Dragon's Blood

Armour-clad fighting

Tomb Raider in tights?

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The game is played in a standard third person perspective, with the camera following behind and above your chosen character as he or she romp through the expansive levels. Each new mission is introduced with a lengthy narrated background story with your tasks defined and a few clues thrown in for good measure. Most of the missions are pretty standard grab item, get key, chop up the baddies you meet on the way to bits fare, hardly brain surgery but interesting enough. This is a game that undoubtedly focuses more on the bloody slashing action than brain-bending adventure. More depth is added with the introduction of Blessing Wisps, which are rewarded for successfully completing a mission with additional bonus Wisps scattered in secret locations around the levels. Every five of these collected can be traded for an upgrade to your character by adding an ability or gaining some weapon or piece of armour. At the end of each level your given the choice of category to upgrade such as Rank, Offence, Defence and various different types of magic. Selecting offence will grant new weapons, defence will give new armour and the magic categories add to your arsenal of offensive and defensive spells. It's a far cry from a full on Role Playing Game, but it adds a compelling angle to the game, your driven to search for those extra Wisps that'll allow you to try out newer spells or wield a bigger chopper. Letting the player have a choice of which character to take through the game also gives the title a bit of variety. The beefy male character Cynric is strong with combat and can take quite a beating which favours an close up, full on approach to the game, while the foxy female Aeowyn is more magically gifted and strong but physically weaker so requires a careful and more considered approach. While this doesn't change the way you progress through the game, it does offer a choice based on your preferred approach, and players wanting maximum value could even have a go at completing the game with each character greatly adding to the potential longevity. By far the most enjoyable element of Dragons Blood is actually getting your hands wet with the blood of your evil enemies. Initially the combat looks like a simple hack and slash affair, it's actually quite involved with various different sword strokes available and a good selection of combo's to discover for each different kind of weapon. Marching right up to your foes and taking a swipe out of them will result in a damp red heap of hero, you have to approach combat carefully and make liberal use of the defence button and shoulder button strafing if your going to get a swipe in without taking damage. The enemy intelligence is also impressive, you find them circling and dodging, waiting for you to expose yourself before they take a lunge, making combat intense and engaging. Unfortunately a slew of graphical problems prevent Dragons Blood from being a fantasy action masterpiece. Textures break up, the frame often becomes choppier than a butchers block and glitchy collision detection results in your hero disappearing into walls or losing half his legs into the landscape. The environments are huge, and have some fantastic detail but the ambitious rolling hills in the outdoor areas look extremely angular and suffer from some fairly close up fogging. Also irritating is the weird save game system, which allows you to make marker saves at any point, but will only let you actually save a game to the memory card in-between levels. Some of the missions are huge, and take ages to finish making for some long sittings in between saves.

Conclusion

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If you can see past these technical details, and can stomach the heavy fantasy hack 'n slash theme you'll have a lot of fun with Dragons Blood. It's not particularly original, and borrows a lot from previous action titles like the Nightmare Creatures series on the PlayStation, but it is a lot of fun and with fifteen large levels it offers an awful lot of bloody barbarian brawn for your buck. Release Date - Out Now

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7 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net scoring policy Dragon's Blood Bloomers Armour-clad fighting 2000-08-10T18:16:00+01:00 7 10

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