Full Metal Alchemist and the Broken Angel

Review

posted 1/6/2005 by Jennifer Yan
other articles by Jennifer Yan
One Page Platforms: PS2
I've got to hand it to Square Enix, not even letting Full Metal Alchemist get a chance to saturate the market with a variety of show related goods before releasing the first game. Full Metal Alchemist and the Broken Angel places players in the role of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who are in search of the Philosophers Stone, a legendary jewel that grants the owner limitless power over alchemy. If you need a basic back story to the manga/show let me break it down. The two brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who attempted to perform forbidden alchemy. After the death of their mother they attempted to bring her back to life. But the law of equivalent trade in alchemy didn't quite perform as once believed when they attempted to resurrect their dead mother. Edward lost an arm and a leg, and his brother Alphonse lost his entire body, and to be saved had his soul bound to a giant suit of armor. The title "Full Metal" was given to Ed by the military, and as per the show he is sent on reconnaissance missions for the state. Searching for the Philosophers Stone is just a side mission to help Ed and Al regain their lost bodies.

So now that you're as up to speed as you need to get let's talk about the game shall we? The basic story is a side story to the show itself, a big search for the Philosophers Stone (You may have heard of this stone if you played the wonderfully esoteric, Shadow of Destiny, didn’t play it? I didn’t think so). Not much of a story to go on seeing as how the rest of the show does the exact same thing and actually has a resolution, but it is serviceable. The dialog is hokey, the voice acting is the same quality as the TV show currently airing on Cartoon Network, the graphics are adequate, the sound quality could be better, game play has some interesting twists, and after all of that it still isn't as good as the first Ghost in the Shell game from back on PS1. But really if you're a fan of this show and reading this you'll probably ignore what I have to say, but please, hear me out.

The core game play at times is the games greatest strength but at other times it is the absolute weakness. Basically what you have here is your very basic hack and slash kind of game play reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors or Final Fight but with a few not-so-interesting twists. All you need is a little alchemy and the slightest things on the side of the road can become great weapons to help put the hurt on the countless numbers of hoodlums and grunts you'll be fighting through all the stages. So as you're running through a stage and you see lets say a sign, you have the option to turn it in to either a weapon for Al, Ed or a stand alone weapon that you can leave lying around for your enemies to walk in to. Along the way you'll find items that will augment the weapons you create, giving them elemental attributes which helps dole out some more damage. You'll also find a large amount of stationary weapons that can be mounted that serve as a turret. You can't just pick any weapon to defeat your enemies, most of the non human enemies, chimeras, actually require some thinking in order to defeat them, does the weapon pierce, slash, take down airborne enemies? These things you'll have to take into consideration as you go looking for weapons to make.

Now the biggest problem with this system is that you can't create whatever you want, you are always given two options, and it's not always going to be something you want. So you'll have to head over to another piece of landscape in search of that perfect weapon. Aside from that there is the problem with the AI of your enemies, and Alphonse. Enemies like to run off and hide in corners, or if they are going to move in on you they make it nice and slow, Al is pretty much the same way, thankfully you can issue commands to him and make him come to your defense or pick up weapons to use but there are a number of times where he will get stuck up on something and will be a pain in the ass to get back to. Also his HP is not limitless, and the game doesn't exactly tell you how much HP he has when the action on the screen is getting hot and heavy.
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