Phantom Crash (Xbox) review
"The XBOX is unofficially the console of choice for mecha games. "
The XBOX is unofficially the console of choice for mecha games.
There has been MechAssault, GunMetal, Robotech: BattleCry, the big and hard to find Steel Battalion, Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuit and finally Phantom Crash, by Genki. (More are even announced comming, as if those were not enough...)
Phantom Crash is the mecha arena fighting game. In 20XX, combatants come into the arena with their mecha, called this time around ''SV'', or by their nickname: ''Scoobees''. You fight and you fight until you are declared champion of the Old-Tokyo district.
Phantom Crash is a very beautiful game, to say the least. From the time you insert your DVD in your XBOX and watch the intro, you'll be amazed by the quality of the graphics and the artistic presentation it has.
The intro features real-live footage of Tokyo as it is today, with added features, like destroyed roads and battling scoobees. All of it fit perfectly well with the background and is simply amazing to behold.
The presentation of the game comes as being inspired by manga. The characters you will meet are all cel-shaded (but i have to say even though it's good looking, it isn't the best use of cel-shading i've seen).
The game itself is not cel-shaded. It features a city in rumbles and ''realistic'' looking 10 to 15 foot tall scoobees. Some slow downs occurs during heavy particule effects, such as multiple explosions on the screen at once, which is a big turn down.
Scoobees can turn invisible (à la Predator cloaking effect). The cloaking effect is very well done, the scoobee not just ''turning invisible'', but more like ''bending light'' around it. Very well done overall.
Sound effect are very well done, but nothing that will blow you away. 5.1 surround sound is present and very impressive.
The game's soundtrack feature over 60 different tunes that you can select from the music shop in the game. With it, you can create your own play-list of music to listen to during the midst of battle. The genre and style of the music feature in Phantom Crash is very varied from fast tecno music to slow and tender with some experimental thrown in for the weirdness factor they have, but they all tend to be very ''japanese-anime movie inspired''.
This means that if you're not a fan of japanese anime movies, you may find the music selection, some by real known artist in Japan, strange at best, annoyingly painful at worst.
What's missing in the game are digital voices. You can't read two lines of text that are there for 2 seconds during the midst of the frantic action that the game gives. I found myself missing 99% of the (fortunately unimportant) dialogs during the matchs. The long conversations between contestants between the matches could also use a bit of voice acting (and in some case, spelling grammar).
Phantom Crash plays a lot like Gran Turismo (yes, the racing game on PlayStation), with a few differences. Just replace cars by scoobees and racing by ''death match'' and you have Phantom Crash.
Between matches, you can upgrade your mecha. Legs, for example, offers the following: 2 legs, 4 legs, 6 legs, 2 wheels, 4 wheels, 6 wheels and hover. Each leg-part can be tuned ''lighter'', having better speed, maneuverability and less weight capability of the scoobee for other equipment or heavier, making the legs tougher to destroy and being able to support more weight, and more equipment.
All this ''weight tweaking'' also apply to the left arm, the right arm, the main ''body'' or torso, the right backpack and the left backpack (for additional weapons). Weapons can be tweaked, making them lighter (with more ammo capacity) or heavier (with more damage).
You've also got your assortiment of options like optical camouflage and snack dispensers. (yes you heard right, there are thing like snack dispensers and ''lucky charms'').
If that was not enough, each scoobee is equipped with an AI chip that feature an animal personality. Each animal chip features special stats that can be upgraded. The AI controls the targetting capacity of the scoobee and can activate special effects, such as a force field around your scoobee. The AI becomes your companion and talks to you during most of the matches.
The only problem in the game is the number of arenas, which is only three (four if you include the test arena for training and testing new weapons). They are well done, even if they are not very big. But one can get tired of fighting through the ruined construction site, the ruined downtown city and the subway ''caves''. I still logged over 30 hours of Phantom Crashing through the same arenas and i'm still not tired of playing...
It feels somewhat like the game Phantasy Star Online in which you get to replay the same levels over and over and over, but you still can't get enough of it.
Overall a very solid gaming experience.
The storyline though, is more or less useless. It does however gives more personality to the contestants. Kind of like what we can see in the game ''Quantum Redshift'' where characters meet and talks about what they like or hate about each other, but in Phantom Crash, it actually works (even if it can get annoying and that it usually boils down to simple teenager love/hate affair so common in japanese anime).
Phantom Crash is a very good game, and the price has been cut down so many times at various stores, you MUST give it at least a try. (if you like anime and / or mecha games and / or customization gallore).
It can get repetitive though, but it so far hasn't stopped me from going back in my favorite scoobee with my favorite AI chip installed... :)
Community review by deedob (May 12, 2003)
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