Phantasy Star Online


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

I think I can safely say that I’ve surpassed my previous personal “most addictive game of all time”. If you’ve been reading DP for awhile you may recall that a few years ago I was killing myself over hitting 80+ hours in Final Fantasy Tactics. Well I passed 80+ hours on Phantasy Star Online long ago, with my first character, who had 200+ hours. I’ve had three more characters since that time. I lost count, and it’s a good thing because my brain automatically tries to convert these hours into days, which are then converted into “days when I should have been doing something meaningful”, which is then converted into raw depression.

If you were to play this game offline you’d get bored in a hurry, I’d say 50 hours would be enough to finish it and have seen all of the levels and quests, and would have beaten the final stage boss. You would also have been disappointed with the story and the conclusion, both of which seem to be afterthoughts. Where this game becomes more of a game is in the online mode. This is clearly the focus of the game, and where not only a better time is had in battle (where you’re now working as a team of four), but relationships are made. That’s right, ME. Relationships. They don’t normally go hand in hand. But this game inspires it. You’ll meet people you like, people you hate, and people who will actually become friends, if you so desire. I’ve made a bunch of friends (who I shall name at the end of this column) online whom I’ve started to chat with via email or website message boards OUTSIDE of the game. Fortunately they all live far away and mostly in other countries, so I’ll never have to be disappointed by their real-life counterparts (just kidding folks).

The game consists of a paltry four levels: forest, cave, mine, and ruins. Each level is broken into 2 or 3 sub-levels, which you work through to get to the end level boss. There are about a dozen different types of monsters in each level, each with a variety of attack styles. There are usually several monsters in each room that you’ll need to destroy in order to move on. The battles are typically fast and furious, and lots of fun. I can say that even after the God-knows-how-many-hours I’ve been playing this game, I still get a rush from charging into an enemy-infested room and clearing house with my double saber. The end-level bosses are equally impressive, each taking up several screens. Nothing more impressive than knocking a 100 foot dragon out of the air, and running around from the tail to the head to give it a few whacks, have it rise up, run under its legs, and have it take flight again. I only wish there were more!

You have a variety of weapon types to use, from long distance rifles to up close short swords. Certain character types are restricted to using certain weapon types, but there’s a good selection for all. Better still, each weapon has a different animation, so you’ll twirl into the fray with a double-saber type weapon, but perform an elaborate series of animated strikes with a dagger. Some weapons even have special animations, like the Magical Piece, which leaves a wake of translucent hearts (!) behind on a strike, or the C-Bringer Rifle which fires a blast of fire instead of the more common photon bullets. Furthermore, every weapon in the game has variations where you can do things like “steal” health, create confusion, paralyze, or even instant kill an enemy on a hit, And weapons are upgradeable by “grinding” them, so that your basic saber can become a +40 saber with a little tender loving care.

And of course there are various types of armor and shielding with various ways to improve and combine them to make them more effective. In addition to these you also have a “Mag”, which is a cross between a Pokemon character and a personal assistant. Mags can help improve your stats just by keeping them with you, and the way you feed them alters the ways they can help you. It’s an interesting side-game to the basic hack-and-slash. I know people who are Mag specialists, they can farm Mags while they play and come up with just the right combinations to grow the Mag of your dreams.

And now, version 2 is available, which adds a new difficulty level, 10 new challenge modes, several head-to-head and team battle modes, lobby soccer, and a slew of new weapons and items. I don’t think I’ll be leaving the house again any time soon. If you see me online, remind me to cut the grass. Or eat.

Very nice people I have met in the game: if you see these folks online, say hello.


Buffy 3

Parva (aka Big Ben)

Nada (aka El Duderino)

Racoz (aka Diaz)



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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:30 PM