Galerians: ASH Review
With the foothold that the PS2 has attained in America, many publishers have been bringing games out domestically from Japan that'd be an interesting gamble, Mr. Mosquito, Gitaroo man, Mad Maestro, and a few other games come to mind. Sammy, along with Guilty Gear X2 has brought over a game called Galerians: ASH as well. ASH is a sequel to Galerians, a game similar to Resident Evil but with a more sci-fi element on the Playstation. This is also quite evident at the start of the game in which you get a flashback to the events of Galerians as a recap. The game sounds quite promising but comes quite far from it.
As mentioned above, the game starts with a recap of the events of Galerians in which Dorothy, an artificial intelligence created to automate Michelangelo City creates a breed of humans with extraordinary psychic powers called Galerians for her to be mother and god to. ASH deals with the events that occur six years after the first game. The game's story is somewhat interesting to an extent but at the same time it felt just as derivative. The story itself is perhaps one of the better aspects of the game.
ASH's graphics are certainly not the best the PS2 has to offer but nor is it the absolute worst. The environments in the game are in general, quite large. Although this is a nice fact, the environments have little in terms of objects and items within the space of the environments outside of the enemies and the occasional object in most combat areas. It makes the game feel quite empty. The characters are fairly cut and dry in terms of modeling and animation. In fact, the character modeling in the game reminds me of early PS2 games with very rounded bodies and often slightly off-beat proportions. It's certainly not up to snuff with current game graphics. On the other hand, the game's attack effects are very nice.
Audibly, the game isn't even close to good. Although, the voice acting presented in the game is fairly decent surprisingly, it's still rather bad especially in comparison to other recent dub attempts such as Xenosaga, for example. Sound effects throughout the game are fairly standard. The game's music is perhaps the worst aspect of the audio. The music is a really awful mix that caused me to fall asleep several times during my playtime with the game and ruined any mood that the game tried to setup.
The game itself is touted as an action game and indeed, the basic combat system for the game is action orientated. Combat revolves around the usage of psychic powers by Rion, the lead character. He's able to use different attacks by injecting himself with substances that are retained in his bottom. This acts a meter that drains as you use and charge attacks. When you're out of the bar, you have to "inject" yourself with more of the substance. The catch with this though is that the more you use your attacks, the more your AP meter goes up. When your AP meter maxes out, Rion has a "mental breakdown" in which has some adverse affects and some slightly positive effects. This adds an element to the gameplay which is interesting because you're forced to manage the character's vital signs even more than other action games in the middle of combat. Items are dropped by enemies which improve your stats and give you items to help you along the way.
The base idea behind the combat system is solid, the problem is that combat feels disjointed. When attacking, your character is forced to charge up psychic attacks. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem but it's the fact that you have to stop and charge attacks to use them. This breaks up the flow of combat considerably. So rather than having the game move fluidly in and out of combat like Devil May Cry 2, the game ends up feeling like a chore because it feels like each action is done separately. The camera also is a rather annoying part of the game as most cameras in action games are. It's a bit spazzy and often is rather troublesome in the way when you want to see something. Thankfully, the game has a lock-on system to auto-target enemies.
Although Sammy provides a solid localization of Galerians: ASH, the game itself is a game ridden with flaws. Mediocre sound with average graphics coupled with a combat system that lacks fluidity brings the game down. While the story is a bit interesting, the game is, at best, worth a rental.
3/14/2003 Anton Cao