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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

GOD Games

 

Developer

Bungie

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2001

 

 

- Loads of cool moves

- Fluid animation

- Like playing the lead role in an Anime movie

- Easy control

- Fun for the most part

 

 

- Save points instead of "save anywhere"

- AI is too smart sometimes

- Keyboard setup is a hassle

- Some incredibly hard levels

- Running around trying to find the right console to open doors is tiresome

 

 

Review: MDK2: Armageddon (Playstation 2)

Review: Shinobi (Playstation 2)

 

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Oni

Score: 7.9 / 10

The gaming community has been waiting for Oni with anticipation. Finally, a game where the deadliest weapons available are your hands and feet, a game that combines anime and action games into a whole experience.

You take on the role of Konoko, a Ghost-in-the-Shell-type supercop. Konoko’s mission, of course, is to stop the bad guy, Boss Muro who runs an evil syndicate, and destroy anyone and anything that gets in the way. Standard anime stuff. Konoko must battle through such locations as an airport and a research facility that houses a "Deadly Brain."

 

oni-a.jpg (11388 bytes)         oni-b.jpg (13122 bytes)

Before I cover the combat, I’ll offload all the negative comments I have.

First, there is no way to modify the keyboard setup on the menu screen. In fact, the options on the menu screen are very limited, offering only the bare minimum – in the graphics option there’s the chance to change the screen resolution and nothing else. No optional boxes to uncheck to squeeze better framerates out of your old machine, which can be good if you like being able to just start playing. (To change the keyboard setup you must modify "key_config.txt" in the Oni directory. I had no problem with the default setting, so it may not bother many people.)

Second, there’s no way to save your game. This is insane! Each time you die you start from the last save point in the level, but more on that later. Some of the levels are huge, with a variety of nefarious life-ending challenges at the conclusion of each mission. It quickly grows tiresome to walk through a level only to misstep and land in a vat of acid when the end is in sight – over and over again. In place of a "save anywhere" function, there are save points. These points are invisible, so you never know when you’re going to cross one. Doing so with no ammo and hardly any life energy is a pain since when you do die, you will continue from that point with a distinct disadvantage since it saves how much energy and ammo you had. A highlighted point on the wall or floor to indicate a save point would have been useful. At least with that you would be able to choose whether or not to cross the save point or start again from the last point in an effort to reach the next point with some ammo and energy.

 

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Thirdly, the enemy AI never misses with projectile weapons. Playing against human opponents in games such as Counter-Strike has spoiled my sense of fairness. In Counter-Strike you can get the drop on people and have them wondering, "Where the hell did that come from?" as they crumple in a hail of machine gun fire. The enemy AI in Oni has no such problems – they know exactly where Konoko’s firing from and will not hesitate firing a 

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couple of shots at her before her shots even get to them. Firing a couple of shots then running like hell is the best method to avoid being hit by cheap shots. Then there’s the matter of enemies that suddenly appear behind Konoko, even when the area has been secured and there are no enemies in sight. For example, after clearing out all the security forces of one mission I entered a room that contained the last access terminal to open a three-lock door. When I hit the middle of the room another door opened and I was faced with another bad guy to dispose of. This happened a few times when Konoko was accessing a terminal. Getting hit the back is cheap! Other than these problems, the AI is fairly good – they’ll attack in groups, run for cover, etc.

Fourthly (and probably my biggest gripe), even with all the fighting going on Oni fills in the gaps with lots of "key" hunting. There are locked security doors everywhere! With some doors it’s a simple matter of accessing a nearby console. Other doors have three locks with the key terminals scattered throughout a level. It’s a tried and true method but it’s also old. There’s some promise shown early on with disabling the Deadly Brain even though it’s a modified jumping puzzle but it’s not found anywhere else. More innovation would have been welcomed.

Now that all the negative stuff has been pushed off the train, I can move to all the positive aspects.

The hand-to-hand combat is tons of fun and Oni’s strongest feature. Grabbing an enemy from behind and performing the infamous Back Breaker never gets old. In fact, there are so many moves to perform that none of them should get old. Even after several hours Konoko performed punches I’d never seen. Then there are the many combos and wrestling moves, which are all beautifully animated. The tutorial mission is very good at teaching the basics of control. A lot of recent games have implemented both mouse buttons into gameplay and Oni is no different. The right mouse button kicks and the left punches. Some of the moves are difficult to execute but with practice they can become second nature – and you’ll be able to kick ass more effectively. Konoko can also jump, roll, slide, flip, somersault, run and block enemy punches. New moves are "discovered" throughout the game. Some of the moves appear at random in your arsenal. Until each of these moves is "learned" you can’t utilize them, much like in Rare’s Banjo-Tooie. There are also projectile weapons at Konoko’s disposal, which vary greatly in their effectiveness. One weapon, the plasma rifle shoots a powerful energy ball in a straight line, while another, like the scram cannon shoots multiple hornet-like missiles that home in on nearby enemies. Using the scram cannon is useless at long range since the missiles spiral out on their own little errands – usually to explode against a wall and nowhere near an enemy target. But at closer range against a couple of enemies the results are far better. Konoko can carry only one weapon at a time and ammo is severely limited – even the bad guys have to reload. Using hand-to-hand combat should be used to conserve ammo for those really tough confrontations. And there are shield and cloak power-ups to help Konoko along, as well as medical hypos which help to keep her health meter up.

 

oni-c.jpg (13667 bytes)          oni-d.jpg (9929 bytes)

 

Oni’s graphics are consistent with an anime movie. The environments are very stark and empty punctuated with the occasional piece of high-tech equipment. As mentioned before, the animation is of high quality. The weapon effects are pretty good. Slow down is never a problem even while fighting off three goons and dodging sniper fire. There are some huge clipping problems – dead bad guys lie through walls – but nothing that cripples gameplay. Complementing the graphics is the soundtrack, which further draws you into the belief you’re playing the main character in an anime movie. It’s got a techno beat and it plays at specific moments to create more tension. The sound effects are nothing to scream about but they are good. The voice acting is good as well.

One of the funniest aspects of Oni are the NPCs. Konoko has very limited interaction with them, usually they just hand over a hypo or ammo cartridge and continue about their business. Some will shout, "Hey, over here!" then run up to you, just waiting for the chance to give you a hypo. Then there are the seemingly elite forces that are your backup team. Apparently stealth is not a concern for them since they often shout, "Hey, over here!" and wave their arms.

With all the good aspects that Oni has it’s amazing that the action can get a bit "samey." There’s a lot of "push this button, run there, beat up bad guy, push this button, run back, open door," which is too bad. If the "key" finding hadn’t been relied upon so much and you could save your game anywhere, Oni could have been a break out game – what Half-life was to first-person shooters – but as it stands, Oni is a fun, above average action game with tons of cool fighting moves.

- Omni

 

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