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A.P.I Review: Ehrgeiz
Developer: Square Soft, Inc. / Dream Factory OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Square Electronic Arts L.L.C. 1-2 Player
Game Type: 3D Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date: April 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

50 years ago, a mysterious weapon constructed from an unknown material was found in the remains of an old German castle.

Over time, the weapon came to known as Ehrgeiz. It was presented to the winner of a tournament that determined the world's greatest fighter. In time, it became the name and symbol of the tournament itself.

Believe it or not, but roughly 20% of all software sold for the Playstation game console is in the form of a fighting game. So it should come as no surprise that software wizard, Square would like to exploit a piece of that market.

Being no stranger to fighting games, with previous groundbreaking titles such as the Tobol and Bushido Blade series, Square has taken what they have learned from those previous games, thrown in some incredible handling characteristics and unleashed their latest fighter - Ehrgeiz!

Sound & Vision

The graphics in all the modes of Ehrgeiz are spectacular. The main fighting game features smooth, wonderfully texture-mapped characters that appear to come alive as you move them around the various fighting arenas. The animation is silky-smooth and the special effects are outstanding. Little things such as running around will elicit small puffs of smoke and dust from your character's feet, while in the "Battle Beach" mode you can actually watch your steps make footprints in the sand! Now that's what I call attention to detail. There is even no polygon breakup or seams from either the characters or the backgrounds. You are going to be amazed at what you see in this game. Also, since many of the battlefields contain multiple levels, there is a superb scaling routine that handles the size of the characters as they move forward and away. This may very well be the "hottest" fighting game that you are likely to see on the Playstation as it begins to wind down in preparation for the next systems release.

The graphics in the Quest mode are simply breathtaking. Obviously running in the Playstation's Hi-Res mode, the backgrounds are totally awesome and the characters are extremely large and well defined. You are going to get totally spoiled and begin to wonder why all RPG styled games couldn't feature graphics this lush and rich. As you venture through the dungeons you will be treated to amazing lightning effects, rippling water with lily pads gently bobbing gently on the surface, wonderful light-sourching as you move your character from light to darkness and about every other graphical trick in the Playstation library.

The music in Ehrgeiz has a nice feel to it that hooks you in and sets the mood perfectly for the task at hand…whooping some ass! Square was also thoughtful in throwing in some rather familiar musical interludes for fans of their other games. Take for instance if you are playing as Cloud, win a fight and you are treated to the battle theme ending from FFVII.

Sound effects are awesome as well with sharp, crisp clangs from your swords and thunderous lightning claps from newly deposited monsters in the Quest mode. In the main fighting game there are virtually a plethora of effects for virtually every move you make. I particularly liked the sharp little sound bytes that occasionally ensue after a character's victory. The music and sound effects keep you completely involved in whatever game mode you are playing in and round out this fantastic game quite nicely.


True 3D fighting games have been rare. Square experimented with this genre in the Bushido Blade games, but really started to get it right with the Tobol series. Ehrgeiz seems to successfully combine elements from both of these series with the end result a kick-ass fighting that you will be amazed by.

The main game features an impressive array of fighters including a half dozen members from the Final Fantasy VII universe. The fighting takes place in a true 3D universe where you can use the analog mode on the controller to move your character a full 360 degrees around the screen. There are even arenas where you have the ability to jump up or down onto ledges, walls, platforms…basically all sorts of things. This is quite easily the best-implemented 3D-fighting engine that I have ever seen so far on a home console system. Rarely do you find yourself in a situation where you don't have total and complete control over your character.

Response time from when you press the action buttons to when the character executes is dead on. With a bit of practice, executing combos, blocks and throws will become second nature.

Characters also have their own special attacks that can issue some real pain to your opponents. Cloud Strife for instance has his enormous sword that he can wield for some devastating results. Other characters have the ability to set time bombs, fire weapons from their legs and attack with killer yo-yos. I also found each character to be quite interesting and different from each other. Each had their own strengths and weaknesses that could be exploited by a skilled opponent. There was definitely not a boring fighter in the bunch.

Each player has the ability to execute multiple attacks such as high, mid and low. You can also guard against opponent attacks and do an interrupt, which has the ability to counteract a Special Attack move. Other techniques such as the Just Frame require precision timing to pull off but when executed properly can have devastating results. The sheer number of moves to be learned will keep gamers involved with Ehrgeiz for a long time trying to master everything that is offered.

