Note: This review was written by a moron that was too cheap to go online (that and the fact all the &*%$#*@ adapters were sold out) and play it. So he had to opt out and go for the less-than-perfect split screen option with his smelly, fat, and hairy, best friend.
Despite my first reaction to the title name sounding like a porn star simulator, Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II is a great game. Both my friend and I were quite taken from the get-go by the customizing options of the character creation process. It’s a shame the graphics and camera angles don't help this creativity. After my friend and I got our dream team together, we set out on the planet of Ragol.
Now, if you’re planning on playing this multiplayer (or single player for that matter), expect basically no storyline. This is just like Gauntlet, except it’s not as fast and furious; also the fact that there is more concentration on spells, equipment, stats, and items. So a stat-driven Gauntlet-esque game is out on the market?! I knew that this game was going to be a winner.
And it is! Don't get me wrong (since I’m about to list the bad stuff), it’s just that there are tons of bugs that they didn't work out before the re-release of this successful Dreamcast series. First of all, the pop-up should have been fixed, which just urks me to no end. This is GameCube people, not a Saturn. Also, a more organized portal system should have been arranged so you don’t have to go through each level just to get to home base (but there is also town portal items). That and the fact that if you’re playing offline with two or more players, you have to teleport all players back when one dies. There are many more bugs that come to mind, but still I couldn't help but love this game. I’m a sucker for co-op type games where you’re allowed to smack your best friend across the face for taking your +6 Saber. However, I must list the biggest complaint of all. The targeting. Sweet Lord in heaven save us all. Would it have been so hard to implement a lock-on feature and change to each desired enemy by tapping the analog or d-pad? I think not.
Setting the mood and feel of a game just can't be done with lush graphics. Most of the time, for me, the music has a huge role to play in the whole scheme of creating an atmosphere. Though Phantasy Star has some catchy tunes that seem to lace the environments with comforting complements, the sounds of the creatures leave you with more to desire. You won't be covering your ears, but you won't be impressed by any means. The sound is not imperative either, so crank up some Radiohead and have at those monsters. There's your mood for ya!
I haven't had the chance to hack my way through the whole game, but I have been told that the second episode has some killer graphics in the end. I wouldn't know. What I do know is that this GameCube game has horrible, nasty, terrible pop-up (and clipping for that matter)! But lets give credit where credit is due. The creators have stayed true to their formula and made the environments crisper and sharper.
The multiplayer is the meat and potatoes of this game, make no mistake. Unless you plan on playing this online with others, I recommend an empty couch. Other than that, this is a game where you invite your friends over for some quality time, hands down. Rip through it with countless amounts of weapons, armor and spells. Sure, the story is as simple as my syntax in fifth grade, but I didn't sign up for a story, I came for the action and multiplayer comradely that this game surely delivers.
I was not disappointed in the least with Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 & 2, despite my “tough love” review. The bugs did bog it down but in the end, it's a quality hack and slasher that is fantastic offline. I have only heard good things about the online aspect (both on 56k and broadband), which can only up the quality of the game a couple more notches. If you have friends (both online or offline) that are down with some hardcore RPG action that will keep your blood pumpin', then run out and buy this good-time title.