Phantasy Star Universe
Phantasy Star is an RPG series of Sega, in Japanese manga style. In the story you play as Ethan Waber. In the Ghural solar system humanity lives on various planets and is threatened by a extraterrestrial species, the Seeds. As a raw recruit of the Gauardians, a kind of mercenaries whose goal is to defend humanity, Ethan battles with his new friends against all sorts of monsters. This single player is quite long, with 12 chapters in total.
The whole idea of Phantasy Star Universe reminds strongly of a manga series. Each chapter is played as an episode and you can take that literally. In the beginning of each episode there is an intro and a song, and in the end there’s a credits song (but without credits) and there’s even a taste of the upcoming chapter. It’s the same thing over and over again, so it certainly is quite annoying. Luckily this all can be skipped by simply pressing a key.
Once through the introduction levels, Ethan has his own room, where you’ll start each chapter. In this room Ethan gets his assignments and he can find Pete there too. Pete is a floating little robot whose job it is to assist Ethan. For instance, it can store items when Ethan has no more room in his own inventory, it gives extra information before and after assignments and many more. The game can also be saved in the room and there is even some place for a few decoration items.
These items can be bought in stores which can be found on each planet. You pay with mesetas, the local coin which you earn by completing missions. Next to decorations also weapons, healing items, armor and so on can be bought. The higher your level, the bigger the offer. If certain objects are useable or not, depends on your level, class and the available place in the quick menu.
When you have prepared yourself it is time to go to one of the other planets to begin your current assignment. Next to missions that continue the story, free missions are available too. These missions are linked to the ones you have already completed (similar world, objectives and monsters) and serve to earn some more mesetas.
The story missions are completed with the help of some additional characters, who aren’t very useful, but constantly hide behind you, so that you as Ethan receive the beatings. The classic problem of a better A.I. for your enemies than for your friends. During the missions you also have to complete so-called ‘trails’, this are certain challenges against time. After finishing these, you are awarded with a score which determines the amount of mesetas you earn.
After finishing the story you can go to the extra modus, which allows you to live new adventures with your friends from the story and a character you created yourself. Apart from that there’s also multiplayer, in which you can form parties with up to six friends. Both in extra and multiplayer you create your own character by choosing from different options per body part. There are also three different races: humans, newmans and casts. Newmans look like elves, while casts are robots.
The images reflects the manga style. Furthermore there are some strange effects, like disappearing people (these are the ‘extras’ in the different worlds, in other words characters that you can’t talk to) and characters who consist of only one colour (usually light blue, it seems like a problem with the loading of skins). Luckily the sound is all right. The music is good and the voices are fine too.
Phantasy Star Universe isn’t bad, but there are much better RPGs available.