There is also an option that places boxes in the arena. Once broken, all sorts of goodies spill out that can be utilizes by the player and they're opponent such as knives that can be thrown and health ups.

About the only drawbacks that I can find with this game are really just nit-picks. First of all, while I thought the 16 characters that are included in the game where quite diverse and interesting there could have been a few more. Second, some of the characters special attacks and weapons are so dominating that only more advanced opponents will know how to counter them. A "newbie" in this game is gonna get slaughtered when pit against a more seasoned player, but I guess that's just the way things go. Third, even though there are a good number of arenas to fight in, each character goes through the same ones and they can get a bit boring after you have mastered them all. Lastly, there is no team battle mode where you can select multiple fighters and battle it out to the death.

Not content to deliver what is undoubtedly one of the best fighting game seen so far on the Playstation, Square has also included several mini games and a fully realized quest mode.

The mini games are just that, little side diversions that are sure to entertain and amuse gamers while they are taking a breather from the main fighting game.

The mini games consist of the following:
Infinity Battle:
This is a single player game and involves defeating all opponents that appear in the character's path. Once your Physical Strength gauge is depleted, its lights out and the game is over. Each time you defeat an opponent your strength is replenished so the name of the game is to keep defeating your enemies!

Battle Runner:
This is a two-player or one on the CPU match. Players run around a circuit type field and in order to win, the player must run around the regulation course faster than their opponent. Once again, when you Physical Strength gauge is depleted or your opponent finish's the game first you lose. Things can get pretty wild as you are punching it out with your opponent to sap their strength and finish first.

Battle Beach:
Another two-player mode, this one has you participating in a series of activities on a nice warm sunny beach. There is "Battle Dash" which is a simple start to finish race, "Battle Flag" where you must outrun your opponent and be the first to dive onto the flag at the end of the race and finally "Battle Hurdle". Here you run along the beach and jump over branches that have been place in your way. Again, first one to the finish line wins!

Battle Panel:
One or Two-players fight it out on an 8x8 grid that consists of panels with each players respective colors. Be the first to fill in the majority of your color on the board and you win. Of course, you can also pummel your opponent in the process.

Last and certainly not least, Ehrgeiz contains a fully realized Quest Mode that is truly a full game all in itself. This is a one-player game that has a man partnered up with a woman. You can only bring one player down into the dungeons at a time but can switch back and forth between the two players whenever you wish, by simple going back to your "hotel room" and selecting the other character.

The game consists of two main areas; first there is the over world that contains various shops in which you can purchase food, armor and repairs for your weapons. You also get valuable clues by talking to the people here as well as getting asked to do some special missions.

The second area is the dungeon itself. There are several locations that allow you to enter the underground caverns; some containing much more powerful monsters so it is up to you to decide where you wish to begin.

Once you enter the dungeon you have to be alert to your condition. While down there you get hungry, and when you get hungry you must eat so make sure you're properly stocked with food. It's not quite that easy though…as a human your body must take nourishment from 5-key food groups. Making sure that each of these food groups is maxed, will ensure that your adventurer is in peak fighting form.

Next there are the monsters that inhabit the dark dank corridors. Fighting is done in real time and there are often a slew of opponents that you have to mow down…all on the screen at the same time! You are not defenseless though, as you can purchase or find all kinds of weapons and battle armor to assist you in your battle. The Materia system is also used in the game. You can equip various Materia to be used as Basic Materia attacks and Ultra Materia attacks. Of course, not being a Magician you must purchase Magic Stones to enable your to execute the Materia commands.

Truly this is an entire game in its own right and is just icing on the cake that it is included with the main event.

GRAPHICS: 19/20 So there you have it…now the ball is firmly in your court. Are you interested in playing what is perhaps the very best 3-D fighting game available today for the Playstation? Well if the answer if yes, then I suggest you haul your ass down to the store and pick up Ehrgeiz right now.

The graphics will totally blow you away, the sound effects and music are top notch and the gameplay is really second to none.

While the game does have a few minor flaws, it is easily right up there with the best the Playstation has to offer in fighting games…and that company includes Tekken 3…'nuff said.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 20/20


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