PS2 REVIEW:GAUNTLET: SEVEN SORROWS

On the graphics front Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows isn't going to blow you out of the water, but it manages to throw enough visual glitz your way with the various magic spells and other lighting effects. The Monster-Generator 3000's live up to their name, spitting out copy cat monstrosities which don't exactly push the envelope in terms of imagination or creativity, but what do you care, since you'll be dispensing with them in no time flat. However every once in awhile a new monster will rear its ugly head that manages to impress - and I'm not just referring to the boss battles. The games camera does an admirable job focusing on the action at hand, but every so often you'll find yourself battling in a confined space which makes enemies and other evil nasties hard to get a visual on. It's not a dealbreaker and is pretty much par for the course with dungeon crawlers, so chances are high that you've experienced this before and dealt with it accordingly.

As mentioned playing with three friends is a great way to spend a few hours, especially if you play on the hardest levels. If you can't find three buds to play with in person, for the first time in the history of the series you can take Seven Sorrows online. The hard part might be finding three other players online at the same time as you, but it can be done. You can always have the gang over for a 4 player fest on one TV which is the preferred method of Gauntleting. Gauntlet is a social game so it should be played as such. Taking the game online is actually quite smooth over XBL, but I can't say that I had any experience with the PS2 version online.

Faithful fans of the original might be relieved (or disappointed) to discover that you can no longer freak out on the moron who shoots the food (health) accidentally, as this particular mechanic has been axed from Seven Sorrows. Personally we always enjoyed punching the doofus in the side of the head who shot the food when some of us so desparately needed it but maybe that's just me and my friends....from 20 years ago. God, where has the time gone? I used to have hair dammit! Oops. Just ignore that part of the review kids, as one day you'll suffer from hair loss and I don't want to depress you too much. But yeah, chances are that hair covering your forehead today will be a distant memory in 10-15 years. Maybe even less. Sucks doesn't it? Let me tell you something....when I was your age I used to have nightmares about losing my hair. In the dreams, I would be looking at myself in a mirror and freaking out because I had lost so much of my precious hair! Now check this out....My "hair reality" is so bad now, that I would literally KILL to have the amount of hair I had during those nightmares. Pleasant dreams kids!

Seven Sorrows won't win any awards for depth or creativity, but it is a worthwhile hack and slasher that will most likely please fans of the original. Length and difficulty are issues though and you'll really have to decide if this is a renter or a purchase. If your parents have run the Gauntlet back in the day, nothing would be better than firing this up and having at it with them by your side. Unfortunately one missed opportunity is a playable version of the original Gauntlet which would have given many people extra incentive to purchase Seven Sorrows. Maybe next time.

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
Gauntlet Seven Sorrows (PS2)
3.8
Graphics
I found Seven Sorrows visually impressive in terms of environments, but a little repetitive and bland in character design.
4.4
Control
Good camera and easy pick up and play controls, great for all levels of player.
3.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Definitely lacking in the sound department.
3.9
Online
Finding people to play with could be your biggest challenge, but otherwise the experience is lag free (XBL)
3.0
Play Value
Linear, short and shallow describes the experience, but I'd be remiss if "4 player fun" wasn't also included in that list.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
2
Preview By Logan50
Some of my most cherished gaming memories were of the classic Gauntlets, both 1 and 2, and joining my older brother in slaughtering as many monsters and collecting as much treasure as possible before inevitably succumbing to our undeniable mortality. Yep, good old family values…

Well, GOOD NEWS!! After a long hiatus during which we have all been craving a return to true carnage-style gaming, we can finally slake our collective thirst on the long-awaited return of the Gauntlet series. OK, yes, we’ve already seen a return to the series, but Legends and Dark Legacy were too family-friendly for my needs, so I’m not counting those right now. Midway has recently released a first look at Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, slated to be released in October for PS2 and XBOX (nothing official in regards to PC), and this time, they’re making it Mature!

