Phantasy Star Universe Xbox 360
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Released on 24/11/2006
In Online Mode, players are given the opportunity to create their own characters from a range of races, as they explore all three planets in the Gurhal system. Fans can travel with their friends as a squad of six adventurers, enter urban sprawls teeming with hundreds of other players, and build their avatars into powerful warriors.
- Epic Story: Phantasy Star Universe offers a suspenseful single player adventure that fans have been clamoring for.
- Phantasy Star Brand Heritage: Since 1988, the franchise has evolved, and produced seven series to date – building itself as one of the most well established RPG franchises.
- Real-time battles where players choose their own strategies: Choose from over 200 weapon variations in over 20 weapon categories for melee, technique, or ranged-type combat. Players can also select numerous Photon Arts to defeat enemies.
- World Class Score: Soundtrack produced by premier orchestras and vocals from Poland, Hollywood, and New York.
- Online Gameplay: Offering the Best of Both Worlds
- Multiplayer: Create a squad of up to six players to explore the universe and conquer quests.
- Endless gameplay: In addition to over 40 hours of offline gameplay, gamers can spend endless hours online customising characters, searching for rare items, leveling up, and joining friends for exhilarating new quests.
- Variety in transportation: Player-controlled vehicles offer a new type of gameplay for the Phantasy Star franchise.
- Character Customisation: Go beyond standard customisation for your character with precise measurements, an endless colour palette, and outlandish outfits.
- Massive enemies: Over 70 unique enemy species, totaling over 220 enemy variations.
Mark remembers the ‘good old days'...
What an odd week this has been. Leading up to the release of Phantasy Star Universe, I have to admit I'd been reliving some of my fondest college memories through rose tinted gaming goggles; remembering all those times I'd stayed up, pad-in-hand, keyboard perched on lap, coffee going cold on the cabinet, defeating Phantasy Star Online's final boss Dark Falz for the thousandth time at 5am.
What I'd glossed over, I've recently realised, were the negatives that came with it. Not clunky combat, keyboard-only team speak or chronic dialup connections; they were par-for-the-course back then, at a time when Sega were leading the way in online console gaming. No, it's more the way PSO unceremoniously ate my life wholesale for six entire months. It wasn't healthy; as my parents duly pointed out upon receiving their first £120 quarterly phone bill, thanks in large to Sega's then 1p-a-minute Dreamcast ISP.
But lo-and-behold, that's exactly what's been happening since Phantasy Star's brand of Star Wars inspired Guild Wars-esque RPG'ing arrived back in my life – though (thankfully) without the nagging relatives. Time to crack out the Pro Plus and pass the Pringles, this one will keep you up all night...
What's important to remember with the whole PSO/PSU thing, is how easy it is to get caught up in the enormous wave of nostalgia which surrounds the series. PSO on Dreamcast helped mainstream the online RPG, which makes PSU all the harder to review, because the genre has come along leaps and bounds since then, with Warcraft especially opening it up to new and varied demographics.
By contrast to WoW, PSU is small-minded. Likewise, the monthly £6.99 subscription makes comparisons to the free-to-play Guild Wars unfavourable too. And to call PSU an MMO, with only six players in a team, would be a bit rich.
Bigger, badder, harder monsters make you master PSU's noticeably speedier to-and-fro.
But, like its predecessor, there's something uncannily endearing about Phantasy Star Universe. Taken at face value its derivative: Combat initially shallow; visuals well within current hardware capabilities; the lobby and party system confusing – it feels like a five year-old title refusing to grow up. But when you look past the WoWs of the world, you realise this is trying to do something different.
PSU, you see, is all about combat. Not slow, cumbersome, point and click combat, but fast-action real-time fighting with a well-balanced team against hordes of monsters, leading to an impressively enormous end-of-area boss. Seemingly shallow on the surface, the sheer pace of play soon reveals hidden depths; bigger, badder, harder monsters making you master PSU's noticeably speedier to-and-fro, as well as improving your character's abilities and stats as you level up.
Ah yes, levelling; the central conceit behind any online RPG. PSU's grind starts out on the Linear Line Platform; a bland Space Station setting full of monotone blacks and greys – a disappointing introduction against the vibrant greens and blues of PSO's first Forest area. Yet with subsequent play, the Gurhal System's trio of worlds come into focus and reveal the series' true style to be very much intact.
