Phantasy Star Universe
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Genre: Action/RPG
Sega’s Phantasy Star series has come a long way since its beginnings. After four iterations, the game went online with PSO on the Dreamcast. PSO was well received and spawned Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2.0. Both games appeared later on different consoles after the DC went under and now Sega is bringing the series back with the long awaited Phantasy Star Universe.
PSU still looks and feels like Phantasy Star, but does have some new features that enhance the experience. Photon-based weapons are still around, and we’re not complaining because they’re just so darn cool. The difference is that you can swap weapons in the midst of battle with the press of a button…well, the press of two buttons to be precise. This makes switching from ranged attacks to melee quick and easy. Then again, if you like to keep your options open, you can also choose to equip a short photon blade weapon in one hand and wield a firearm in the other. If you do like the convenience of having both out at the same time, you can shoot your ranged weapon by holding the right shoulder button down and hitting the ranged attack button. Keep in mind that while having both a ranged weapon and a melee weapon out simultaneousy can be convenient, it does have some tradeoffs.
For instance, you can only equip small photon blades if you’ve also got a gun out. This leads to dealing less damage per hit. Sometimes you just need brute force to get through an area. Your gun will also be weaker than some of the larger firearms that can only be equipped if you’re not holding a photon blade.
Phantasy Star Universe keeps a lot of the series’ trademarks in tact. You’ll once again run into gargantuan bosses and hordes of enemies in the dungeons. The character design and background art is distinctly Phantasy Star so the game is easily recognizable the moment you see it. Also, a lot of the same icons and status effects are back making veterans feel right at home.
PSU is currently set to release this Fall simultaneously on the PS2, PC and Xbox 360. The game will support up to six players in a party online and PS2 owners will be able to play directly with PC fans. The Xbox 360 game will not be compatible with the other two versions. However, 360 players may see other rewards in the form of downloadable content. Nothing has been set in stone, but I was told that information regarding downloadable content would be announced this Summer.