Finally, a Gauntlet game where we don’t have imagine the blood splatter of our enemies painting the walls and the sound of our foes begging for mercy silenced by a dagger to the throat. Oh, how I’ve longed for the day when I would be permitted to pick my teeth with the bones of my victims and paint their epitaphs upon the walls in their own blood… Alright, maybe the game isn’t quite that graphic, but I can dream, can’t I? Anyways, this time around, the tone of the game is much darker than the last two, and definitely geared towards an adult audience. Well, not “Adult” adult, but you know what I mean.

Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows begins with the crucifixion of the wizard, the warrior, and the archer upon a tree whose roots reach to the very core of the planet. I’m not sure if this fact is a plot point or just a cool little tidbit, but who cares, right? It’s cool either way. And it is always a good sign when the game starts as the heroes die. The valkyrie, apparently, is torn between two oaths. She’s supposed to protect the warrior, but she’s also not permitted to free them. After all, they are assassins… Did I forget to mention that? Oh… Well, this time around, the heroes aren’t just vigilantes out to save the world for the good of humanity; they’re hired thugs being paid to take down the Emperor. They fail. They get crucified. End of story… for about two centuries. That’s when they get brought back to life (don’t ask, just play along) to finish their mission. Of course, it can’t be that easy, right? Of
course not. So let’s throw into the mix the fact that the Emperor can no longer be killed by any conventional means because he’s been converted mostly to energy. The only way to take him down is by correcting the seven major mistakes he’s made in his reign of power (don’t ask, just play along). And just a side note, he doesn’t even have any real power anymore; he’s just a figurehead that hasn’t made any real decisions in over one hundred years…

Man, this is getting really confusing. Good thing there’s plenty of things to kill along the way, and two extra modes of play that don’t really concern themselves with plot. Beyond story mode, Seven Sorrows will include advanced mode and online mode, both of which completely drop all pretence of narrative, steering more towards carnage on a grand scale with three of your friends along for the ride. Or three strangers, if that’s your thing.

On to the characters! As usual, we get The Warrior and The Wizard, The Archer and The Valkyrie. No surprise there. Moving on, we are introduced to two new characters: The Lancer and The Tragedian. As for the combat system, not much is known yet about The Lancer’s style of fighting, but we do know that one of the attacks basically has the guy flinging a bunch of enemies into the air and juggling them to death. The Tragedian, whose dreadful saga has left her beaten, broken, maimed and violated, never shows her face except to the enemy, stunning them into inaction long enough to gain the upper hand in a battle. The four core characters maintain the same basic strategies and tactics they’ve used since the beginning, and they also have their own class skills again, though, naturally, much more visually spectacular. The wizard is able to create fissures that generate crystal spires (don’t ask, just play
along), which you can steer towards your enemies using the left analog stick. Or for those who like a challenge, you can split the fissure in two and control the new fissure with the right analog stick. The Valkyrie’s new addition to her arsenal of attacks is a technique called Flock, in which she reenacts a scene from The Birds. Several enemies will suddenly discover there’s a symbol over their heads, and every time you press the corresponding button, a bird comes and tries to aerate his skull. And let’s not forget The Warrior, who is fond of cleaving his foes in twain, resulting in a bloodbath that temporarily blinds any opponents that happen to be standing to the rear of the newly-made cadaver. Did I mention this game is rated M? Just checking.

Of course, these skills only require one player to use them properly, but there are junction skills that can only be effectively utilized with the assistance of another player. Using the same basic idea behind the combat system in Final Fantasy: The Crystal Chronicles, but simplified for convenience and coordination, players can work together to unleash devastation of biblical proportions. The power is only restrained by how many seals you can activate in a given time (don’t ask, just play along), the combination of which determines such things as how long the attack lasts and how large the affected area is. Of course, since the area of affect is determined by where the seals are located, and each character can only activate two seals, you need a second character to activate at least a third seal, unless you want the attack to occur in a straight line. Imagine, if you will, one player activates his junction attack, and all four players activate two seals, then the second player does the same, then the third, all done in such rapid succession that the effects are simultaneous, calling forth a devastating hailstorm to crush anyone still trapped between the walls of flame incinerating all those that come in contact with it, while all those fortunate enough to escape the fire and ice to be drained of all their essence as they cross the lines of a vampiric grid… God I hope they make that into a movie…

