Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bursts Of Blue And Other Curiosities

As someone who's heard an awful lot about the Phantasy Star Online series, but never actually played any of the games, I figured it was my duty to try it out at least once. From now until June 9th, you too can try out the Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst Open Beta.

500MB is quite a hefty download, but considering Blue Burst includes PSO Episodes I and II right out of the proverbial box, it's seems to be worth it. I'll tell you, today's world of in-game tutorials being considered a near-necessity has softened me, more so than I originally thought it had. Starting up Blue Burst for the first time, once I got past the character creation screen I was quite hopeless. The Ship/Block thing I was used too, as it's analogous to Monster Hunter's Land/Area/Town system for separating players into more server friendly portions. After that, I could barely move my character around the screen. I actually had to log out and, gasp, read the manual.

I can definitely see Monster Hunter's roots firmly planted in the Phantasy Star Online series. That alone allowed me to have a vague idea of what I should be doing without having to log out yet again for another quick glance at the manual. Though, for now, I still prefer MH's signature brand of co-op boss fights, I can certainly see why PSO has left so many people with night sweats whenever unable to get their fix. I'm assuming that the somewhat simplistic(albeit still pretty) environments are an artifact from the series' Dreamcast roots, as are the comparatively low system requirements. The game still looks good, especially for what it is, and most people don't seem to be into PSO simply for the graphics. I'm not going to tell you what the rest of the game is about, since most people already know. I will tell you this: While I'll definitely not be paying a monthly fee for the privilege of playing Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst, I will be playing the beta until forced to stop.

So, E3 has shown us quite a few pretties this year hasn't it? The videos for Killzone 2 and Killing Day on the PS3 were nothing short of amazing if, indeed, these were straight gameplay videos we were looking at. For current systems, there were still quite a few really good looking games coming out, too. What really mystified me was the news on the upcoming SOCOM 3. 32 players online, vehicles, maps with sub-sections for smaller player groups, and a message from Zipper basically saying "Yeah, the lag's gonna suck. There's nothing we can do about that." Fascinating.

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