Phantasy Star Online

Review

posted 5/8/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Quite a few years ago SEGA made an RPG named Phantasy Star for its Genesis console. I can’t remember much about it but I do remember something about a hot chick with horns and something about an epic storyline and an effeminate-looking make lead. The game was apparently successful enough to spawn a few sequels that by my recollection, were actually quite good. A decade or so passed until SEGA finally decided to resurrect their seemingly defunct series and thus Phantasy Star appeared on the Dreamcast.

There was a twist though, the game would be far more epic than the previous entries, so epic that it could only be contained in the online realm. Interestingly enough the game was successful despite the unpopularity of the Dreamcast console and thus a sequel was born. A year or so has passed and the game has found a home a next generation console. Now that it’s actually on a system that sells, the world will be able to discover what so many people already know, that Phantasy Star Online is in fact one of the most impressive and addictive titles to hit the scene in quite some time.

Forget everything you know about the Dreamcast endeavor because those days of instability and shakiness are long gone. Let’s say this as bluntly as possible, Phantasy Star Online is more addictive than crack. If you thought EverQuest was addicting then you obviously haven’t played Phantasy Crack Online. Your sessions will usually start out as “hey let’s just play for a while to kill some time” and will evolve into “dammit, I need to level up just one more time! I’m so close!” Six hours later and you’ll be wondering to yourself exactly where your day went.

Much of the game remains unchanged with the main change coming in the controller layout. You still have three primary buttons, two attacks and the communication button. Communicating is much easier now thanks to the Xbox headset communicator. Instead of having to type out lengthy and verbose statements with the virtual keyboard you can communicate with your peers on the fly. This makes playing the game much more engrossing than ever before because you’ll never have to take your eyes off the action to tell your buddy that you’re in the need of some help. An added negative though is that participants seem to have a penchant for breathing into the mic, guess all the excersing to and from the fridge has left them short of breath.

As stated you have the two attacks, one is a quick attack while the other is a more focused attack. When you begin you select your character class (which basically boils down to easy, medium and hard difficulty). The easy class features warriors proficient in close quarters, medium has rangers that fire projectiles while the hardest features wizards. Obviously beginners shouldn’t jump into the game with the third class as they will have their proverbial asses handed to them.
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