(sharon) #1

constructed so that you have to
continually manipulate your dragon’s
powers in order to come out ahead
of skirmishes. Sure, you can barrel
through the earlier levels by staying in
one form and locking onto everything
that drifts into your reticule, but you
won’t end up with a very balanced set
of dragons and you’ll struggle to take
down the later bosses.
And some of the bosses
you’re required to topple truly are
spectacular. The series has always
had a reputation for its distinctive,
bizarre-looking bosses, but they’re
amplified to magnificent levels of
weirdness in Orta. Things kick off with
a somewhat traditional gigantic flying
airship, but then you’ll find yourself
desperately weaving your way around
a gargantuan monstrosity with a
flower as a power source, a robot
cyclops that will happily drop to all
fours to gallop around you to put your
aim off balance, and a manta-like
winged beast that concludes with a
sobering Shadow Of The Colossus-
styled revelation. And then of course
there’s Abadd, a renegade imperial
drone who commands his own
dragon, one which is many times more
powerful than your own. Fights are
challenging, particularly on the higher
difficulty levels, and they prove to be
just as exhilarating as anything found
in the earlier games of the series. It’s
worth noting, however, that Orta is not
an easy game, with even the normal
difficulty setting requiring a high skill
level from the player.

TOP You’ll often
be in situations
where attacks
come from behind
you. Stay sharp!
ABOVE Orta has
multiple routes
through many of
its stages,
increases its
replay value.

It also helps that Panzer Dragoon
Orta looks sensational, more so if
you’re playing it on an Xbox One X. Orta
was always one of the original Xbox’s
best-looking titles and the power of
the Xbox One X amplifies those art
design choices massively. It makes a
strong argument to why backwards
compatibility is so important in today’s
market, and its stylish look should
sway those who show little interest in
old games.
Panzer Dragoon Orta is something
of an unusual game to look back on

because it didn’t really break new
ground or significantly evolve the
franchise. In fact, it could be argued
that it killed it, because SEGA has
never attempted to make another
game in the series since, something
we remain extremely bitter about. And
yet its unwavering community of fans
prove that a game doesn’t have to
be a commercial success in order to
achieve rabid appreciation. There’s a
reason why Panzer Dragoon Orta was
made backwards compatible for the
Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and it is the
same reason why there will be a third
Shenmue game – fans care about the
worlds that the developers of these
series have created, and they want to
see them live on.
There are few games today that can
match the sheer ethereal beauty and
gorgeous soundscape of the Panzer
Dragoon games, the outlandish design
of their many bosses or enemies and
the desolately lonely landscapes that
you fly through. Coupled with suitably
powerful stories (Orta revolves around
the use of clones and the importance
of free will), the Panzer Dragoon
series has always stood proudly
apart from other similar shooters and
Orta represents the zenith of what
Smilebit was able to achieve with that
structure. Sure, you can make the
argument that it’s a simplistic arcade
blaster at its heart, and to an extent
you’d be right, but you’d also be doing
Smilebit’s game a huge disservice.
Dig it out today and you’ll discover the
magic it has to offer. Q

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