Phantasy Star Online ( 2000)
|Details (Sega Dreamcast)||Supported platforms||Artwork and Media|
Country of Release:
Sega Dreamcast Controller
USA, Europe, Japan
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(Anonymous) (Unknown) 1st Jun 2012 04:19
"An expedition in-game and a new step for consoles."
Before I begin this review, I would like to say that I have played this game quite extensively. 224 hours to be exact and now on version 2 with my level 149 character. (Lynaly!!)
So why do I point this out? Simple. That mass of time has revealed to me just about everything I could possibly ever learn about the game, barring it's upcoming incarnations on Gamecube (which I'll buy) and Xbox (Nah.)
The game is deceptively ambitious. It is the first massively multiplayer online RPG on a console, and although it exceeds on many accounts, most importantly fun, it falls just a bit short on others like the size of the world and the storyline. Those are the only two things that knock the game from what I would have awarded a 10 to, so that goes a long way in saying that everything else does an extremely good job in holding the game up under a nitpicky eye.
The game, as far as I have decided, isn't very much linked to any previous game in the Ps series, though I have my reasons to believe that Pioneer 1 may have been one of the ships that escaped around the end of Phantasy Star 3. (but that's speculation since PS3 was a great departure from the others in the series and offered little connection)
The main premise of the game is that a space colony has been built on a newly discovered planet, Ragol. The first expedition is fine, as they have set up a colony and have begun expeditions on the planet. However, when attempting to communicate with Pioneer 1, a mysterious, unexplained force attacks and all further communications are prevented.
In an attempt to find out what is wrong, hunters are sent down to the planet to investigate. One of these is a famous hunter known as Red Ring Rico who also happens to be the duaghter of the man who hires you. She disappears, furthering the worry of the people onboard.
That is pretty much the opener for the game. After this is detailed in a slightly less divulging matter. (Some of what I told you is gathered info from actually playing) You are taking to the next step, to create a unique character. Since no two characters are really the same, your hero/heroine will never speak a word unless you type something on the keyboard. Then you are hired by the Principal and are ordered to go down to Ragol to investigate. This is where the storyline takes a split. The main storyline involves you exploring each of the 4 areas. The way the storyline is divulged are recordings that Rico left behind while she was exploring, and whatever the Principal and citizens of Pioneer 1 say to you after certain parts of the game are cleared. After you reach the end, you will face the final enemy and will get just a little tidbit that explains just where Rico went.
Now for the other half of things. Like Diablo, there are many different mini-quests that you can partake in, and they each have their own little story to be caught up in. Some are interesting, others are not, and some are just monotonous and you'll wish you never took the job. clearing these events will net you meseta (currency) and maybe special items, in fact, some very secret items are found by meeting different requirements during certain quests. To put it in a better perspective, this aspect of the game is a lot like Legend of Mana. The jobs are optional, of course, but provide a bit of diversion if the main game (which consists mainly of leveling up to kill main bosses) gets a little tiring.
And finally, there is the story you make yourself, online. When you converse with other people, make good friends whom you meet to play online, join groups who meet at certain times and the like. That is probably the most entertaining aspect and you'll surely enjoy it more than the one-player experience.
I own a lot of DC games, have played a lot of them, and have seen many interesting effects and visual trickery. In my OPINION, Phantasy Star Online is the best looking DC game there is. It's individual worlds are vibrant with colors and moving objects. There is a slight bit of slowdown (ever so slight) when there are tons of monsters and characters on screen, but there is almost no end to visual splendor of this wonderful game. I'd have to say that the only area that is a bit lacking is the caves as they tend to be rather boring at times. The forest is beautiful, and the mine is alive with moving lights, ambient technology, and randomly passing droids and information screens. Your character looks as good as you make them and the boss monsters are great in design and execution. The drawback might be on the monsters you fight. Although they look good, many of them are simple variations of a creature you fought in an early area. Sharks are just the cave version of Boombas and so forth. Still, the game shows that the DC could put forth some quality visual material.
