Panzer Dragoon II Zwei
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|Panzer Dragoon II Zwei|
North American cover art
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei is a rail shooter released exclusively for the Sega Saturn in 1996. A prequel to the first Panzer Dragoon, it was developed by Team Andromeda, one of Sega's internal development studios. A PC version was planned for release on GameTap, but was never released.
Jean-Luc Lundi lives in a superstitious village where mutant coolias are killed. When Lundi discovers a mutant coolia, he decides to keep it and names it Lagi. Lagi has a strange green glow in his throat. After a few years the coolia begins to grow wings. Lundi takes the coolia out to try to get him to fly.
When Lundi takes Lagi out, a huge ship called Shelcoof, controlled by the AI network Sestren, destroys Lundi's village in an attempt to kill Lagi, who is possessed by the Heresy Program. Lagi's green glow grows brighter, and Lagi fires arrows of light from his mouth, the trademark attack of dragons from the ancient age. The lasers do not reach Shelcoof. Lundi begins to chase Shelcoof on Lagi's back.
As with other Panzer Dragoon games (apart from Panzer Dragoon Saga), Zwei is a rail shooter. As in the first game, enemies can be defeated with either the rider's gun or the dragon's lasers. There is also the berserk attack, which is a rain of lasers from the dragon which automatically attack all enemies on screen for several seconds, during which the dragon is invincible. To use the berserk attack, the player draws on the accumulated energy in the power meter, which is filled by killing enemies. A radar in the corner of the screen displays the location of nearby enemies.
Zwei is considerably more in depth than Panzer Dragoon, with alternate routes to be taken and a dragon that evolves based on the player's performance.
In response to player criticisms, Team Andromeda worked on making the game less difficult and more story-intensive than the first Panzer Dragoon. The team received no help from Sega's technical division on Panzer Dragoon II Zwei, and did not use any Sega-developed tools such as the Sega Graphics Library operating system; instead, Team Andromeda's programmers created all the development tools used to create the game.
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei received generally positive reviews. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly applauded the game for its multiple routes, differing dragon transformations, and "some of the best graphics ever seen on Sega's 32-bit powerhouse". However, they criticized that the game's low difficulty leaves it with little longevity. In GamePro, Scary Larry asserted that Panzer Dragoon II Zwei "blows away anything resembling a shooter on the PlayStation thus far, in both graphics and imagination." He criticized that the game is much too easy, though he noted that the ability to choose from multiple paths increases the replay value in addition to making the gameplay more interesting. He also complimented the way the music reflects what is going on in the game. A reviewer for Next Generation said that while the gameplay makes only minimal innovations to the restrictive on-rails format, the game keeps the player hooked though its gorgeous visuals and absorbing story. He summarized, "In a surprising victory for art and plot direction, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei proves that visual sophistication and compelling storylines can sometimes overcome less than revolutionary gameplay."
Rob Allsetter of Sega Saturn Magazine praised the impressive attention to detail in the graphics and the multiple routes. He concluded that it "belongs up there with VF2 and Sega Rally as the standard-bearer for its genre." Maximum's Daniel Jevons concurred with Scary Larry that the game "positively laughs in the face of any competing PlayStation 3D shooters." He pointed out that the much-maligned on-rails format is necessary to create the experience the game offers, noting as an example that it allowed the developers to synchronize the soundtrack with what is going on. He also praised the animation, 3D graphics, high frame rate, absence of pixelation even on the heavily detailed bosses, precise controls, lock-on attacks, and the ability to adjust the game's difficulty by choosing different routes.
IGN staff writer Levi Buchanan ranked Panzer Dragoon II Zwei fifth in his list of the top 10 Sega Saturn games, saying "The original Panzer Dragoon that flanked the Saturn at launch was nothing short of revelation. But this sequel improves on almost everything, offering better graphics, smoother animations, changing dragon forms, and branching routes."
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- "Off the Scale". Next Generation. No. 19. Imagine Media. July 1996. p. 81.
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- "ProReview: Panzer Dragoon Zwei II". GamePro. No. 93. IDG. June 1996. pp. 62–63.
- "The Best of '96". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 92. Ziff Davis. March 1997. p. 90.
- Buchanan, Levi (2008-07-29). "Top 10 SEGA Saturn Games". IGN. Retrieved 2013-04-03.