Phantasy Star Universe: A Genuine JRPG



By Kei Beneza (Dividelife), Onrpg writer

Phantasy Star Universe is a Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG) that made its debut on the Sega Dreamcast back in 2001. The game is originally played in single player mode but can also support multiplayer (MMO) mode through a monthly fee. Multiplayer mode is a lot different from the single player mode since you can pretty much create your own character and dwell in a particular part of the storyline. The game is quite futuristic, which is good because every other MMO is built on the medieval age. A few futuristic MMOs would definitely come in handy once in a while. Soon after the unforeseen demise of the Dreamcast console, Phantasy Star Universe made its way to various consoles and on to the PC. Blessing perhaps? let's see.

Deciding Characters

To my surprise, Phantasy Star Universe only had three playable classes namely: The Hunter, Ranger and Force. I was a bit disappointed since JRPGs would be the source of different types of characters. The game also has 4 races that was said to compliment your class further. Some races work better as specific classes, but you won't have to worry about that since you can change classes anytime in the game. Aside from the broad world and stunning features, Classes often bait gamers into playing a certain game. Some say that different weapons make characters do different things, or that trying out other races would change a certain class's gameplay. Yes, maybe so... but these things often hit people with a fixed stereotypical build. I mean why become a pushover human class if another race enhances this class more?

Japanese RPG feeling (JRPG)

One look at the character layout and you'll know it's a JRPG. The character designs are a bit sci-fi but there's something about it that makes you go ANIME. Some of the armors are tight and bulky at the same time, kind of like Bubblegum Crisis. I guess it's the aura of the game that makes it all J and stuff especially since male Japanese characters often perform moves with such elegance (Men will always be men in Western RPGs). The characters look like they're dressed for combat and not ARMORED for it. I guess the soldiers of the future have to look their best even it if means over-accessorizing.

The character detail looks okay, but it still looks pretty PS2-ish to me. The 360 and pc release looks entirely the same, but with better shadows and well rounded models. The graphics still can't be considered as next gen graphics. I'm just saying cause it got launched on a next gen console.

Phantasy Star Screenshot

As expected from a JRPG, the game has an invigorating soundtrack that lets you enjoy killing monsters. If I were to sum it up, the music gets you into a dance of death that causes you to slaughter everything in your path. Call it a form of mind control. The game does have a certain charm that makes it work despite the obvious lack of features.

Gameplay - Let's get it on!

The game runs on a hack n' slash system where players have to butcher their way to their destination. It's not that bad since grinding games often let players enjoy their skills rather than worry about where they would use them. The beauty of hack n' slash is that you can spam your skills knowing that you'll be well rewarded for it. It is a bit sickening at times, but it's all a matter of perception.

Plus! Visual Alert!

The character creation interface is really nice. There's a lot of options to fill in so you won't have to gripe about why your character has a lot of clones. The face is somewhat fully customizable and your character gets to wear your desired outfit. It just shows to prove that the game supports character individuality. The visuals are eye catching and are somehow similar to futuristic anime series like Bubblegum Crisis and Ghost in the shell. Seriously, Japanese really have a solid vision on what the future holds. If I must analyze the graphics, I would have to say that it's slightly better than the most up to date games. Just making myself clear, The graphics are really good but not next gen good.

Control scheme

I was pretty pissed after getting to play this game with my keyboard. It was the same blasted feeling I got when I installed Devil May Cry 4 on my PC. Here's a News Flash: You'll NEED a gamepad to play this game, let alone enjoy it. The game was originally made for consoles but they could've easily tweaked the controls to fit the PC gamers' playstyle. It is a bit depressing seeing as this game is the first MMO that actually requires you to own a gamepad.

Action!

The game is basically another dungeon crawler. A bit of a grinder really, but like I said: It all depends on the player. Bosses are superb both in single player mode and in multiplayer mode. You should really consider playing the single player mode before immersing yourself in its multiplayer goodness. The single player mode has a decent story line that will probably cater 15-20 hours of gameplay. I've yet to regret playing the whole thing since the single player mode can already give you your money's worth. Epic sounds, Epic storyline.

The verdict

The game is good for a console MMO, but the features doesn't fully compliment itself for competing with other Pay to Pay games. Nine dollars isn't so pricey, but other free to play MMOs can beat this game through features alone. I wouldn't say that this game is not worth playing but you could go around before considering the multiplayer option. Single player mode is awesome but the MMO feature needs a bit of work. The soundtrack is pretty epic. It sort of acts like a mind control device that takes you deeper into the game. The characters look pretty amazing but despite the character customization system, you'll still end up seeing people who's dressed the same way. It is a good game, but I would probably sell it after finishing the single player mode.

Pros:
-
Single Player mode. At least we get a storyline
- Character customization features
- Soundtrack is really nice

Cons:
- Controller is needed. Not required... but needed
- Grinding is not that bad... but the system is nothing new
- It is as it is... everything is quite linear.

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