One of my favorite things about this game is the animation quality. The previous games have all been pretty good, but you could tell the animators weren’t really trying for anything grand. In the originals, there really wasn’t that much animation technology to speak of and the last two titles have been intentionally cartoonish. This time, they’ve gotten serious, and the combat animations alone prove that. The characters look much more realistic, the AMVs actually look like they were taken seriously, and even the quality of the conceptual art compared to Legends shows an entirely new attitude towards the series and emphasizes the more mature direction Midway wants to take the series in. Even the camera angles are much more user-friendly, reacting to the scenery and the player to help you get the best view of what is happening and where the enemy is. I’m not really that clear on the different terminology for camera angles, isometric, 3/4, panoramic, whatever, but trust me, it’s a big improvement.

Considering its fall release and the coming of XBOX 2 this winter, I think that Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows is the perfect farewell to the current generation of consoles…

So, what the heck is a Tragedian?

Preview By Vaughn

Midway Games Inc., a leading interactive entertainment industry publisher and developer, announced today the rebirth of the legendary Gauntlet franchise with Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. Lead by industry veterans John Romero (Doom, Quake) and Josh Sawyer (Icewind Dale), developed by Midway's San Diego studio, Seven Sorrows is scheduled for release on the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox videogame system from Microsoft and PC this winter.

"Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows captures the nostalgia of the legendary franchise, and also delivers the darkest, most intense Gauntlet saga ever," said Matt Booty, senior vice president of product development, Midway. "Blending an intuitive combat system, accessible RPG elements, and new junction skills, Seven Sorrows features the dynamic co-op it's known for, and, for the first time ever, it is online supporting up to four players."

Centuries ago, four immortal heroes set out to kill the most powerful emperor their age had ever known. They failed, and for their crimes, three were crucified on a great tree at the bottom of the world. Mysteriously set free, the heroes set out to finish what they had started, only to find that they must now save their tormentor from his own dreams and madness. Driven to grief by seven acts of deep cruelty and selfishness, the emperor seeks to undo the one that pains him the most: the murder of his lover, Cusirimay. If the ancient heroes cannot undo the emperor's deeds on their own, his mad plans may tear apart the world.

Seven Sorrows is the fusion of fantasy fighting action with the strategy of user-friendly RPG elements, providing gamers a deep, engaging gameplay experience complete with solo play, co-op and an online community.

The new fighting system allows for easy pick-up-and-play while simultaneously offering deeper choices for more advanced players. Additionally, online RPG and collection elements add significant replay value to the game.

Press:

The legendary arcade classic Gauntlet is reborn with a new vision, story and gameplay in Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. Seeking to undo the past, a powerful emperor is lost in his own dreams and nightmares. After being imprisoned by him for two centuries, four immortal heroes set out to undo their tormentor’s lifetime of regrets. In the process, they must deal with the consequences of their own actions and watch as the world shakes apart around them. Seven Sorrows is the fusion of fantasy fighting action with the strategy and fascination of user friendly RPG elements, challenging gamers in solo play, co-op and a thriving online community.

Features:

  • Addictive Co-op Play. The franchise that started the cooperative play craze is revitalized, and back with two through four player co-op play.
  • Deep, Robust Combat Style. The intuitive hack-and-slash fighting system is reinvented to be more dynamic and more destructive offering deeper choices for advanced players.
  • User-Friendly RPG Elements. Gamers have the ability to strategically level-up heroes with weapons, equipment and magic through the use of Weapon, Class and Iconic Skills.
  • Compelling Online Community. Taking cooperative gameplay to the online arena, featuring a system of trade and barter, a sense of camaraderie and community will come to life for the Gauntlet universe. The online RPG and collection elements provide gamers with exceptional replay value.
  • Epic and Majestic Story. Set within a word of turmoil, players have the ability to select from six tragic heroes, each with their own fantastic back-story, to embark on the journey of fulfilling their destiny in this dark, powerful saga.
  • Junction Skills. Featuring avant-garde “Junction Skills,” players can band together to use their skills and abilities to unleash a number of devastating attacks upon their unsuspecting enemies.
  • Amazing Graphics. A cutting edge rendering process brings the gorgeous character models, breath taking environments and animations to life.

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best