Title: Dark Stone   Developer: Delphine   Type: Strategy Adventure
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Dark Stone
"Dark Stone is an action RPG with a twist of strategy thrown in for good measure. Taking control of any one of 8 different characters, you must fight through the quest, in real-time battles, using spells, and hacking skills. The faint of heart need not apply."
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PSone REVIEW:
 
Taken over by his lust for the dark side, and death, the evil monk Draak has resurrected one of the mighty Dragon Lords from ages ago. After assuming his body, and the power contained within, he has only destruction in mind for the land of Uma and the people within.

The hero, is called to the awesome task of saving this once peaceful land. The Goddess Kaliba once had bestowed a Time Orb to the Druids of the land, but now it is split into seven pieces for safekeeping. Venturing out to prove yourself worthy you must recover the seven pieces of this Time Orb and use its power to defeat Draak.


Upon first firing up Dark Stone two things instantly hit me. One, the load times are very long, and two, the control is excellent. This game makes very good use of all of the buttons on the dual shock controller. No kidding, not a single button is put to waste. The shoulder buttons give access to items and spells, and even skills, all on the fly with a quick push. The player gets to decide what gets assigned to which button.

The Start button pulls up a mini menu with a few functions, and the save feature. That\'s right, save anywhere. I loved that. The thing is, since the saves take 6 blocks of the memory card, you may want to go make a sandwich while the game data is saving. The select button pulls up an area map, which again is quite useful, since some are rather large.

As I played on, I noticed just one other thing that irked me a little. The inventory is extremely limited. This alone wouldn\'t be so bad, but when exploring dungeons and you have to turn away lots of items because there\'s no more room, well, that\'s not right. I mean, what would all the other adventurers think?

When playing Dark Stone, be prepared to fight, fight, fight. This game can get rather challenging in the latter levels, and you don\'t want to get out-gunned, so to speak.

Another good feature that brings up the replay value is this. Since there are eight characters to choose from, depending on whom you pick, to some extent that will determine the quests and the story line. Also, when finishing Dark Stone, one can keep the same file data and start a new quest, even starting at a more advanced level. After beating the game, there are other goodies too, but find those without my help.

The look of Dark Stone is decent, but not mind blowing. It\'s done in the third-person fully 3D view, and the fully controllable camera is awesome, but there is some minor clipping and slowdown. Nothing too major at all, but to be fair I should mention it. Scattered throughout the game are some cinematics and those I thought were done nicely, the dragon rocks.

Aside from that, the spells and on screen action, looks very vibrant and alive. When advancing in levels try out all the different spells possible, some are quite the spectacle to behold. The interactive objects, like chests and breakable containers, all seem to fit in quite well.

The sound in Dark Stone was average. Nothing really seemed to jump out at me, but the moody music always seemed to fit the area. While exploring, one is met with all the ambient sounds and noises that you would expect in this mystical land, so in that sense the audio pays off. I just wish the musical score were a little more varied.

No voice acting here, the entire dialog is in text form. The only time you would get any voice-overs was in the videos, and those were short…but sweet.

FEATURES:
 
Each time you start a new game, the entire world regenerates. Every area, dungeon, item, creature and quest is different each time you play.

More than 30 types of weapons and 32 different spells; many with multiple variations

32 levels of closed environments and huge open spaces - dungeons, castles, caves, glades and villages.

8 playable characters (male or female) based on four castes - warrior, thief, magician or monk

Complete camera control - zoom in, zoom out and rotate 360 degrees

Simultaneous control of two characters

More than 100 evil creatures based on 30 character types

More than 200 enemies and interactive characters

Fully 3D characters and environments

OPTIONS:
 
• 1 Disk(s)
• CD Media
• 6 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
• Up to 1 Players (without Multi-tap)
• Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
• Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
• Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility

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Review SUMMARY and SCORE
Robert Gibson  "Dark Stone is a diamond in the rough. Not without it\'s problems, but with plenty of action to spare. With a solid control interface and plenty of quest-hacking adventuring to offer, the good outweigh the bad and the game is well worth looking at. If you pick this one up, be prepared to spend some time with it."
Graphics  15/20
Playability  45/50
Sound  7/10
Lastability  18/20
85%
This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
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REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:

OUR PLEDGE:

We promise that we have fully played 'Dark Stone' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.

SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)

00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.

60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.

70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.

80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.

90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:

It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.

A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.


READERS REVIEWS:

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PSone Review SUMMARY and SCORE
(digger)  "A Little Average Compared To Other Adventure/rpg's That Have Come Out At The Same Time, But It's Functional And Very Addictive.

The 3d View Is A Major Plus Allowing You Full View Of Your Third Person Perspective Charachter.

In General It's A Solid Game But Let's It's Self Down In A Number Of Areas Including Long Load Times, Standard Graphics And Unrealistic Situations Like Talking To A Farmer And His Wife While Being Attacked By Monsters. The Last Point Was Strange As The Friendly Charechters Weren't Attacked.

One Major Let Down For Me Was That You Can Only Play With One Character Unlike The Original Plan Of Controlling Two At The Same Time Like The Pc Version It Was Ported From.

All In All, It's A Fun Game With A Few Glaring Oversights."
Graphics  7/20
Playability  20/50
Sound  5/10
Lastability  7/20
39%
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PSone Review SUMMARY and SCORE
Rafael Arboleda  "Well The Game Was So Addictive That You'll Stay Awake The Whole Evening, On The Other Hand I Found It Strange That This Game Should Take Tons Of Loading Before Getting Into The Game...
The Story Is Fantastic And Some Clues Are Really Pain In The Ass But Seems To Be Challenging For Me... As I Played It For The Whole 2 Months Of Determination And Hardwork I Came With This Idea
Like Auldren Say's "the Dark Stone Shines!!!
"two Thumb's Up For The Console"...."
Graphics  11/20
Playability  50/50
Sound  8/10
Lastability  20/20
89%
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PSone Review SUMMARY and SCORE
Gar  "I've Played This Game About 30 Hours, And The Learning Curve Was Difficult To Gain A Hand At Controlling The Character. Don't Play This Without A Memory Cartridge, Mine Had To Be Cleaned And Before I Cold Save It, The Game Was Shut Off.

You Start The Game In A Village, Armed With Minimum Battle Gear. You Go Out Into The Different Lands Which In Map Mode (press Select For Map) Look Blockish And Do Kinda Resemble Zelda Land Maps, But That's Where The Resemblence Ends. This Game Functions More Like An Older 70's Tsr D&d-type Rpg In That There Are Not Just A Few Monotonous Routines, There Are Several.

One Burnt Routine Is The Constant Need Of Replenishing The Potion Manna, Which Recharges Player's Magic Strength. Whoever Scripted That Into The Game Should Have Been Conked On The Head By One Of These Stupid Orcs.

Yes, Lots Of The Standard Fantasy Character List On This One. Many Of Them Will Require 20 To 50 Hits Or More Depending On How Much Strength, Vitality, Dexterity Etc. Your Have Won Or Purchased For Your Character. I Find Myself Sometimes Running Around Different Levels Just Assasinating The Constantly Regenerating Bad Guys Just To Collect Their Weapons For Exchanging For Manna Or Other Strengths.

Most Of The Weapons You Couldn't Use First Off Without 40 Hours Or So Of Playing And Saving Up Gold And Buying A Huge Wad Of Magic Or Other Strength So This Cyclical "kill, Collect Gold/objects, Return To Town" Becomes Less Mundane Is What I'm Hoping For Before I Chuck This Game, Or Ebay It Off.

Can't Wait For A Real Rpg Game - Doom3 To Come Out Okay!"
Graphics  7/20
Playability  33/50
Sound  9/10
Lastability  7/20
56%
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