Drakengard 3 (PlayStation 3) Review

By Az Elias 27.05.2014

Review for Drakengard 3 on PlayStation 3

The Drakengard series was just about popular enough to warrant a spin-off in the form of the fan-favourite Nier, but another mainline entry has been a long time coming. At last, though, the creative director of both Nier and the first Drakengard title, Taro Yoko, has brought the action role-playing game Drakengard 3 to the PlayStation 3, as a prequel to the rest of the series.

Opening FMVs can really set the tone for the start of a new game, and hopes were certainly high after sitting back to watch the free-flowing Zero slice and dice her way through soldier after soldier, seemingly enjoying gracefully slaughtering them, their blood splashing over her white dress to cut a sexy and formidable figure. Then the gameplay cuts in, and it's all downhill from there.

It's a terrible shame, really, because Drakengard 3 had such good potential, but the low production values are immediately clear. Screen tearing is absolutely everywhere, constantly; texturing is of extremely poor standards; object pop-ins are noticeable at short distances; and, most importantly, the frame rate is bad, causing negative impacts on the fighting experience. Bearing in mind this is an action hack 'n' slash title that gives a Ninja Gaiden and Dynasty Warriors feel, slowdown and cut frames in fast-paced combat can be detrimental, and although it isn't unplayable at all, it is apparent.

Screenshot for Drakengard 3 on PlayStation 3

With four different types of weapons to utilise, including swords, spears, chakrams and metal fists, the fighting is quick and can be pretty fun when pulling off certain combinations of attacks, actively switching between weapons on the fly to put together a chain of strong moves. It doesn't quite have the range of moves and responsiveness that Ninja Gaiden games have, and hit detection isn't clear, but the lock-on, parrying and evading functions in place help keep the combat playable and provide just enough depth, although it can grow repetitive after a while.

Zero's dragon companion allows for another alternative gameplay style, where it can fly around and shoot fireballs depending on the stage, and it can be called to help her out in certain areas, but these sections can be the worst of the lot, bringing the action to a crawl. Controls are clunky, and the enclosed arenas that are sometimes used in boss battles can cause serious camera issues and general frustration all around in trying to accurately fight the enemy.

Screenshot for Drakengard 3 on PlayStation 3

Tackling short, linear stages, Zero, alongside her dragon partner, Mikhail, aims to find her five sisters and put them to the sword. These 'Intoners,' as they are known, are essentially the goddesses of the lands, and despite being one herself, Zero is hell bent on murdering her siblings. For a large part of the story, it is never explained why, and it takes some time before things begin to make a bit more sense. In fact, once the credits roll, it is obvious that something is amiss, and it's only afterwards that the game unlocks an alternative 'branch' in the timeline to play through. New branches open up as each one is completed, but, if truth be told, plot points still feel unresolved and confusing after everything is done with.

Prequel story DLC is due to come out for the other sisters, and there are novellas on the official game website that provide more background to the characters involved, but this is all material that should have been explored in the standard game, because Drakengard 3 feels so convoluted in its storytelling. It is also difficult to relate to Zero and understand her, and the lack of backstory and screen time for some of the sisters - particularly Four and Five - is saddening. It feels like DLC was always in the developer's mind to deliver this important information.

Screenshot for Drakengard 3 on PlayStation 3

Furthermore, it almost seems like Drakengard 3 doesn't want to be finished. To unlock the final branch, every single weapon in the game needs to be found, and this involves scouring for missed treasure chests and replaying missions to earn enough money to buy others. On top of that, the final boss of this branch is one of the most unusual and frustrating events in any game, taking what could safely be said for many people as hours of attempts to beat it. Some may find it different and odd enough to see the humorous side, but there is no doubt that such people would be in the minority. After the hours that have been spent playing through the game, forcing players to then spend more hours replaying it to get all the weapons, and then even more hours of going insane trying to beat the end boss, it seems absolutely ridiculous to make it such a chore and so difficult to see the proper ending.

It's tough to find more redeeming factors. Sexual innuendo is aplenty between Zero and her male disciples that join her through the story, and whilst the pervy remarks do go on from beginning to end and get old after some time, there are indeed a few laughs along the way. The connections, relations and feelings for Zero and the other characters simply aren't there, though, and it makes the story rather uninteresting as a result. The English voice cast and delivery is handled well, although the big tragedy is the dragon, Mikhail, whose own voice is just unbearable. That comes as very unfortunate when the brief appearance of the first dragon at the start of the game was so great. With the lip-syncing completely out, it would have been great to try the Japanese voice pack, but, alas, it is a £3.99 download - poor practice.

Screenshot for Drakengard 3 on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

It's clear that Drakengard 3 had a tight budget to work with, because the production values are so poor. The continuous screen tearing, shoddy graphics and slowdown really bring the gameplay experience right down, and the clunky dragon sections only further contribute to that. The combat is otherwise fun enough, and the characters can provide some laughs with their foul mouths and sexual remarks, although it can wear thin once the realisation this is pretty much all they have to say kicks in. Sadly, the actual story seems far too convoluted for its own good, never really making itself clear, and it becomes difficult to care about the people involved. The weapon hunting and almost impossible final boss is enough to ensure many will give up on even witnessing the ending. There are enough quirks to keep Drakengard 3 amusing, but it's definitely one that will only be better received by series fans.

Developer

Access

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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