SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$44.99

DEVELOPER
Universal

PUBLISHER
Electronic Arts

RELEASE
10/99

Xena: Warrior Princess Review

By: John Doe


Lucy Lawless who? If you can identify with that statement you simply aren't watching enough television. Lucy plays Xena: Warrior Princess and that's what this game is based on. Now I know what you are thinking... This game is based on a television show that many watch only for the buxom attributes of the star. How good could the game be? Well, come on in and find out, little man.


Highs:
Lows:

I don't watch the show, but I know who Xena is. And I haven't been living under a rock to miss all of the accusations leveled at Xena and Gabrielle for being more than "just friends". But since that has nothing to do with the game, let's leave it up to speculation. Xena the game tries to be Tomb Raider-like and it succeeds mildly. Like Lara, Xena has a good collection of movements like jump flips, cartwheels, kicks and various combinations of special moves at her disposal, the bicycle kick move being my personal fave (if you can get it to work). Of course she also sports her trusty sword, which exacts vengeance with the same cold-blooded efficiency as any of Lara's firearms. She also has her Chakram, which is that frisbee-like, justice-seeking object that she can use against opponents or switches. So far so good. Now the bad news. The camera refuses to cooperate in most situations which often makes you (Xena) a sitting duck with a nice body so to speak. Furthermore, rotating the camera actually rotates Xena as well, making specific jumps more than a little frustrating. The real difference between Xena and Lara becomes apparent when faced with the repetitive shallow gameplay of Xena. This is more of a Final Fight beat-em-up in Tomb Raider clothing, with more cheap shots than a Don Rickles Roast.

When I played this game at E3 it was showing a lot of promise. I walked away fairly impressed and had hoped for the best for the final product. Now 6 months later I'm wondering how this game was released with this many problems. As Xena you'll go from place to place, kicking butt, saving hostages and trying to rescue your long time companion Gabrielle. Enemies often attack in small groups, which makes fancy fighting with thought-provoking moves that will take down your opponents in the best way, impossible. It will pretty much turn out to be button-mashing central, which is the defining moment where Xena leaves Tomb Raider country and heads straight for the Final Fight/Fighting Force school of repetitive gameplay. As mentioned, hostages have to be saved and you had better be quick about it. The only way you can take down these brutes is with your Chakram because if Xena gets too close, the hostage gets it. You control the Chakram in flight from a first person perspective and can move it up and down, which is decidedly cool. However, in a hostage situation you've got to have great aim, because there is no room for error. The Chakram can also double as a lookout scout if you are good enough, because when you throw it, it can traverse the environments flying around corners and up hills. You'll need to master your Chakram skills over all other modes of offense if you want to save Gabrielle and see the later levels. If you are a good shot, then consider yourself congratulated by me.

The game has it's fair share of missions, which involve finding a lot of keys to get through locked gates and some minor puzzles elements which mainly consist of using the Chakram to hit distant switches that will unlock a new area. A few other puzzles are thrown in to make the game interesting, but their solutions pretty much hit you over the head, thanks to the hints conveniently found in Xena's world. Once you rescue your gal pal Gabrielle, she will fight along side you, but care must be taken to protect her; she doesn't have as much health as Xena. The story moves along by cutscenes that are generated by the in-game engine. Although every once in a great while, you'll get a CG cutscene. Odd...

Graphically the game is decent but littered with polygon breakup. This is largely to do with the high maintenance camera that sometimes can't even move if there is a pole in front of it. The animation of Xena is smooth and her moves look very good. The aforementioned cutscenes don't really do Lucy justice, but they do move the story along and in this medium that's what counts. The voice talent is pretty decent, and although it's not the real people from the show you won't really care.

Complaint Dept. The glitchy control coupled with environments that will allow you to drop to your doom and spastic camera work, make this a frustrating little outing. You'll marvel at how long it will take you to do certain moves that have been video game staples since at least the early 1800's. Just doing something as common place in an action game as jumping on a box, almost made me quit reviewing games forever. The camera was really cheesed that I was asking it to line up Xena next to the box and in retaliation decided it would swing every which way but loose, almost as if a virtual orangutan was controlling it. I almost threw up. Blair Witch has nothing on this motion sickness. Then when Xena finally got up on that box, she would instantly jump off because of the touchy jump button. In case you are wondering, I did manage to perfect my jumping skills but at the expense of my eyesight, some hair and a large amount of patience. My next gripe concerns the constant bombardment of arrows that fly from unseen enemies during the later levels. They are relentless. Try fighting a few enemies while getting hit by fire that you can't put a stop to; it's impossible. My last bone of contention concerns the save game process. You can save your game at each new level, but the "continue" feature appears seconds before the "save game" feature which means you will instinctively hit the continue button, thus losing the chance to save that level. You had better hope you make it to the end of the next level and remember not to hit "continue" before "save game" again. Guess who did that at least 4 times? Come on, I'll give you three chances...

I'm a patient gamer (not including the times I've bitten my controller) but this game tried my patience to the end. It could have been so much more, but ultimately drops the ball when it could have went for a first down. I would even settle for the cheap shots and deaths by falling if the camera had been given mucho attention. If you are looking for a night's rental and would like to re-live the hit show at home, then go for it. As I said, Xena has some killer moves. This game can be fun but you really have to work hard to find it. And what fun is that? Proceed with caution and Tylenol.

OVERALL
6.0

GRAPHICS
7.0

CONTROL
5.0

MUSIC/FX
8.0

FRUSTRATION
8.0

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