First Impressions: Project Draco
Posted by James Newton
High and mighty
All the Christmas big-hitters were out in force at Xbox UK's recent Kinect preview event: Kinect Sports: Season Two, Dance Central 2 and Kinect Disneyland Adventures. One title tucked away toward the back is definitely one to watch for in 2012: Xbox Live Arcade title Project Draco.
Developed by Grounding Inc. under the direction of Panzer Dragoon legend Yukio Futatsugi, Project Draco is essentially a controller-free Panzer Dragoon game: from the visual and aural design to the gameplay itself, it practically belongs to SEGA's storied franchise in everything but name. As anyone who's played a previous shooter in the series — Panzer Dragoon Orta on the original Xbox the most recent release — will know this to be a very good thing indeed. We took to the skies for the very first level and came away extremely excited about this 2012 title.
Easing you in with a tutorial, the game introduces you to the shooting and dodging mechanisms. The former will be familiar to anyone who's played Child of Eden: your left hand shoots fireballs while your right is used for lock-on lasers, with a forceful push gesture used to fire after locking on. It's more of a punch than Eden's 'pop', but drawing back to push forward soon becomes second nature and thoroughly satisfying. You'll also build up power for a berserk-like attack, activated by — you guessed it — holding both your arms aloft.
So far, so Child of Eden, but unlike Q?'s motion masterpiece you can evade attacks by leaning side-to-side and back and forth, which certainly gives an extra element of immersion to the already intense action: dodging to avoid incoming fire while tagging two elephantine dragons is unlike anything you've seen on Kinect, and totally thrilling.
Only the first level was available in the preview so we weren't able to see the three-player co-operative play or the game's evolutionary aspect, though upon completing the stage we were awarded food items which we assume will play a big part in raising your steed.
Project Draco is the sort of game many Kinect gamers signed up for: gorgeous, classy and with a richness not often seen in XBLA downloads. With stunning graphics, intuitive controls and the promise of gameplay that improves with repeat play, this is definitely one for the top of your most wanted list in 2012.