Parum, with its central future-styled city, lush meadows and dragon boss, is a straightforward throwback to PSO, while the far-east theme of Neudaiz and Moatoob's desert surface are instantly iconic. Later areas evoke the oppressive feel of PSO version 2, while the promise of new content and fresh challenges with monthly updates should be enough to sate the fact that half the disc's content – Challenge missions, extra areas, Specialist character classes, and a level cap twice that of the current 50 – are locked from the get-go. Just.
PSU is more than hack-and-slash, however. The game's true hook lies in its combination of personalisation, customisation, and realisation. Everyone has a room they can decorate; a little robot pal (called a Partner Machinery) they can level up, a character they can be proud of; and everyone can create their own specialised items.
The latter is Synthesis, which is your best bet of getting those sought-after rares. Like the lobby system, it's far simpler than it first seems; basically involving a spot of recipe-based cooking. If you want to make a Saber, for instance, you'll first buy or find a Saber Board – then seeing it needs different measures of four different ingredients, set out to find those too, before slotting it all into your partner machinery. With rarer items requiring harder-to-find boards and ingredients, and some weapons offering player chosen properties (ice, fire, etc) it's a drawn-out process with a very specific personal touch to it.
A widely accessible, straightforward title with a serious amount beneath the surface to absorb for hours on end.
If that doesn't appeal, you can always go searching in the shops. This is one degree of depth on from PSO, with player's themselves able to open a store in Ebay fashion. Astute shopkeepers tend to price wares competitively, so there are plenty of bargains to be had, adding PSU yet another degree of depth with players scouring the servers, haggling over cost, and searching for the best possible deal, making it all very rewarding, and addictive with it.
And as an online game, PSU really is just that. Taken on the sum of its parts it does very little new, but it's uniquely unputdownable quality lies in its cyclical nature. Memorable environments drive levelling; so you need better weapons; fuelling the search for synthesis ingredients; which gets you scouring shops; which grants you bargains; which help you play in harder areas; with larger and lusher environments to explore – and you experience it with team-mates all cooing at the coolness of each other's digital avatars.
If the singleplayer story mode – roughly 15 hours long, so no token gesture by any means – has one lasting effect, it's to create a fantastically absorbing fiction for all this online adventuring to rest on. PSO's plot was wafer thin, but here the fight against the invading alien SEED fashions a tale which resonates with familiarity when you later revisit story areas online.
It's difficult to look at PSU as a standalone singleplayer outing, however, because the online hack-and-slash has basically been mapped around the cutscene-led story. The characters, dialogue and overall narrative values aren't the strongest in adventure terms, though the direction is admittedly very well done, and the overall episode-based presentation is cartoon-style stuff, so it's really ideal for the younger gamer.
In the end then, Phantasy Star Universe is a widely accessible, straightforward title with a serious amount beneath the surface to absorb for hours on end. It's not the industry power player PSO was, but If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself not minding. There's really very little else like PSU apart from its forebear, making it easy to recommend – especially to console gamers, who aren't exactly spoilt for choice in the Online RPG field. Looks like it's time to take off those goggles and get the coffee on. You didn't need sleep anyway, right?
- Immensely addictive online mode
- Fast-paced fighting action with suprising item-creation infused depth
- Well-presented singelplayer campaign with nice direction
- Nowhere near as vast and deep as WoW
- A bit dated visually
- Goodbye social life, it was nice knowing you...
Review by: Mark Scott
Version Tested: Xbox 360
Review Published: 30.11.06
We have a new home. It's called Starship Eeeeeaaarrrtthh…
After Shinobido and Syphon Filter, Phantasy Star Universe is the third overdue update of a long-forgotten franchise we've played in as many weeks - and we have to say, as good as the other two were, this has been by far the most welcome.
Phantasy Star Online was something special. Turn back the clock five years, to a time pre-dating world of Warcraft, and imagine WoW’s essence, distilled online on the Dreamcast dialup, long before Xbox Live made online gaming acceptable. Despite later GameCube and Xbox versions, it’s the Dreamcast days PSO veterans look to fondest; slaying dragons, making friends and staying up into the wee small hours riding the online revolution. Comrades, every one.
Five years in the making, Sonic Team opened the testing doors to its latest online opus last Friday, and were all-but overloaded by the demand. Failed logins, impromptu disconnection and confusion at the unhelpful tutorial were all commonplace. Not the best start. And yet, that familiar PSO magic still shines through. Phantasy Star Universe is PSO’s first fully-fledged successor, enhancing the template in every way.
