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Phantasy Star Universe (Xbox 360) artwork

Phantasy Star Universe (Xbox 360) review

"Phantasy Star Universe is the tale of a young man named Ethan Waber. "

Phantasy Star Universe is the tale of a young man named Ethan Waber.

Ethan Waber is a douchebag.

That being said, Phantasy Star Universe is a wholly enjoyable experience, albeit not exactly a deep one. In the Story Mode, you play as Ethan, who, in a chapter-based story, must find the cause of and help eliminate an alien threat known only as SEED. Through this adventure, he'll get hit by a flying car, blown up by a robotic assassin, and have his ass kicked by people tougher than him because he's always picking fights with people regardless of who they are.

I've said it once and I'll say it again. Ethan Waber is a douchebag.

Each chapter begins with a prologue, in which a grainy voiced man will foreshadow the upcoming events in an attempt to sound dramatic.

He fails miserably.

Afterwards, you'll be treated to a pretty CGI scene that the PSU theme song, "Save the World", plays in. This happens in every chapter.

By the time you're on Chapter 10 or 11, you're going to despise this. Thankfully though, both the dramatic failure of an old chainsmoker's voice and the overabundance of the opening CGI scene can be skipped with a simple press of the start button. This also works for the in-game cutscenes, which is great since the voice acting is pretty bad, and sounds more at home in a Saturday morning cartoon show than it does in an RPG that's trying to be taken seriously.

So, Story Mode isn't all that impressive. Thankfully, there's also an online mode. You're able to create your own character, take it online via Xbox Live and meet people from all over the world. It's a huge step up from Phantasy Star Online's online mode. You've got voice chat in-game now, meaning you're able to talk and battle at the same time, without having to stop and type every few minutes. The party size has also been increased from PSO, allowing a total of 6 characters in a party. Also, with an expanded world, there's a lot more to see than the tiny 4 areas that PSO had. In PSU you'll be traversing through forests, canyons, ancient ruins, space stations overrun by biological nightmares with gigantic plasma blades for arms, and much, much more. Each area is lush and detailed, with beautiful texture work and large structures with futuristic lights and details engraved on them. Each area is a spectacle to behold, be it the forests of Neudaiz, which is in eternal autumn, with brown leaves falling, as you overlook a cliff with mist rising from the wide crevasse below or the canyons of Moatoob, where dust is blowing around as the sun goes down, making a beautiful backdrop that's only enhanced by the glowing moss lining the walls of the canyon.

When you're done looking at the pretty visuals, you might actually want to get some battling in. Unlike in previous Phantasy Stars, you can now equip two weapons to a variety of slots. These include Phantasy Star staples like swords, guns, and claws, and includes even more additions, such as two-handed rods, longbows, and more. Each weapon has a certain type of Photon art (read: skill) that can be set to it, based on what kind of weapon it is. Have a sword? Give it the melee-based Gravity Strike and attack with it. Have a gun? How about Burning Hit to add a flaming punch to your attacks? The combinations are endless, especially when you start setting TECHNICs (read: spells) to your Staves and Rods; the only way you CAN use them.

And use them you will. In order to make each photon art more powerful, you'll have to level them up through repeated use. With more and more level ups, comes more and more power and accuracy, as well as an increased chance to cause a status effect, if any. Once you slaughter a few enemies with your powerful skills, you can pick up the items they drop, take them to your room, and create items using the deep item synth ability. The most powerful weapons and armor are only available through item synth, so you'd better get good practice using it. You can also set up a shop in your room and have your personal machine (PSO veterans will most likely refer to this as a Mag) vend your items to people who visit your room.

With an increased focus on community, a revamped battle system that makes battles deeper and more intuitive, weekly updates that add more missions and depth to the online mode, and making the traditional Phantasy Star classes seem more diverse, Phantasy Star Universe is a good addition to the series, and a great game to play online as long as you're not expecting something along the lines of World of Warcraft.

But then again, PSU never tried to be.

espiga's avatar
Community review by espiga (July 01, 2007)

Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.

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