The sound in PSO is of the same high quality as the graphics. The music is ambient in nature, but picks up tempo in the heat of battle, much more gracefully than Zelda: OoT which had an annoying little tune that it played when monsters got close. In PSO, the music reflects the tension of the scene, the struggle to defeat or evade your adversaries, and then it cools down when the dust has settled and you are back to exploring the depths and recesses of Ragol. The sound effects are adequate. They don't bring anything new to the table, but they are hardly subpar. They represent the onscreen action faithfully and nary will you hear something you would think to not fit with what was going on. The only letdown is the vocals. Like Luna's song in Lunar, the vocals in PSO are just the single word of ''La'' used in different tones.
This is what splits people into the ''I love PSO'' group or the other group that detests it for being boring and repetitive. Both groups have valid claims which makes this an even trickier subject to comment on. To sum it up, PSO really only consists of the same things that other online RPG's do. Emphasis on leveling up your character, buying better equipment, and advancing further to kill stronger monsters. This point hits much harder in single player mode since you alone are playing this game and doing these things over and over again to advance. In online, it's less a problem since you are playing with other people and that makes it more fun to co-operate. In fact, 4 low level people who work well enough together, can finish the game on the easiest and maybe even normal settings. In the single player mode, however, this isn't the case and you must spend due time gaining levels or you will not succeed.
Equipments and statistic growth is directly associated with the type of character you make. Depending on your choice, you may only be able to use certain weapons, cast certain spells, and equip certain forms of armor and protection.
As far as this goes, it's deeper on the equipment end of the pool than it is on the magic. There are only 13 spells (referred to as techniques) with varying levels depending on when and where you acquire the item that teaches it to you. On the other hand, there are tons of different types of weapons, weapon combinations, armors, and items. You also can raise your MAG ( a little flying droid that floats over your shoulder) in it's abilities and these increments will directly affect your character in many ways. They will also gain the ability to summon creatures into battle after they have taken enough damage, provided the MAG has reached the proper level and obtained the summon. However, it is to be noted that after a while, the summons are useless when your character starts getting ahold of super-powerful weapons and armor.
The game can be hard and that is the primary reason you gain levels and spend time working your character up. After beating the game you will unlock harder difficulty modes, usually resulting in more monsters that attack you, that also require many more hits before they die. In version2, you will pave the way to new areas to explore after you clear the harder tiers. Online, the challenge is more fun as you are working with others to succeed. Just make sure you don't steal their items or take all the experience opportunity's from your party members.
Online, it's pretty high. There just isn't any end to the fun you'll have playing this game with others. Offline it's a little bit of a different story. Some people may be satisfied when they beat just one of the difficulty levels while others will be more inclined to move to the next one and try to conquer it. (Yes, your character retains all they have accumulated) It's really just a matter of taste. If you like the game a lot, you're more than likely to play it again and enjoy it, if not, you'll probably be done with it after the first run.
Rent or Buy:
I have never really seen this game for rent. The main reason why is because it must use the unique serial number of your Dreamcast to connect online. However, if you could rent it, there just isn't any way you would be able to fully experience it. If you plan to buy it, I recommend start with the original version. Online play is free and it's cheaper than version 2. Then if you find you enjoy the game enough, go ahead and get version 2, which has more extras, but costs a monthly fee of 10 dollars to play online. That would be the best route to go since only true fans or players of the game would willingly pay a fee to play it online.
In conclusion, Phantasy Star Online is a great, great game. While it does not further the story of the original series, it maintains the same mythos that fans would expect out of another Phantasy Star game. It's not Phantasy Star V, but it's a good enough to stand on it's own as a spinoff from the main series. This game comes highly recommended from myself.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10, Originally Posted: 04/12/02, Updated 04/12/02
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This title was first added on 7th December 2006
This title was most recently updated on 1st June 2012