Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern
|a game by||Ubi Studios UK|
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A 3D adventure/RPG set in Anne McCaffrey's popular work) of Pern and featuring big, BIG dragons.
What's The Big Deal?
Ubi Studios UK has been keeping its Pern baby in perpetual development for the past three years, and reports suggest we can expect a graphically impressive interlace, with engaging gameplay and just the right amount of Celtic harp music to get you searching for your Best of Clannad.
D'kor is a young dragonrider who's not looking for trouble, so by the laws of fantasy he's destined for a life of excitement, constant adventure and extreme pain. How fortunate for him that he also inhabits Anne McCaffrey's dragon drenched world of Pem, about to be brought to your small screens this autumn in Ubi Soft's UK's 3D adventure/RPG title Dragonriders: Chronicles Of Pem.
There have been rumblings about a Pern-based fantasy game for almost as long as there's been a Pem. However, realistically it's taken this long for technology to become powerful enough to portray McCaffrey's 'low on technology, big on dragons' world, with the richness it deserves.
The story takes place around the Seventh Passing of the Red Star, about 1,400 years after the first landing. For those not familiar with Pern's history, the Red Star is the cause of the mysterious and deadly Thread, which periodically rains down and destroys all life. Think acid rain with a serious attitude problem. Dragons and their dragonriders have been found to be the only way to combat Threadfall, by destroying the Thread before it hits the ground. With me so far?
Dragonriders develop an unbreakable bond with their dragons from birth, they are telepathically linked, and one cannot exist without the other - a bit like Richard and Judy. You play DTcor, a rugged on the outside but squidgy on the inside dragonrider, who along with his dragon Zenth, becomes entangled in a plot to discover the origins of a mysterious disease that is killing off dragonriders.
Although more adventure than RPG, Dragonriders has a very King's Quest: Mask Of Eternity feel and contains a number of typical RPG elements, such as numerous puzzles, side quests and 200 plus NPCs. There's also the use of a stats-like system for strength, reputation and knowledge, which individually increase as D'kor performs various tasks.
Ubi seems to have tried to involve fans in many aspects of the game's creation, using Internet forums as a way to tap into Pern's international fan base for feedback and inspiration. Fans were even offered the opportunity to be immortalised by having their faces scanned and mapped onto individual characters. Obvious care has been taken not to trounce all over the licence by breaking the specific rule of McCaffrey's world: no paper, no birds and very little fire etc, which is lucky because it's so difficult for the average Pern fan to get a horse's head these days.
But the dragon animation is by far the most intriguing and visually spectacular pan of the game, and one area in particular that Anne McCaffrey was keen to get involved with. Your personal dragon Zenth is not only a cool form of transport over the game's 75 locations, spanning five continents, but also offers D'kor advice throughout the game, lists objectives and points him in the right direction. Every dragon has its own skinning code, so their muscles and flesh move as they move, and at more than 20 metres long, in scale, they're easily the biggest single creature animation brought to life in a computer game.
Dragonriders is looking pretty impressive so far and successfully taps into our imaginations, so hopefully, riding that dragon will be as much fun as it sounds.