lifelike
quality to the world, to a large range of laser and explosion
effects that accent the hectic combat well. Enemy and ally
models alike look well designed and animated to a "T".
Smilebit has gone a long way to make the world complete and
real in design and style. The levels are immensely detailed
and work well not just as a backdrop to the action, but as
an integral part of the action from time to time. Along with
this are highly polished FMV sequences and a series of high-quality
cutscenes done with the in-game engine.
Gamers who have a distaste for English dub will be pleased
with Smilebit's decision just to include English subtitles
along with the original voice acting. Sound effects and the
music are well done and help draw the player into the game.
One of the nicest things about the music is how it captures
both the mood and concept of the game so well. The music feels
like a part of the alien world you get to explore.
The only drawback that gamers may find in Panzer Dragoon
Orta is what the game is inherently - a hardcore rail
shooter. People who don't like the genre may be turned off
by the game, especially its challenge. While the game features
three difficulty levels, even on the Easy Level you'll be
given a solid challenge, which fortunately is never too frustrating,
but rewards players for using the game's techniques to their
If you've even given Panzer Dragoon Orta the smallest
consideration of interest, go out and get it. This is the
possibly the best game to grace the genre in years. With tons
of things to unlock, and considerable replayability, dedicated
gamers will enjoy this title for years to come.