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Old 12-17-2010, 02:20 AM   #19
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 952
Phantasy Star Online Episodes 1&2
Gamecube version (also available on Xbox)

10 years ago you say the phrase 'Multiplayer' to a console gamer and you would have garnered thoughts of Mario Kart, Goldeneye... Basically the N64. When the Dreamcast came with it 56k (33k in Europe) modem the stage was set for online gaming to boom. As usual, Sega was the early innovator to what xbox live perfected. For me, PSO is the game World Of Warcraft perfected!

You could create your own character, Head online with up to 3 more people and take on 4 massive levels whilst collecting meseta (cash), weapons, techniques and a range of armours and health. The first Forest level would take you hours initially because every rappy took 10 shots to kill. The culmination of the level being the immense dragon boss which the first time you take him on is a daunting log epic battle! Give it time, upgrading your character and purchasing and finding new armoury as well as feeding your mag (a floating thing over your shoulder that you can give items and it powers up to unleash a photon blast) is super addictive and you will replay the 4 levels a lot of times eventually culminating in the ability to kill this dragon in 1 shot. It’s ridiculously satisfying! On top of this each level has a series of side quests that you can take on if you want something different or your character is not quite ready for the next level. Despite what it may seem like on the surface there is a lot of game here. The controls are basic. There is a button for a weak accurate attack and another or a strong but less accurate attack and if you time it you can string together combos. These vary from rapid fire with a gun or a sword combo with a sword, shield is automatic based on your equipped armour and mag and the other items can be assigned to other buttons how you wish. I went with heal and a technique but it is totally customisable. The only slightly annoying thing is the fact that when your photon blast is full it overrides your customisations when you pull the R-Trigger which means fast access to items is denied. It seems minor as your photon blast may charge once or twice per level but it annoyed me. The plus side is the menu system is quick and easy to navigate and so intuitive you can do it in battle still running around and often resume the battle unharmed.

So what does the GC version add. Well it adds a whole we Episode 2 for a start, a much harder new set of levels that you cannot even touch unless you have invested many hours on episode 1 unless you have a death wish! As well as a 4 player local coop which is extremely fun. The beauty of PSO is that anyone could jump in at any time. I remember on many occasions having a friend jump into a game with a level 1 character. I would assist him, lend him weapons, heal him with techniques and revive them when they died! The whole game is so beautifully thought out.

MMOs today have grown up a lot based on PSOs roots. Games now offer a lot more than this great package. Graphically it was great for it's time an is more than acceptable in today's world and let's face it the legitimate servers are not even online anymore but even then I loved playing this game offline or with friends. Almost everything you could do offline is also online. So if you somehow missed this game I recommend picking it up!

Pros - Superb replay value. Lots of fun to play with Friends. Great accessible menu system.
Cons - MMOs now offer more. Combat system feels a little dated.

Overall - 92%
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