Best described as a sci-fi version of Guild Wars, PSO was special because of the way it brought gamers together for the first time. They’d meet in a lobby, buddy up in teams of four and adventure onto Planet Ragol’s multi-level dungeons for some hack-and-slash action; finding new, rare items, battling terrible bosses and generally augmenting their characters. Unheard of at the time, and boasting then-standard setting visuals and wonderful aural qualities, the game just felt right.
Comfortingly, Phantasy Star Universe enhances PSO in every way. Parties now hold two more players, taking the total to six; the new setting, the Gurhal System, feels like a living, breathing world, and areas retain a very familiar Phantasy Star authenticity - as too does gameplay. It's still hack-and-slash at its core with a collect-a-thon sideline; but this time it's prettier, funkier, faster, more intense, more accessible, more social, more addictive and just plain more fun.
The fully-fledged follow-up to one of the most revered online games of all time.
There's also an impressive level of depth for those with the head for it. Character classes cover several different classes and races, all customisable for appearance, and each specialised in different weapon forms. Specialist classes will also be present in the final game, and high-level players will even be able to change classes, though at considerable monetary cost.
A lot of which will be familiar to old-school PSO players. Now, however, the differences between classes are far more pronounced, with Forces in particular far more valuable, as only they can use healing spells; an alteration which sums up the personalisation aspect Sega are putting into PSU.
Epic singleplayer and online modes
PSU also takes the Mag from PSO on a stage further, with your little robotic pal still following you around and fed to level up, but now able to synthesize different items for you depending on what you find out in the field, and even help you set up a shop in your own personalised PSU room, which other players can visit to buy things from.
Thankfully, PSU’s online mode will be tempered by a full story-driven offline singleplayer option.Telling a truly interplanetary tale, gamers will take on the role of Ethan Waber, a 17 year-old Guardians Cadet destined to take a starring role in the fight against an invading alien force known as The Seed, through an epic adventure lasting more than 40 hours.
It is, however, the online mode that's likely to keep players coming back again and again. And why not – it’s the fully-fledged follow up to one of the most revered online games of all time. Indeed, for PSO veterans, there’ll be no place more exciting or more familiar.
In short; welcome home.
Preview by: Mark Scott
Version Tested: Xbox 360 (Open Online Beta)
Preview Published: 18.10.06
Phantasy Star Universe Review (30/11/2006)
Mark remembers the ‘good old days'...
What an odd week this has been. Leading up to the release of Phantasy Star Universe, I have to admit I'd been reliv…Phantasy Star Universe Preview (18/10/2006)
We have a new home. It's called Starship Eeeeeaaarrrtthh…
After Shinobido and Syphon Filter, Phantasy Star Universe is th…Phantasy Star Universe User ReviewsTop review4 years agoPhantasy Star UniverseI thought the same as most people when buying this game... "is it going to be as good as PSO?"but when I got home, fired up the disc, and was met by the HD graphics, the sci-fi esque soundtrack, I found myself soon forgetting about Planet Ragol, and opening up to Neudaiz, Moatoob and the other planets that make up PSU.The gameplay itself isn't as sticky as the first one, and by that I mean you don't have to time your strikes to chain them, you can just bash away at the attack button until your foe collapses and you stand triumphant with your oversized glowing green energy sword.And that's just it, you revel these moments, so you strive to kill bigger, meaner things and further improve your character. And that's what RPGs are all about. Sucking away your social life and causing sleep deprovation. oh, and also scoring yourself a shiny new legendary weapon you have been lusting over.In my opinion, forget about it's predecessor and allow a new experience to take over yo4 years agoPhantasy Star UniverseOkays, so i have given a rating of 4/5 stars for this game...Reasons? Well what can i say...The story was amazing, the graphics were fair for an old game, the gameplay is very long should keep you going (Took me just over 50hrs to complete [took under a week]), the sound effects were good and online was pretty awesome aswell. The only let downs were; The fact you needed to subscribe to get online, it got boring after a few hours of playing, it's to addicting, needed to change abit in the game so its not just running around killing things (basically make it abit more interesting although the storyline did that job) It's worth around £20 so you should get it if it's £20 or less :)5 years agoPhantasy Star Universethis game is kind of weird at the start but then it starts to get a little interesting. after that you start to play it more. its a good game especally online.3 years agoPhantasy Star Universebad graphics even worse gameplay the only thing its good is nothing well apart from high scoring gamer points this is the worst buy yet but its only my oppinion3 years agoPhantasy Star Universebad game. single player is bad multiplayer is even worse they even make you pay for itConfiguring your price alert
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