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Phantasy Star Zero review

One isn't fun but online it's a different story

Back in the day Sega used to trumpet on about getting six billion people to play online in its Dreamcast adverts. It was a lofty ambition, but a bit daft when half the world didn't even have electricity, never mind a reliable internet connection. With Phantasy Star Zero Sega has downscaled to a four-player experience, but it's produced a mighty close replica to what the Dreamcast's Phantasy Star Online offered, minus the wobbly juddermonster phone line.

In fact taking Zero online is the best way to play it, or at least with other local players. That way some of its most noticeable shortcomings can be forgotten about via the medium of pretty pictures. Zero's biggest selling point is its streamlined system of communication.

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Just as with Online, which promised to overcome language barriers by providing you with symbols, the touch screen is used to either select phrases or scrawl your own, or you can draw a picture to convey your furious anger at being left to die. It's instant communication, and you can bring up a pre-doodled template, easy as.

Fighting The Same Battles

It's such a smooth system, but the problem is your imaginative messages and insults might be too numerous for the situations you'll encounter. There's also far too much repetition of basic mission types. For example, in the first of seven worlds, we battled through a series of samey areas and finally came to a point where we met a giant flying manta ray... thing. It was a tough job getting rid of it, but with help from our comrades we saw it off (lots of rude notes here).

On returning to the central marketplace to pick up another quest, we found ourselves trawling through a very similar set of pitched battles before meeting the same boss again! Alright, that wasn't the finale of that particular job, but it was a real bind having to go through the whole lot again.

Perhaps more than the communication aspect, Zero feels more like its ten-year-old cousin in the way you have to grit your teeth and get on with pounding your way through the game. It's not such a chore - this is one of the finest looking DS games we've seen for some time, and the wealth of customisation options almost provide another mode in itself - but offline, with three AI numpties gawping at you, a giant snake locked in a mortal clinch and a camera with a mind of its own to contend with, it's much less of a laugh than going online.

Online, the joy of loot collection is magnified. When you work together as a team to defeat a group of enemies and share the rewards, there's a rare feeling of having earned it. Online, the monotony of walking through randomly generated locales is lightened by being shown what your mate thinks your mum looks like. Online, you'll see the three-strike combat system working almost in rhythm, and very impressive it is too.

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So you should give real consideration to buying this if you have an internet hotspot nearby. If not, this is a phans-only affair.

Comments

25 comments so far...
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  1. toffeeman30 Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 13:43

    another title that promised so much but dont really live up to their previous titles. shame really,the previous games were really enjoyable but this game dont seem to push the games forward to another level.will stick to my vc version of phantasy star 4,which is really good fun

  2. Darkxaur Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 15:05

    It's getting a UK release? *explodes*
    Great stuff, I'll pack my Chainswd+15.

  3. shadowbowser28 Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 15:08

    I just don't see why anyone would get this when you could buy the psp version (which now sells for about a tenner) and get a better game.

  4. nintendo_guy Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 16:06

    Zero.

  5. ibarnaby64 Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 16:18

    another title that promised so much but dont really live up to their previous titles. shame really,the previous games were really enjoyable but this game dont seem to push the games forward to another level.will stick to my vc version of phantasy star 4,which is really good fun

    Play it before you bash it. It's a very deep game.

  6. Gothic_Geek Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 16:23

    I just don't see why anyone would get this when you could buy the psp version (which now sells for about a tenner) and get a better game.

    Some people don't have, and can't afford, a PSP :P
    I've already pre-ordered this after thoroughly enjoying PS Universe. It seems like I'll enjoy it, and the animé cutscenes are enough for me to plough through the story as well as the online, as crap as it may be :lol:

  7. noodle link Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 16:30

    I just don't see why anyone would get this when you could buy the psp version (which now sells for about a tenner) and get a better game.

    Some people don't have, and can't afford, a PSP


    You can get a second hand 1000 for like, £50.

  8. neongiratina Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 17:18

    I had this game in Novemebr (somehow ._.) and I didnt like it

  9. TechnoWolf Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 18:34

    If it's offline is the same as PSO's offline then I will be happy :D

    Thank a lot for spoiling the first boss :x

  10. larkin9076 Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 19:13

    got this game today my god is it good
    the in game animations are amazing
    online is excellent
    the down side is that the single payer is a bit dull other wise the game is pretty good

  11. Echizen Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 20:24

    I liked PSO, so I'll buy this.

    PSO > PS0 > PSU

  12. WesFX Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 20:52

    I've only played random online, but it's honestly just the same as single player.
    Worth it just for the single player experience.

