The first thing you'll notice after you start playing D:CotW is that you feel a little seasick. The game camera seems designed to induce vomiting in even the most iron of stomachs. I picture a back room in Treyarch (the game's developer) where they have testers strapped into chairs like the one Malcolm McDowell had to endure in A Clockwork Orange. When vomit spewed, the game camera was approved. I refuse to believe that any human being would willingly release a product with such a blatantly evil piece of technology as this camera. Seriously, Satan himself couldn't have come up with something better at upsetting the stomachs of the Earth's populace. Once again, we see a developer daring us to play their game (see also my review of I-Spy).
Add to the crappy camera a crappy animation system and you've got all the makings of one ugly game. See that up above where I mention that this game was made for screenshots? It's true. The animation is so bad that it looks as if your character is floating as often as he or she is walking. Jumps are a joke. Do a couple of jumps in a row and your bad ass warrior is skipping merrily along.
And while I have praised the textures and the general environment, I must bring that praise down a notch due to an incredibly thick wall of fog, pop-up galore, and no visual representation of surfaces you cannot scale. The slightest change in terrain grade will send you sliding back down. Yet walking a few steps to the right or left will allow easy ascension.
My litmus test of gameplay is to see if I can figure it out sans rulebook. If you're going to do something weird and out there, or otherwise hard to learn, how's about teaching it to me in-game? Your instruction manual doesn't exist to 90% of the population. People who rent your game to see if they want to buy it will most times be deprived of the manual by the local Blockbuster who threw it away rather than try to keep track of it. People like me assume you hired designers capable of ramping the game and introducing new concepts to players as they go, rather than simply dropping it all in their laps at once. In Draconus, there is also no ramping of skill. None. You're launched into the game and expected to have read the instruction manual cover to cover (and preferably memorized it). No in-game hints. No pointers. No helpful little troll who reminds you that special moves cause combos. Nothing at all that implies anyone ever thought that somebody might buy their game and not know how to play it.
The voice acting is everything you've come to fear. After George Freak'n Takei leaves the scene, you're stuck with a bunch of bad Yoda impersonators and one guy that sounds suspiciously like The Kids in the Hall's Bruce McCulloch doing his little kid voice. The woman who provides Aeowyn's voice is the only bright spot (aside from Geroge Freak'n Takei).
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I've long known that the Dreamcast analog stick was a joke. D:CotW, however, provides the punch line to said joke. This game requires you to be able to easily command your sword swings to go to the left, to the right, up and down. However, the analog stick feels so mushy (both by default and by sloppy programming) that you get the direction you are headed for as often as you get nothing at all. This isn't that big of a deal, however, since there's never a good fight outside of the boss monsters. Your average bad guy has the AI of a grapefruit (my apologies to any grapefruits reading this). Their basic plan is to walk directly towards the point where they first noticed you. This allows you to run past every enemy in the game. In fact, after you play through a level a couple of times, you'll learn that you can bypass all the monsters except those you need to kill because they are holding keys or other "quest items".
Which leads us to two different and distinct points. One: there are no real quests. You just get sent from point A to point B a lot with no real rhyme or reason. Two: you will replay these levels a LOT. Even with the mid-level save feature, you'll find yourself starting over from scratch because you didn't save enough health potions for the final fight.
And what a final fight you'll have. As cool and amazing as the sword fighting can get with the boss monsters, you'll never know how close to victory you are. You are informed of how much damage your last blow inflicted when a number appears over the head of your enemy. This number is useless, however. You did 230 points of damage to that goblin. Great! How much damage is left to go? No telling. While the developers seemed to think it useful to inform you of how badass your attacks are, they didn't feel the need to tell you how many more of those attacks are going to be needed.