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Ecco The Dolphin PS2 PlayStation2 Playstation 2 PStwo

Ecco The Dolphin

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Review of Ecco The Dolphin

“Dolphins and mankind lived in peace for centuries, respecting and admiring each other from afar. When humans finally reached the intelligence level of the dolphins, a human-dolphin civilization was born. They lived in harmony and prosperity until a signal compelled them to leave Earth and move into the vast unknown. Their wise and powerful protector, the Guardian, stayed behind with a handful of dolphins and humans to keep watch over the planet but the Foe has now polluted the world and, as Ecco, you must restore the damage.”

I find it a little difficult to comprehend a world at war with an alien race, let alone imagine that the sole savior to mankind (and fishkind?) might possibly be a dolphin. Perhaps if the beaky mammal could talk and react in a similar fashion to Flipper (a once popular kid’s TV show) then this strange plot may be feasible. I suppose the unimaginable ‘can’ happen because barely a year ago who on earth would have thought that a Sony console would host a title developed by then archrival Sega?

Ecco The Dolphin; Defender of the Earth is a 3D underwater adventure where the player controls the actions of the sea mammal as he/she/it sets upon a quest to save the watery world. There are many different sea creatures to interact with - from an octopus, dolphins, whales, and schools of fish in the games 34 unique levels littered with themes, puzzles, and mazes.

Ecco begins this fishy tale in an environment below the sea where the ‘go-anywhere’ theme is temporarily restricted due to tidal currents. This allows for a brief ‘free-swim period’ offering a chance to become slightly more accustomed to the control over the dolphin and this is achieved through playing simple games with other mammals, such as ‘fetch the fish’. Very quickly you learn how to interact with other creatures using sonar, leap high into the air to recharge your oxygen supply, charge attack, swim backwards, tailwalk and turn quickly.

Swimming involves a regular tapping of the X button (the faster you tap… the quicker Ecco moves), so make good use of this practice session in preparation for those many occasions when Ecco has a great white shark, or worse still a moray eel sniffing at his tail (imagine running the 100 metres in Track and Field…). Should injury occur then health may be replenished by eating passing fish. However this is not as simple as it first sounds because some creatures are nourishing and increase the health bar, while others are poisonous and therefore reduce it. By the time this game reaches its end you should be a regular ‘Jacques Coustau’.

Gameplay involves a great deal of interacting with other creatures and laborious searching for openings both in and out of the water as Ecco can leap out of the ocean, over a low land mass and into an adjoining pool. Just like fellow man, creatures rarely give anything away for nothing therefore a series of tasks must be completed before information, clues or help is offered. This involves a wide selection of tasks ranging from taking part in a race to clearing the zone of killer sharks.

Both sound effects and musical soundtrack are of the highest quality and genuinely offer a great deal to the overall ambience of Defender of the Future.

The underwater graphics are also mighty impressive, but I still don’t understand why the re-draw distance is so minimal. What you get is vast areas of deep-blue ocean in which to investigate and each location is crammed with moving marine life, sea plants and shoal upon shoal of multicolored fish (from the tropical variety to your plain old goldfish). Upon careful inspection turtles shuffle along the seabed, jellyfish bob along with the current and sharks patrol with military precision.

On the negative side the misty background makes it almost impossible to visually navigate with any purpose therefore much time is lost trying to work out where to go next and how the heck you get there. Maybe if the clues hadn’t been so subtle the pace of the game wouldn’t have resembled that of chess, although the inclusion of a miniature map icon and the ‘nav aid’ button helps push things on a little.

Overall, Ecco The Dolphin looks good, sounds great and should be enjoyable to those who enjoy spending hour upon hour at the local aquarium.

OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Ecco The Dolphin' 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.

This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation


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ECCO THE DOLPHIN

70/100

Review Summary:

"I must admit that the life of a dolphin is pretty boring and the adventures of Ecco do little to persuade me into thinking otherwise. I agree the murky depths of the ocean is a fascinating environment, but having flipped my tail more than a few hundred times simply looking for a hidden exit out of an enclosed bay, the effect quickly wares off.

In all honesty I prefer saving mankind armed with a BFG rather than a beak-snouted mammal, but then this eco-friendly way may be something worth teaching our kids… or maybe not."

Score Breakdown:

Graphics  12/20
Playability  32/50
Sound  9/10
Lastability  17/20

Our Recommendation:

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

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ECCO THE DOLPHIN

Ecco The Dolphin was created by Sega and is a Strategy game.

ECCO THE DOLPHIN FEATURES:

Breakthrough high-res 3D graphics with vibrant lighting effects.

Ambient soundtrack sets the stage for underwater adventure.

Award-winning science-fiction author David Brin adds his talent to the creative team.

Meticulously rendered ocean environment adapted from countless videos, photographs, and other resources.

Advanced AI implemented on enemies to keep players on their toes.

Unique themed worlds, each with multiple environments.

New Storyline. Award-winning science fiction author David Brin brings new dimension to the Ecco plot with a science fiction storyline.

34 worlds. These underwater adventures are all unique with different themes and puzzles.

4 languages. Ecco has been a worldwide sensation! Play the game in English, German, French, or Spanish.

Ambient Soundtrack. British composer Tim Follin has produced a masterful compilation of ambient, mystical music. It both soothes and inspires.

Camera angles. View Ecco from several different angles. Trailer, remote, above water, side/backward, and switching between cameras.

ECCO THE DOLPHIN OPTIONS:

• DVD Media
• 89 KBytes required on Memory card per save (min)
• Uses Dual Shock2 Pad Buttons
• Uses Dual Shock2 Pad Analog Sticks
• Uses Dual Shock2 Pad Vibration facility

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