Dreamcast
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Key Facts:

Publisher/Developer: SEGA/Sonic Team ESRB Rating: Teen for Animated Violence, Animated Blood Number of Players: 1 Available For: SEGA Dreamcast

Story

Faced with the imminent destruction of their home world, a large-scale evacuation plan known as the Pioneer Project was established to find a new home planet. Unmanned probes sent into deep space discovered a habitable planet they dubbed Ragol and the first interstellar transport ship Pioneer 1 was sent to establish a colony. After confirming Ragol was suitable, the initial colonists began preparing the planet starting with construction of the central dome. 7 years later. . . Pioneer 2 completed its long voyage with the main wave of refugees aboard but just as they entered orbit and opened a communications link with the Central Dome, an enormous explosion occurred. All contact with the men and women of Pioneer 1 was lost. Exactly what happened on Ragol?-Quote from game manual.

Gameplay - 9/10

Unlike most RPGs, PSO is an action-RPG, as opposed to the turn based systems of games like Final Fantasy. In fact, this game plays quite like Zelda:OoT. In the game you?ll walk about Pioneer 2, visit the shops, bank, headquarters, hospital, and quest board. You can choose to accept various quests to make money and gain experience, or just beam down to Ragol to go about the game?s main adventure. Once on the planet, you'll draw your weapon and begin searching for information on what happened to Pioneer 1.

The game basically unfolds like this: enter a room, kill all the enemies in the room, collect any items/money you can, read any text message clues if they exist, go into the next room that just opened, repeat. Eventually you?ll reach the boss chambers and upon success, the next area of Ragol will open. If it sounds simple, that?s because it is. Perhaps you?d like to know how the fighting works, considering that most of the game consists of it? Fighting is similar to the Zelda games, you have multiple assignable buttons, to which you can assign attack strengths (light, heavy, special), items (such as healing items), or Techniques. Techniques are PSO's equivalent to magic, which includes attacks such as lightning, fire, ice, heal, etc. PSO has a locking targeting system, similar to the 'Z-target' that Nintendo made famous. However, there is no target lock button, thus, any time an enemy is in sight, the game will automatically lock on it. . . unfortunately the game automatically locks on the nearest visible target. So you may not be able to attack the enemy you wanted to attack. A new addition in PSO is an assistant called a MAG. Your MAG trains and grows alongside you, so as you feed it, it will level up. Once it is strong enough, it will occasionally absorb some of the damage you take, help your stats, offer defense techniques, and it can eventually release a very powerful special attack. The game also has vast quantities of items and weapons that help make the game entertaining. The minor letdowns in game play are these: there is no pause function, and this can be really irritating, you cannot manually target your enemies, and the camera occasionally doesn?t work the way you want, but you can easily adjust it.

Graphics - 10/10

For the Dreamcast these graphics are extremely impressive! Modeling detail is very high quality, the worlds around you are very detailed, and the characters have a great deal of realism in general. Some of the NPC?s bit mapping lacks realism, but that is a very minor complaint. I can?t recall any slowdown, even when a great number of objects are on screen at once. Sonic Team really knows what they?re doing here.

Sound - 8/10

The sound is good, typical of a SEGA production. Generally nothing exceptionally fantastic, but as a whole, it definitely does the job. The sounds effects definitely fit the surroundings, and the music fits the environments.

Longevity

You deserve to be warned at this point. This game will take a great deal of time to beat the Normal difficulty. And you?ll probably want to try the Hard (and afterwards, Very Hard) modes. Even once you beat it, you?ll probably be hooked into leveling up your character, and finding rare items. This is very addicting and will last you a long time.

Appropriateness

- Violence - 5/10

Can you say ?hack-and-slash?? That?s generally the way the game works. Basically you?ll enter a room, kill all the beasts/machines in sight, the doors will open, and you can enter the next room and start again. Obviously, this game is violent. You?ll fight with various forms of swords (physical and energy based), guns, and Techniques. You only fight a few humans, and never to death. After dispensing of an enemy, they will shrink into the ground and leave a stain on the ground resembling blood. It?s not particularly gruesome, but still, you will do a lot of killing.

- Language - 10/10

There is no foul language in this game. In online mode, someone could use profanities, but those are often blocked. Furthermore online gameplay is no longer available, rendering this warning meaningless.

- Adult Content - 8/10

As is typical for a lot of games now, some of the female characters have low cut tops and skirts, but in character creation you can always pick a more fitting costume. However in character creation, you can shape your character however you like.

- Occult - 6/10

I would consider little of this truly ?occult?, but it does push the line. All characters (except for the androids) can learn ?Techniques?, the game?s equivalent to magic. Techniques are mostly elemental or healing, but there are a couple of ?dark? techniques. Many of the items have ?magic? attributes, some have name prefixes such as ?demon-. . .?, ?hell-. . .?, and ?God-. . .?, for example. However, just about everything is explained away as technology. Some of the enemies you fight include a ?Chaos Sorcerer? and a ?Chaos Bringer? which resembles the Greek centaur. Spoiler:The final boss is a sort of spirit that revives every thousand years, and inhabits anything (including the character that you are seeking, and the final boss? physicality) in order to do his evil will. The final battle takes place on a field of skulls.

Overall - 8/10

Speaking as a gamer, this game is very good. Speaking as a concerned Christian gamer, this game is still good, but is not without its faults. The violence, magic and addictiveness make this game questionable, so know what you?re getting into. If you can handle the game, you won?t regret the purchase, especially now that EBGames is selling it at a very good price.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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