Review by Archmonk Iga

Reviewed: 02/08/06

Roni Deutch may settle your tax debts for $20, but this is the better deal.

You really should thank Majesco. They've brought out some pretty original games in 2005, and Phantom Dust is no exception. I bought it. I played it. I loved it. You do the same.

When you look at the box art, you will immediately know that this game will be... well, not realistic. And it's not. It's about strange powers that people have after some sort of apocalypse, which is pretty cool. Plus it's only twenty dollars! TWENTY DOLLARS! Move over, Roni Deutch! The booklet does a decent job of explaining the game, but you really won't understand it until you actually begin to play.

Alright, so you're a silent dude, with his pal Edgar, and you are awakened from a weird coffin. You can't remember anything, and neither can anyone else, except for "Ruins," which is the place that is your goal throughout the whole game. The humans took shelter, and the Espers can occasionally go out to discover new things about the world they live in. There are many characters, each with their own complicated personal stories. Some of them are interesting, like the protagonist's/Edgar's/Freia's. Some characters annoyed the hell out of me, especially Tsubutaki. That woman needs to cheer up or shut up. One of the two.

As you get more into the protagonist's story, you will probably get more and more confused. Once you understand it, however, you may come to think that the way the story was portrayed was just a complicated cover-up for its half-decentness. The ending is satisfying, though.
STORY: 6/10

Okay man, just look at screenshots. The graphics are amazing. The characters are all totally detailed, the environments fit the game's tone and look amazing, and the different powers look very nice. When an FMV occurs, it may even take a second for you to realize that it actually is an FMV, because the in-game graphics are so spectacular. I want to lick these graphics, and you will too.

First, let's talk about the voices. They are very well-done. I do kind of wish that we had the option to change their English voices to Japanese, especially because I hate listening to English and reading what they're saying at the same time. What's the point of subtitles if you already know what they're saying? Plus the Japanese language is beautiful anyway.

Next are the sound effects. The protagonist will run, and you'll hear some very detailed footstepping sounds... and they're very loud. Some of you may get pissed off after awhile, but they didn't bother me. Umm... other than the footsteps are the different powers' sounds, and they sound fitting enough.

Lastly, the music. Wow. I loved how they redid many musical classics, most notably "Carmen" and "Moonlight Sonata." They sound beautiful. Even some of the stages have classical pieces thrown into them, and they really did this well. The music that comes with this game, while not really original, will probably make you go "hey, that's awesome!" And it is. You can also put custom soundtracks into the various stages in the game, though only one song per stage (so choose longer songs). Very cool. So, added up the sound is overall very nicely done.
SOUND: 8.5/10

Oh man, this will be a novel right here. The gameplay is sooo deep in this game, yet it's sooo easy to pick up with the tutorials. Okay, let me just take a warm-up lap...........................Alright, thanks.

Well, many people call this a "card" game. I don't get that. Let me know how it's a card game. Here's MY gameplay shindig: You are underground. While underground you can talk to friends, get missions, buy abilities, and fill up your arsenal. Your bought/found abilities are what you use to fill up your arsenals, though you can only put a (very) limited amount of types of powers in each arsenal, and there are 30 slots. Confused? See? I told you it requires playtime to understand! This adds some crazy strategizing. You then choose a certain arsenal to take into the location of your next battle.

Okay... In battle, you have three orbs at your disposal, which will reappear after awhile once you take their power/aura particle. You also start with four orbs already. Each orb is assigned a letter-button on your Xbox controller. Isn't this simple?! Heh, that was sarcasm. However, you need aura particles to use your powers, which appear as orbs. Once you get enough aura particles, you will be able to use certain powers (attacks, shields, environmental changes, etc.).

So, you can only have four powers at a time. Once you go up to an orb and take it (with a letter-button), it will replace the one you had before, adding even more strategy.

There are TONS of different powers that you can acquire in many different ways (shopping, rewards, Xbox Live). They are all fun to watch and use, but there are some that will definitely be more useful than others. Not one battle will be similar in your playtime of Phantom Dust. Various is a good adjective for this game. You will get engrossed like never before for this game. Seriously, you don't understand. There are so many ways to do battle! You can be defensive, and fill your arsenal with mostly shield powers, or be offensive and fill it up with attack powers. You can be a total jerk, and fill your arsenal with skill-reducing powers to make your opponent suffer like hell. SO much depth, SO much strategy, SO much variety. Amazing and, more importantly, fun.

You can play this game with another person next to you, or you can play on Live. Two-player might be hard to pull off, especially with the split-screen. Live is definitely fun, though it might take awhile to actually find someone to play with (damn Halo fans!).

Replay Value:
This will last you along time whether you have Live or not. You will occasionally want to go back and play some missions over again on single player, but Live will make it last even longer. So ja, it will last.

It's beautiful! You will love looking at it, love hearing it for the most part (especially with custom soundtracks), and you will LA LA LOVE playing it! Whether you think it's like a card game or not, it's hella fun. Buy it, and smack Roni Deutch in the face while you're at it.

Thanks for reading =)

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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