Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Project X Zone

Gamespot Score: 6.5 (Fair)

My Score: 7.2

(+) Pros: - An amazing cast of characters, - Very flashy combos and attacks, - Different characters provide different ways of attacking opponents, - Its satisfying to call in supports to rake up your combo meter to ridiculous numbers.

(-) Cons: - Gets ridiculously repetitive and draggy towards the end, - Not much real strategy in fights, - Zero replay value.

Gameplay time: 40-50 hours

I have been waiting on this game for a LOOOONG time. I was already hell bent on getting a Japanese version if they didn't decide to localize "Project X Zone". Fortunately, they did it, and I couldn't have been happier. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the release date of "Pokemon X/Y" when I got my 3DS, so it took me awhile to get my copy of "Project X Zone". The very idea of clashing multiple characters from multiple games just makes my heart race, and especially since this is a spiritual successor/sequel to "Namco X Capcom" (hell it even has characters from there), I definitely HAD to play this one, at least once in my life. So here I am, to tell you about "Project X Zone", Bandai Namco, Capcom and Sega's love child...its a downgrade from "Namco X Capcom". I don't know if that's because this is on the 3DS, but I'll leave that in your minds for now. 

The story focuses on our two protagonists, Koryuji Mii and Tenzai Kogoro. The Koryuji bloodline has been in charge of protecting the portal stone for generations, a stone that is capable of creating pathways throughout different worlds, and they have always enlisted the help of the Tenzai clan, a group of established demon killing ninjas, to assist them in defending it. However, all of that changed one day, as the portal stone suddenly disappeared. The current heir of the Koryuji bloodline, Koryuji Mii, wants to look for it, and she employed the help of her tutor, Tenzai Kogoro, the successor of the Tenzai clan. Of course, they dug their noses too deep, and they were attacked by unknown enemies, which made clear to what they were facing. At the same time, the portal stone has caused the lines between the worlds to blur, and other heroes from their different universes start to get dragged into this mess...

Frank West + Hsien-Ko AND Lindow?! Sold.

Do you guys remember "Namco X Capcom" from the PS2 era? "Project X Zone" is mostly similar. You gather round a bunch of units in a level, the game lays them out for you, then you proceed to use them in a SRPG turn by turn basis to clobber the enemies as the enemies clobber you during their turns. Its simple really, different units have different attack ranges and different stats...its common SRPG terms. When your character engages an enemy unit, you get thrown into the battle screen, where characters from both units appear like in a fighting game.

Then from the battle screen, you hit buttons through a command list shown at the bottom 3DS screen to execute attacks. You can combo these attacks to keep your opponent off the ground, both to rake up the hit score, get critical hits, and not give your opponent a chance to regain their block shield, which is a temporary shield that they have to block against some of your attacks. Dealing damage and hitting your opponents will fill up the XP gauge, which is a universal meter that you will use in battle. You will need XP to block enemy attacks, counter them, use skills and activate super moves as well as multi attacks (AOE attacks). XP caps at 100%, but you can bring it further through the game's cross feature, which features you attacking the enemy in battle through different units. Hitting enemies while they are in "cross" will have you bring the XP to a maximum of 150%, which allows for more utility or offensive options in battle. Of course, what you can do, the enemy can do as well, though normal enemies do not have super moves or multi attacks.

This isn't even half of the cast.

Needless to say the gameplay, while an important part of the game itself, the main selling point of "Project X Zone" is that its FILLED to the brim with popular characters from 3 block buster companies, Capcom, Bandai Namco and Sega. People buy this game for the characters, fact. When someone sees the cover of this game, he/she will go "Shoot, that's a lot of characters that I know!", and the interest builds from there. If you're a fan of any of these 3 companies or their characters, this game is easily shot up from an interest's point of view, which is undoubtedly what this game is trying to shoot for. The characters that you know and love retain their personalities, which is fantastic.

 Ryu is as straight faced as ever, and Dante is just a cool devil hunter like always (this is old Dante btw, not the DmC Dante). Yurri and Estelle still remain as imperative, while T-Elos still wants to kill Kos-Mos. Frank takes pictures of the sexy females and Kaguya is still oblivious about her sexy well-being. And while everyone is doing what they do best, Soma just sits there with a glum look on his face with Alisa trying to tease him. Everyone is just as you remember, and while you might not know all of these characters, its the fact that you get to see them converse or interact with the ones you know that is interesting. Believe me, there are a ton of unique pre-battle and post-battle interactions that can get pretty out of hand (like how Zephyr and Leanne tell Lady that they can only hold 3 weapons, or Chris and Jill telling Flynn that special modern day agents look weird working with a medieval knight).

Megaman X and Zero working with the sexy robot chicks
from Xenosaga...not a sight you see everyday. Ulala's there too.

Characters and how the game works aside...let's get into the main meat of the game, which is what you'll be doing most of the time...that's combat. When you get your characters into the battle screen, combos are top priority, and its how you juggle or keep your opponents in the air that are important. Every pair unit in the game has 5 main attacks, one super attack and one multi attack, as well as a support maneuver when they are called into battle by another pair unit doing battle elsewhere. All support units have a single attack animation which lasts longer than most pair units 2-3 attacks. The attacks from the various attacks look pretty damn flashy, with attacks covering a good portion of the screen. X firing X busters, Ichiro launching tigers from his blade or Alisa using her head to blow people up...everything together is really a sight to behold, mixing and matching characters to your taste is really a fun thing to experiment. 

Different characters attack differently, and its important to master every character for yourself. Kite and Blackrose have straightforward attacks, while Ichiro and Sakura's are hard to combo. Zephyr and Leanne thrive on landing critical hits, while Dante and Demitri just blast through their foes with brute force. Everyone attacks differently, and the pair units do a good job from staying different from one another, there are no clones. Also, with the way the cross system works, you'll be calling in supports to lock your enemies mid-air. Having supports on the field while landing your own attacks leads to some very satisfying situations, where you'll be getting massive numbers and hits on screen. If you like to see the enemies blow up in massive rings of fire and explosions, this game will suit you nicely.

Good to see that Juri is still on bad terms with old Chun-Li.

The flaws in this game are really obvious. For one, all characters in the game are unlocked WAY too soon. The game as 41 chapters, and you'll get about everyone by chapter 22, that means that there is little incentive in unlocking characters later on. The later levels become a massive grind as enemies become massive health sponges. They take a lot to bring down, even regular enemies will require multiple super moves to defeat...let's not talk about the bosses (later levels are at least 2 hours long because of the freaking tanky normal enemies that are otherwise no threat). There isn't strategy involved in most of the battles (only some of the timed battles do), it's just out brawl your enemies and hope for the best most of the time. Finally, there is no replay value, NG+ is a sham, trust me.

"Project X Zone" does what it needs to do well. Its a fan service game with a ton of characters that we all know and love, just don't expect to be hooked on to it for too long. You'll love it for the first half of the game, but the final few chapters just feel draggy due to the overabundance of enemies. You'll enjoy your time because of all these awesome characters, but honestly, it could have been so much better. Let's hope that if they do another awesome crossover in the future, they'll step things up a bit.

Happy gaming!