    And what Manta Ray thing are you talking about? I've beaten the game and I don't remember anything like that. New enemies for Europe?

  13. Gothic_Geek Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 20:57

    I just don't see why anyone would get this when you could buy the psp version (which now sells for about a tenner) and get a better game.

    Some people don't have, and can't afford, a PSP


    You can get a second hand 1000 for like, £50.


    Wow, didn't know they were that cheap! Okay, maybe I'll make a new answer: because some people may not feel like there are any other PSP games that would interest them, and hence see no reason to buy the console.

    Does the PSP version have a monthly fee for playing online like the Xbox 360 one does?

  14. NEO.BAHAMUT Thursday 11th Feb 2010 at 22:37

    I still might give this a go despite the poor score that ONM gave it...

  15. Pappi Friday 12th Feb 2010 at 09:21

    Can you play this without having bought the others?

  16. Darkxaur Friday 12th Feb 2010 at 15:09

    Can you play this without having bought the others?

    Ask yourself this: would you be able to tolerate PSO: ep III? I'm guessing no.

  17. Gothic_Geek Friday 12th Feb 2010 at 15:37

    Mine came in the post today. I've played the first mission on story mode and... it's very rough around the edges! :lol:

    I'm sure it'll be better online, as ONM have said.

    And Good Lord the AI is dumb. That girl with red hair stood on spikes until she had about 2HP left, then she healed herself and continued to stand there !!!!!!! :lol:

    And I'd say you could play it without playing the others, but you wouldn't enjoy it as much - it's not exactly the most accessible game in the world!

  18. Amethyst Link Friday 12th Feb 2010 at 16:50

    if ther was ever gna be a proper 'Monster Hunter' game on DS, im guessin itd be summat similar to this (i no ther r a lot of differences but the Monster Hunter game comin out on DS dsnt look like its gna be very good)

    Edit: got this the other day and its a LOT different to Monster Hunter, so forget that comparison. i think offline is fine, but i havent had the chance to go online yet, so i hope it lives up to what u say! if anyone sees me online, my race is CAST: blue RAcaseal by the name of KAYLA, my weps (atm) r chrome twins/chrome spear and my mag (atm) is Aiolo.

  19. funmaker11 Friday 12th Feb 2010 at 20:43

    Zero.


    :lol:

  20. Amethyst Link Monday 15th Feb 2010 at 11:56

    I've only played random online, but it's honestly just the same as single player.
    Worth it just for the single player experience.

    And what Manta Ray thing are you talking about? I've beaten the game and I don't remember anything like that. New enemies for Europe?

    what race r u? each race has a different story. i must admit, im CAST and i havent found it yet.
    (side note: read my above post for description of my character, i hope i might meet u online)

  21. mirage 5x5 Monday 15th Feb 2010 at 17:29

    ive been playing this game over the weekend and i love it :D its good off line too

  22. Nitendofreak Monday 15th Feb 2010 at 21:33

    Another reason why I stopped reading ONM. I've had this game for months, reccommended from a friend and I loved it. The "It's a bit rubbish offline" is crap, the game is epic on its own, even better if you can play local with friends. This review coming from the mag that gave TWEWY 89% but SMG 97%. ¬_¬

  23. Kolo67 Saturday 20th Feb 2010 at 18:05

    another title that promised so much but dont really live up to their previous titles. shame really,the previous games were really enjoyable but this game dont seem to push the games forward to another level.will stick to my vc version of phantasy star 4,which is really good fun

    Play it before you bash it. It's a very deep game.

    I agree. Total awesomeness, this game is.

  24. Mart2006 Saturday 20th Feb 2010 at 23:25

    OMG I wish I never bought this :O

    Don't get me wrong, it's a mint game, but it's soooo annoying when all you get from your brother is: "Will you come on Phantasy Star with me"

    He's nine and is obsessed with anything RPG :D

  25. MARION64WII Saturday 20th Feb 2010 at 23:53

    I just don't see why anyone would get this when you could buy the psp version (which now sells for about a tenner) and get a better game.

    Some people don't have, and can't afford, a PSP


    You can get a second hand 1000 for like, £50.


    Wow, didn't know they were that cheap! Okay, maybe I'll make a new answer: because some people may not feel like there are any other PSP games that would interest them, and hence see no reason to buy the console.

    Does the PSP version have a monthly fee for playing online like the Xbox 360 one does?

    PSP's in my opinion are kinda bad, it may have better graphics and can play videos but it will never beat the DS. Most of the games (infact, nearly all) are not advertised and the PSP doesnt have as many fans. (also why release a pink PSP when it is mainly intended for boys?)

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