One thing unites the games in this top fifteen: they all have class. They might be flawed, they might not be universally agreed on as the greatest Sega games ever, but they are all undeniably wonderful games with tremendous class, and nowhere is this more evident than Panzer Dragoon Zwei.
The original Panzer Dragoon in 1995 introduced us to the series’ bizarre world, but Zwei (or PDZ) threw us deeper into its military struggles from the point of view of a young boy named Lundi and his Khouriat, Lagi. We soon discover that Lagi has the power to fire laser blasts, and so when Lundi’s village is attacked the two do their best to defend their settlement, and from then on a huge adventure is set into motion.
The action itself is very similar to the on-rails original, but different paths are available at certain points which bring replay value to the levels. As you progress through the game your dragon gains strength and changes shape depending on your score, evolving into the most powerful dragon only if you achieve 100% shot-down ratio on each level, a task to test even the most skilled players. The evolution system went onto influence Panzer Dragoon Saga and Panzer Dragoon Orta extremely heavily.
Panzer games are always an aesthetic treat, and PDZ was arguably one of the greatest-looking games of its time, at least until Panzer Dragoon Saga. The tremendous and coherent design shines through with incredible architecture and enemies, with several highlights including the enormous Alien-like creature in Episode 3 and the classic waterway chase in Episode 4. Each time it manages to make the scripted events seem surprising and spontaneous, and with the addition of Pandora’s Box makes each playthrough different.
All in all, Panzer Dragoon Zwei is a stunning achievement that stands up even now as a wonderful shoot ’em up that succeeds by making the Panzer world one of the most alive and amazing ever created, and sits perfectly as one of the dozen best Sega classics.