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Xena: Warrior Princess (PlayStation) artwork

Xena: Warrior Princess (PlayStation) review


"From mediocre graphics and sound to a camera that behaves like it has just drank 10 shots of gin, this is by all accounts a bad game. What saves me from tossing it aside as another flawed and forgettable action title is that Xena: Warrior Princess is…well…Xena. By that I don’t mean *foaming at the mouth like a crazed fangirl* “ooh Xena’s so cool and whatever has Xena in it is also cool.” No. What I mean is that despite questionable gameplay, the developers were able to faithfully recreate the TV..."



From mediocre graphics and sound to a camera that behaves like it has just drank 10 shots of gin, this is by all accounts a bad game. What saves me from tossing it aside as another flawed and forgettable action title is that Xena: Warrior Princess is…well…Xena. By that I don’t mean *foaming at the mouth like a crazed fangirl* “ooh Xena’s so cool and whatever has Xena in it is also cool.” No. What I mean is that despite questionable gameplay, the developers were able to faithfully recreate the TV series in a way that should please most Xena fans (myself included).

It’s all there: Xena’s trusty sword and chakram, her signature war-cry “ayi-yi-yi-yi--YI”, and that awesome kick of hers where she jumps and does the splits in mid-air. Gabrielle shows up briefly at the beginning but then disappears (hence the goal of the game is that Xena must save her) and even Ares makes an appearance. Adding to that, many of the levels hearken back to the TV show as Xena battles the Amazons, a Cyclops and even descends into the underworld. Cool.

I’ve already mentioned a few of the levels and don’t want to give away more, but let’s just say that there is enough variety to keep things from getting repetitive. You have the option of saving after each completed stage which is very nice because I don’t like games that expect me to play all the way through from start to finish. There are even a few puzzles, and not bad ones at that, except for one extremely taxing puzzle based on musical tones that you’ll need perfect pitch to be able to solve. Some of the levels have jumping elements, but mercifully not too many of them because due to the hellish camera this is not fun and will result in much falling and death.

Ahh, the camera. Now that I’m on the subject let me say again how horrible it is. It has a mind of its own, and what a wayward mind that is. The camera will travel all over the place at the most illogical and awkward angles, and it seems to think that when Xena is being attacked by three burly pirates, for example, I would be more interested in looking at the back of a tree or rock than at my character! I found myself thinking “please, PLEASE is there some hidden side-scroller mode that I can unlock?” But no, they chose to make this badboy 3-D and it turned into a monster they couldn’t control.

But to be fair, other than the camera and jumping Xena is very easy to control. Besides attack, block and kick moves she has several combos that look great on the screen. The chakram can be used for picking off enemies from a distances and when it is used the view switches into 1st person mode so that you can aim the chakram with the controller and even control its flight in mid-air. Xena even looks more or less like herself, if you don’t mind looking at polygons.

In fact all of the graphics and not just Xena suffer from obvious polygons, a lack of smoothness, and only a moderate amount of detail. It’s the same story with the full-motion videos. Honestly the only way I could tell that I was looking at Xena in the FMV was by the armor and the fact that this IS her game afterall so there’s a pretty good chance that it’s her. The game came out in 1999 so there is really no excuse for graphics like this other than lack of effort.

A little more effort was evident in the sound department, but not much. The voices of Gabrielle and Xena don’t really sound like the actresses who play them, but hey it could be worse. At least they sound female! Where the voice-acting really came through was with the enemies. They actually talk to you as you’re preparing to slay them which is really funny. For example in the first level the pirates Xena encounters will say things like “let’s get her” or “she’s not so tough!” Heh. Yeah, right. Dream on, boys. The music of course doesn’t come close to matching the quality of the TV show but that would just be too much to expect. It’s more than passable however, fittingly rousing and exciting but not too overpowering.

It’s really too bad that because of these flaws, Xena: Warrior Princess falls into the same trap as so many other license-based games that have come before it: While it will no doubt please fans of the series, the game lacks the serious gameplay chops to be able to appeal on a large scale to gamers outside of that circle.

Rating: 7/10

alecto's avatar
Community review by alecto (February 18, 2003)

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