|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Cole||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Eureka Seven Vol 1: The New Wave is bound to annoy everyone at some point. Expect giant mech lovers to stomp their massive feet right through the floorboards.
Hopefully by reading this review I can save you some frustration and most importantly, some money. All but the most dedicated of Eureka Seven fans will hope to get anything out of this meager offering. Its hard to even begin with the bad news since there are quite a few issues that are vying for top place. Ill begin with the gameplay. Theres not much of it. This entire game is more or less an interactive cartoon. There are tons of cutscenes that cant be skipped. Youll be doing more watching than playing. The story takes place before the events featured in the anime show. You wont be following the exploits of Renton Thurston. Youll only run into a couple of familiar characters but they are relegated to making cameo appearances. The graphics of the cutscenes vary from good to poor as many are rendered using the in-game engine. There are voiceovers but the game is not fully voiced. There is plenty of text to read but even the most ardent of fans will be forced into speed-reading mode since a lot of the onscreen text disappears before you can read it all. And you cant pause or replay it without reloading it.
If youre a fan of Eureka Seven, youre going to have to make some sacrifices for your love of the show. If you want to grasp everything this game is offering youve got some work ahead of you. At least you will know what to expect and what not to expect. I will be honest. I dont watch the show on a regular basis and I couldnt be bothered to reload the game to re-read the parts of the storyline that I missed. It seems to jump around all over the place, especially when it jumps to text and Im supposed to remember the names of all of the characters that I wasnt paying attention to in the first place. I might forget a name but Ill never forget a metal-etched face. Im sure that most of you, even fans, will find this story hard to follow since its introducing characters that youve never heard of previously. Only those interested in the pre-history of the series will want to go through the pains of finding out all this back history. Bragging rights in the schoolyard. I dont do recess Im old enough to be the principal.
Regardless of age, if youre an avid gamer chances are that you have a soft spot for giant fighting mechs. How badly can someone screw up a fighting mech videogame? Well the fighting aspect of the gameplay isnt bad, theres just not enough of it. And the fighting that we do get to take part in could stand a lot more depth. But by the time that one finally gets around to fighting, they will be so appreciative that they will take whatever theyre offered. Its only after youve stopped playing the game that you realize just how shallow it is.
The hero in this game is your stereotypical anime teenager that is torn between his duty and his raging hormones. Sumner Sturgeon falls in love with a girl who spins his head around so that he eschews his responsibilities at the New Wave Academy where he is trained in mech warfare. He becomes a great mech pilot and eventually joins the underground to impress this girl. Its all really cheesy stuff that I hope I never have to sit through again. If only there was a way to fast forward those damn cutscenes.
The mechs are huge, mobile tanks capable of great destruction. They are called LFOs and operate in robot and vehicle mode. In robot mode they can walk, jump and jet jump as well as shoot various upgradeable weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers. They can also take part in melee combat by throwing various punches around. Vehicle mode lets these LFOs operate more like traditional tanks. While they do have better speed they dont have great offensive capabilities and they are somewhat difficult to maneuver.
Most of the time youll want to play in robot mode. Its so much more versatile but its not without its problems. The AI is not very intelligent, at least from a ranged distance as they just stand around waiting to be hit. Other times they will be stuck behind obstacles. Amateur pilots. But when performing melee combat youll notice that they have great blocking skills. While you can lock-on to an enemy you may find that its not a wise decision during melee combat since you will usually be swarmed by other hostile AI that will be able to take pot shots at you while youre trying to destroy the targeted AI. Ranged combat is usually the best but only in robot mode.
Pilots can come out of their LFOs and engage in combat much like the robot. There is hand-to-hand melee combat and ranged combat in which youll use a variety of weapons including a sniper rifle, machine gun and missile launcher. As with the LFOs, these weapons can be upgraded to increase their destructive capabilities. The pilots also enjoy doing a little bit of lifting with their ref-boards. Its basically gravity-defying air surfing on a hoverboard. Youll navigate the kids around obstacles while they search out the coveted Trapar waves that give them an energy boost. The boards can pull off some stunts such as flips and turns but these moves are limited. As interesting as this feature sounds, the lack of a deep control system and the relative short time that you get to ride these boards, it never really gets off the ground. Pardon the pun.
The cutscenes take away a lot of the potential fun in this game. Exploration, interaction and other fun elements are all done via cutscenes, or worse yet, text. The only time you really get your hands dirty is during the battles. They take place in enclosed arenas, often surrounded by invisible walls that prevent you from exploring the environment any further. You do get to do some exploring but its mostly a linear frolic from one battle scene to the next.
The cutscenes that arent generated by the in-game graphics engine look good but a few things are consistent. Some of the animations are fluid while others are stiff and jerky. The colors are vibrant and the art style is actually an improvement on the anime. In-game you will encounter slowdown when there are several mechs onscreen and the overall quality of the graphics is poor. There is also lots of inopportune loadings which interrupt the flow of the game or the flow of the relentless cutscenes. The sound effects of the weapons are very good but the repetitive, Planetarium synth music wears thin after a short while.
Eureka Seven Vol 1: The New Wave is not terrible considering that this is its debut. Its got a long way to go, and I havent even ragged on the fact that there are no multi-player modes. I may not be so nice when it comes to Volume 2. Average. At best.
CCC Senior Writer