|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Game Type:||Shooter||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||April 1998|
Setting the Scene
Einhander is Square's first attempt at a shooter style game. I suppose they figured what hell...they appear to have the RPG style game down to a science, they have already released two fighting games; the very nice Tobol No. 1 and the exceptional Tobol No. 2, so why not try and conquer the twitch / shooter market as well. Well, square has definitely done their homework and investigated the genre quite well before implementing Einhander...but do they succeed with the final product? Read on!
Einhander is a mission based "twitch" type shooting game.
As with all of the "newer" Square titles, you are immediately treated to a wonderful FMV opening sequence that really sets the scenario and stimulates your senses. You begin to get the feeling that something good is about to happen here. The actual gameplay graphics are incredible. I mean, with Square's reputation I already expected a nice graphical flare, but I was certainly not prepared for what I was seeing. All of the characters in the game and basically everything that moves is made up of polygons. What this translates to is incredibly animated, superior looking characters (when compared to sprites) that move extraordinarily FAST! The level of detail in the objects is astounding. Coloration is vibrant, yet shaded very realistically. The texture mapping techniques used are truly innovative for a game of this type. The screen is also literally loaded with these objects, enemies and your fighter yet there is no slowdown. Even when there are explosions and other special effects happening, the game continues to cruise right along...zip...no problem. The special effects are also cutting-edge with amazing particle explosions that consist of enemies that break apart into progressively smaller pieces and literally disintegrate right in front of you eyes. All of this is of course embellished with raid array execution and ample light-sourching to complete the effect. Everything just seems so active and vital on the screen that it dazzles your eyes. Backgrounds are also nicely done, featuring a mix of polygons and blending 2-D pre-rendered backdrops. The backgrounds convey a real sense of depth to them...this illusion is further cemented by the ability to break and blow-up objects that are seemingly static background objects. Cool. Oh, and just wait until you witness some of the boss enemies. These encounters place you in a deadly battle to the finish with characters that literally fill the entire screen up. Polygon counts for the bosses are way up there as well. They are animated smoothly and convincingly and look breathtaking. Just wait until you blow one of these puppies away... Once again the graphics in a particular genre of game have been raised another notch and a line in the sand has been crossed, erased and re-drawn. Talk about your eye candy...it's here.
Sounds and Effects
The music in Einhander is quite appropriate and well matched to the varying missions. One moment the music is quite haunting and the next blood pumping. Depending on where you are in a mission, the music fits into the action nicely. The musical score also isn't overpowering...it's rather subtle, but you know it's there. The sound effects are also fitting. Each weapon you acquire and utilize has its own very distinguishable sound. Explosions are aptly handled as are varying vehicle sounds. Background sounds are also skillfully woven into the game. All in all the music and sound effects do their job in pulling you into the game...as they should.
First up, you have to understand that Einhander is a twitch-based shooter. I don't really care for these types of games. Perhaps I am getting jaded but I no longer enjoy the intensity, yet lack of return that these types of games provide for me. For a diversion, I'll occasionally pick one up and play for an hour or two, get all pumped up and then forget about playing another shooter for months. The replay value for me just isn't there. With that said, I expected Einhander to be more of a chore rather than an enjoyment to review. Well, I was wrong about the "chore" part to be sure...the game is a blast to play! Now remember, the copy I have is the Japanese version and I don't read Japanese so I may have missed some valuable inf. on the menu screens, but I doubt it. For the most part, it's pretty straight forward getting the game configured and ready to go. You have a selection of three difficulty settings, plus free which lets you acclimate to the game and your controls before stepping into a game that really counts. The initial selection of ships is three; the Endymion FRS Mk. II, Endymion FRS Mk. III and the Astraea FGA Mk. I. I grabbed the FRS Mk. III figuring it had the highest number so it must be the best one. Boy, sometimes I just feel so smart. Anyway, the ship you select has "arms" that deliver the firepower. One arm can have the standard multi-use auto fire machine gun while the other is busy picking up and using the heavy duty weapons. This arm can also be manipulated to fire behind your craft, from above or below depending on your situation. Weapons are obtained by destroying enemy ships and picking them up before they drop off of the screen. The weapons are varied and some are rather devastating. The Vulcan shoots a steady stream of plasma bullets, while the Spreader distributes the fire power in wide arrays. The Wasp will fire missiles while the Cannon just plain knocks the crap out of anything it hits. Each weapon has a finite amount of ammo and once you run dry you default to the machine gun...which pretty much sucks, especially against a boss. Of course, once you destroy another cruiser you always the chance of getting another weapon. I really liked the way that the game restarts you in pretty much the same general area as you got blown up in. The checkpoints in this game must be extremely close to one another...that's a good thing. I hate starting back at the beginning of a level when I get nailed. There is also what seems like an infinite number of lives. I just kept on getting destroyed and starting right back where I left off (for the most part). I liked that too especially considering the fact that you get hit OR you hit something once -just once- and your history. A fair trade-off in my book. The game does a really nice job in keeping your interest with varying levels and enemies. I also liked the way that the levels flowed. One moment you are flying through a city at night, hovering about roof top level and then next you are in some barren wastelands. The transition happens very smoothly. I also like the variation in flying. In addition to forcibly traveling left to right there are also moments when you are traveling down into pits and into and out of the screen. Pretty neat, but nothing that hasn't been done before (Nanotek Warrior comes to mind). Still, it's this kind of flair that keeps the game fresh and the gamer longing to see the next level. You ship also comes equipped with flaps that can be opened or closed to give your craft a certain amount of drag. I was surprised by just how enjoyable this game was. Don't get me wrong here, I am still not wild about shooters, but I certainly enjoyed this one while I was playing it. If you enjoy this type of game, then you should be in nirvana. It's a wonderful ride while it lasts, but it still won't be the title I grab off the shelf first...well, maybe the US version...we'll see.
Value for Money
Hey, it's a shooter...how good can the replay be? Oh all right... in the case of this game, I guess it's pretty darn good. There are a good number of missions and ultimately ships to choose from. The action is certainly engaging and non-stop and the level design is fabulous. I'd say that you will certainly be compelled to try and finish the game and see all there is to see, but after that...nah.
really top of the line shooter. I haven't had this much fun with a game
of this type since Nanotek Warriors. The graphics are gorgeous, the
sound effects effective and the level design and missions a blast to
Square has done a nice job in capturing the essence in this shooter...the gameplay and has proven once again that they are pretty damn capable of moving into and capturing the best in just about any style of game that they seem to choose.