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Old 09-14-2003, 12:13 AM   #1
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P.N.03 Review

P.N.03 Review from IGN

You're going to want to love this game. But you won't.

Capcom's futuristic action-shooter P.N.03 (Product Number 03) seems to have all the makings of a videogame winner. It's stylish. It stars a sexy-cool heroine mercenary. And it's filled with destructible robots, big guns and lots of battles. It's a game that -- deserved or not -- you want to like. We did. You will. It's that simple. Except, it's not. For try as you may, you won't be able to ignore that design flaws and sloppy execution that knits this package together. Main character Vanessa Schneider may look good in her various killing outfits. Perhaps even good enough to temporarily satisfy if you value style over substance. But she won't hold your eyes or your attention for very long once you start your struggle with the unresponsive control setup and the repetitive gameplay mechanics P.N.03 has to offer.

The Facts

- Play as sexy heroine Vanessa Schneider -- a mercenary with a dark, mysterious past
- Battle robots, machines, mega weapons and transforming enemies
- Stylish moves and attacks - dodging, rolling and choreographed gameplay
- Learn powerful combos and power-ups
- 11 Futuristic Sci-fi environments
- Requires five memory blocks for saves
- Runs in progressive scan mode
- Supports Dolby Pro Logic II
- Single-player



Gameplay

P.N.03 is proof that it's all in the execution. Under the right direction and perhaps given more development time, this could have been one hell of a fun third-person action-shooter. A software house like Treasure, for instance, might have done it justice. But for one reason or another Capcom has instead created a title with a play style that requires twitch-fast movement and reaction and a control setup that delivers just the opposite. This game, simply, is at war with itself.

You play as Vanessa Schneider, a beautiful mercenary for hire with a mysterious past. She's called in to take care of an off-world colony overrun by a Computer Arms Management System (or CAMS) gone completely haywire. Shooting ensues. More shooting. Dodging. Shooting. Shooting. Some more shooting. And a little more shooting on top of all of that. Plus, there's shooting.

For better or worse, there's really not a whole lot more to P.N.03. Vanessa runs through the various environments, which are usually void of any interactive elements whatsoever and repetitive as humanly acceptable, and engages herself in battles with small groups of mostly stationary robotic enemies. You can destroy foes with her palm shot (A button), which fires quickly and feels very responsive, or you can blast them with the character's special Energy Drive moves (a baffling combination of the D-Pad and A button), a more powerful set of moves.

Capcom has unfortunately made some exceedingly poor control choices for Vanessa's movement. The setup functions. It sometimes even satisfies, but rarely. Vanessa's supposed to be quick and agile, but she's not. Her body is supposed to move through the environment like a dancer's, but it doesn't. Rather, the heroine has a control scheme not unlike that of today's first-person shooters, except less responsive. The analog stick sluggishly progresses her forward and spins her slowly backward and she can turn very, very stupidly to the left and to the right. The R and L buttons make the character strafe left or right -- a useful feature when dodging enemy fire. Meanwhile, B button jumps, Y ducks (and she can roll clumsily forward or backward), X switches the current locked on target and Z spins her 180 degrees.

Problems arise. The awkward control scheme and snail-like response time do not at all mingle with the fast-paced battles. Enemy bullets sometimes collide with Vanessa before you'll even have a chance to dodge them. The camera gets in the way. She can't turn quickly enough to adequately survey potentially dangerous terrain. She is the epitome of unintuitive in just about every way. For reasons unfathomable, Capcom has designed the game so that the heroine can only shoot when she is at a full stop -- she can't fire a single blast when she's in motion, so you'll have to halt every time you want to take down an enemy, thus leaving yourself open to fire. The question comes, why? We don't know. But it's lame.

Repeat. Repeat. And repeat again. The game becomes a spinning record of the same battle, the same formula to win out in that battle, and exploring what must be identical room and hallway after identical room and hallway.

Yet. (Yes, we wrote it and we'll do it again.) Yet, P.N.03 isn't a total waste. In fact, some -- hungry shooter fans in particular -- may find the control scheme to be far less bothersome than we do, and it's this audience that could enjoy the game on some levels. All of our complaints noted, we still trekked on as Vanessa Schneider and blasted enemy after enemy away, opened door after door, and upgraded the sexy heroine's various suits to gain new abilities. The repetition was a killer. The control scheme seriously flawed. But the end experience not a disaster -- merely a disappointment. All said and done, its drawbacks in mind, P.N.03 lands itself solidly in average country. This truth is bound to disappoint some certifiably crazy P.N.03 fanatics, but we believe the majority of sane people will agree.




Graphics
Whether it's your thing or not, P.N.03 has style. We respect the design of main heroine Vanessa just as much as we enjoy her various outfits. Likewise for the ferocious robots that inhabit the environments in the game. There are a variety of animations; the title features a smart particle system, real-time lighting, big explosions, reflections, transparencies, and everything else you'd expect to see in a current-generation Capcom effort. It all runs in progressive scan at 30 frames per second. But there are some serious issues to consider as well: there's so much graphic repetition that it's difficult to keep playing. The rooms for each mission look identical to one another -- a steady selection of completely static locales complete with invisible walling. The animation is seriously lacking. Vanessa moves almost robotically (how fitting) and lacks fluidity; environments have a jaggy look to them very common in first-generation PlayStation 2 software; while textures are generally crisp, there is quite a lot of seaming, which is extremely disappointing, and the framerate occasionally suffers.
A mixed bag. Yes, there's style. But the technology is not quite up to par.


Sound
Love it or hate it. The game runs in Dolby Pro Logic II for a full surround sound experience. Musically, we've got a lot of techno tunes. We like the samples in place. They're catchy and varied. Problem is, they loop and loop and loop during the same mission until you feel as if you're head is going to explode in protest of the repetition. The quality, on the other hand, is clean enough. Not much in the way of voice samples. Sound effects get the job done, but really don't bring anything special to the table.
Closing Comments
P.N.03 is a 3D action-shooter with a certain degree of style, sure. But it has no depth whatsoever. Worse, its control scheme, clunky and sluggish, perpetually clashes with the would-be fast-moving battles the game serves up continuously. There is a lot of repetition on both a gameplay level and visual and audio levels, which is sure to discourage anybody looking for variety in their shooter. All of this combines for an experience that is under-whelming, yes, and disappointing, no doubt, but not a total loss. There is still some satisfaction to be found and shooter fans are the most likely to stay the drawbacks and seek it out.

This title could have been so much better. But Capcom's incomprehensible design choices and P.N.03's many, many flaws ruin any chance of that.

Don't buy it. Instead, give it a rent and see if you can brave its downsides in search of the good.

-- Matt Casamassina



Ratings: Description:
out of 10 click here for ratings guide

6.0 Presentation
Has style, slck menus and options, but everything is sub-standard.

6.0 Graphics
Vanessa looks good. Lots of animation. Textures repeat. Rooms repeat. Texture seams. Framerate dips. Sometimes-poor animations. Jaggies. Progressive scan support.

6.0 Sound
Good music. It just repeats so often you grow to hate it. Sound effects get the job done. DPLII support.

4.0 Gameplay
The game requires you to be quick and agile, but the design and horrible control scheme don't allow it. Frustration ensues.

3.0 Lasting Appeal
You'll be lucky to stick with the game as it serves you up the same looking room and enemy 20 times over.

5.3 OVERALL:
(out of 10 / not an average)

6.8 READER SCORE: (based on average user scores)
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:10 AM   #2
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