Thursday, October 2, 2008

Review: Crimson Tears (PS2)

Found: Gamestop 9.99 and under bin
Cost: $5.99, used a 20% off coupon from the Gamestop weekly email newsletter
Publisher: Capcom
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Rating: Teen, for Suggestive Themes and Violence


What we have here is another Hack-and-Slash dungeon crawler set in a futuristic Tokyo, Japan. I find the storyline rather lacking; then again, what does a dungeon crawler need with a story, anyway? The game centers around three androids, Amber, Kadie, and Tokio. Each one has specific weapon proficiencies, strengths, and weaknesses. The game takes a cel shading approach to graphics, reminiscent of Jet Set Radio(Jet Grind Radio in the USA). Dungeons are created randomly from set series of rooms, so no two dungeons are alike. I've entered the first dungeon multiple times and never saw much of a pattern in floor design. At the final floor of the dungeon is the boss. There are exceptions to this, such as the R&D facility, which has several mini-bosses. Characters level up, even if they don't enter the dungeons.

There's a rather unique rescue system implemented in this game. If a character runs out of HP, another character is sent in to rescue the first character. Adding to the tension is the time limit applied to the rescue, and you don't get to go stock up on recovery items before you go in. You get a massive EXP bonus if you succeed in rescuing the KO'd character. if you fail, both characters take time to rest before they can be used again. If you do wind up failing, you lose all items in your inventory, which makes surviving all the more imperative.

The overheat mode is rather unique in this one. Characters have abilities that increase an overheat gauge, called the MT gauge, whatever that means. When the gauge maxes, the screen gets this red hue; movement speed and attack power increase, and you can one-hit kill most monsters. The downside to this, your defense drops, and you steadily lose HP while it happens. Have energy drinks on hand for your char if you don't want to have to stage a rescue. I wish the MT gauge would gradually decrease on its own. I also noticed that picking up an auto-use item increases your MT, even though it healed my health. What's up with that?

Weapons grow stronger the more you use them, and it pays to get your weapons stronger for boss battles. Your weapons also have to be repaired every so often as well, or they break and you lose the item entirely. Not fun when that happens in the middle of a boss battle. Combining weapons can yield stronger or rarer versions using components you pick up in the dungeons. Some of the components fit right into the cyber-punk style of the game, others leave you scratching your head wondering what purpose they have in this universe.

As you gain wealth, you can donate money to the governor of Tokyo, who uses the money to renovate the city. The nice part about this is that the shops will have more variety in what they sell. better weapons, more potent healing items, you get the idea.

All of the cutscenes have Voice Actors talking out the parts. I really wish they included subtitles, because there are moments I don't want to listen to the people talking. Kadie's VA annoys me to no end. There are other moments where it's difficult to understand what the character is saying, save for cranking up the volume to deafening levels.

Random dungeons leave for high replay value
lots of customization options
Overheat mode a rather fresh look at "overdrive" type powers

Voice acting seems forced at times
No subtitles during cutscenes
Difficult at times to understand conversations
MT gauge doesn't decrease . . . why?
Story absolutely sucks. If you want to play one of them interactive movie types, this ain't it.
Potential con: if you hate anime, you'll probably hate the graphics.

The Verdict:
It's a fun romp every once in a while, and the replay value is relatively high. I say yes, this is worth the $5.99 at Gamestop.

Parent's notes:

This game is a hack-and-slash, which should tell you pretty much everything about what this game's about. This game has you blowing up robots, killing mutants, zombies, and humanoid soldiers. There is no blood in this game, though the game's premise by itself is rather violent. The game's two female characters also wear scant clothing, which most older teenage males won't have a problem with, much to the opposite opinion of the parent. Recommend avoiding this game for anyone under the age of 13 or so, depending on maturity level of the child, of course. Were I the parent of a child, I would likely avoid this one until age 14 or 15 on the conservative side, 11 or 12 on the liberal.

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