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G Darius (PlayStation) artwork

G Darius (PlayStation) review

"G-Darius--the G stand for gigantic--continues the long standing 2-D shooter series with a style and flair not seen before in previous incarnations. Your duty remains the same however; the universe still needs saving, and the bad guys are the same metallic fish that you may have seen in all other Darius games. But now they're...gigantic. "

G-Whiz, why all the cheap deaths?

It's a shame really: when a game that does so many things superbly is only decent in the end. This is the fate of G-Darius.

G-Darius--the G stand for gigantic--continues the long standing 2-D shooter series with a style and flair not seen before in previous incarnations. Your duty remains the same however; the universe still needs saving, and the bad guys are the same metallic fish that you may have seen in all other Darius games. But now they're...gigantic.

You can play alongside a friend or go solo on your dubious mission. In either case, you will be treated to some of the best polygon based graphics ever presented in a shooter. There is no denying it--the game looks incredible. The colours are always vibrant, and often psychedelic, the backgrounds imaginative and well realized (like Atlantis!) and the enemies are large, look good and are well animated. They move fluidly, as fish SHOULD move, and many of them take up multiple screens.

The drawback to the look of the game lies in how the graphics obscure your ship. The game lacks a certain 'chunkiness', and it often feels as if you represent an actor playing in front of the bluescreen. This 'disconnectedness' is at best distracting, and at worst, irritating.

If the gorgeous graphics being irritating at times sounds confusing, even more strange is how Zuntata--Taito's in house composers--could come up with such an uninspiring score. The music in RayCrisis received much positive attention, and though its predecessor Raystorm produced more mixed reviews, its inspired, if perhaps idiosyncratic appeal has at the very least been the subject of much debate. I doubt if G-Darius players will even NOTICE the music, as well as the simply adequate sound effects.

Taito may well have saved the game with the great game play elements they brought to the table. Firstly, the game is highly customizable. There are several difficulty levels to select, from super easy to super hard. You can choose to play only against bosses too, and due to the multiple paths that the main game allows you to choose from, there are a LOT of those.

Also, the capture balls are a nice touch. You can fire them at enemies and as the name suggests, capture them, and use them as extra firepower or as a shield. How they aid you depends on the type of enemy captured. They can be destroyed if they absorb too many enemy bullets, you can detonate them as the obligatory smart bomb, and you can charge their energy to be unleashed in the all-powerful alpha beam.

This is where the game gets FUN. The beam will wipe out everything in its way, but even more exciting is how it can be used against bosses. You see, the bosses all utilize a beta beam just like your alpha beam. When they fire theirs at you, and you fire at it with your own, it will create a 'counter' in your favour, pushing back both beams at the boss with spectacular results.

Unfortunately, all of these innovations in game play, (not firsts, but innovations in their execution just the same) and the game's great looks can't save it from that shooter killer: lack of balance.

G-Darius is hard and quite often cheaply so. Unavoidable and hard to see bullets are only a small part of the problem. What's worse is getting to a boss with no enemy captured. A few bosses will provide you with a wave of weaklings to snare, facilitating your crucial alpha beam, but many will not. This makes for extremely TEDIOUS boss battles should you be unfortunate enough to have forgotten to bring along a captured friend. (The bosses take a LOT of punishment.)

The final complaint is the worst, and it is almost a Darius trademark. The power up system is slow and gradual, like level building in RPGs. If you don't die, and keep building your arsenal successfully you will have a good shield, powerful cannons and four-way auxiliary lasers that will make dying, despite the cheapness, hard. Should you die once or twice however, your arsenal will be powered DOWN, and as Darius games are always reluctant in giving out more power-ups, the result is watching your ship burst into flames over and over.

It seems as if Taito saw this problem, as when you continue your game, G-Darius takes pity on you, doling out enough power-ups to get you back into the game so to speak. But even this is a mistake, as it encourages you, once you've died once, to die a few more times, because you will be afforded a better chance of survival upon continuing!

In the end, G-Darius is not unplayable--setting it to super easy and just blowing through it is quite enjoyable. It's a great rental perhaps, and unfortunately its flaws relegate it to the pile of 'disposable shooters'. The two player simultaneous mode does wonders to help its score.

Gigantic Darius' flaws seem small, but they succeed in reducing a huge game with huge hype to mediocrity.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 14, 2004)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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