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Adam (Dead Regime) Ingle January 30, 2001 Review Feedback

Oni

Over the many years that Bungie has been creating games for both the Mac and PC, they’ve become somewhat of a legend in the same sense that Blizzard is legendary. Bungie has an uncanny dedication to breaking molds and creating them as well. From the cult following of the Macintosh Marathon series (which was equivalent to Doom for the Mac), to the unwavering support of the not even close to being released Halo, Bungie is one of those few companies that just doesn’t seem to be able to do any wrong. Oni both carries on that tradition, and also breaks it. It’s got to be one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in a very long time, yet it suffers from some pretty serious design flaws.

The year is 2023, and the world has been consumed by poisonous gases that can only be combated through the use of Atmospheric Control Stations. Traveling outside these controlled regions is certain death for anyone. Being struck in such confines has made the world a dark and dangerous place, and no place is as dangerous as Neo Japan. You play the role of recent TCTF initiate Konoko, a member of the special police force that tries to keep the world in some semblance of order. On the other side of the law is The Syndicate who are everything a brutal Asian triad is rumored to be. They’re ruthless, well equipped, and outnumber you more than imaginable. As Konoko you shoot, kick, and flip your way through the beautiful 3D world utilizing a 3rd person perspective in a game that puts straight action and hand-to-hand combat in a giant blender, creating one giant Oni Margarita.

Something that has bothered me in other reviews of Oni that I’ve read is that most of them flat out say there is no way to customize controls. While I’ll admit that customizing them is exceedingly difficult, and I wasn’t able to get them exactly the way I wanted, there is a way to do it. Unlike what you might expect, there is no in game control customization. Instead, to change the mapped keys you have to manually edit a configuration file in the Oni directory. The only bad thing about this is that there’s no telling how keys are named for the game to recognize them as valid entries. For example, when I play a 3D game I don’t use the standard WASD control but instead use the number/arrow pad on the right of my keyboard as this has a nice cluster of keys in rows and I can easily map jump, duck, strafes, and activation keys all close together. Trying to map the configuration file for just such a setup proved to be too much for me. I tried naming the number pad 8/Up key as Numpad_8, 8, Up, and so on with no success. Eventually I gave up and just got accustomed to the default. Now this doesn’t excuse the lack of customization, but it seems painfully obvious that nearly every other reviewer just didn’t read the Readme file. After getting even further into the game and becoming accustomed to the keys, I still had quite a learning curve up against me as I was trying to complete various combo’s. I’ll admit right now that I sucked at Mortal Kombat, but that didn’t stop me from playing because I still enjoyed it. Amazingly enough I became quite good at Oni as I progressed and began kicking a lot of ass.

Since I’m starting with the flaws of the game I might as well continue on to the next one; clipping. Clipping comes in two forms in Oni. Standard objects going through other objects, and the camera going through other objects. In a 3rd person game it’s hard not to either get proximity problems or clipping and Bungie decided that when the camera was in an obstructed place that it would make those objects transparent and allow you to continue as normal. While this solves the problem with only a minor amount of annoyance from semi-translucent steel walls, it opens up a new realm of being disappointed at certain elements because you can see into the next room, next floor, our just outside of a door and can unfairly time attacks or know that there’s a waiting enemy around the corner; this allows you to get them before they even have a chance, taking away from the surprise factor. Then standard clipping rears its anti-aliased head and detracts from the realism of the world. Nothing screams realism like killing a soldier and have him hang halfway through a wall, then you go outside and down some steps and what do you see? The other half of the soldier hanging halfway out of a wall.

The final serious flaw is the lack of a save game feature. You’d think after various complaints concerning games like Aliens Versus Predator that people would shy away from those predefined Saved Game points or those hideous save game gems in Daikatana. Despite that, Bungie decided to go with a save game feature that is predetermined by making it to certain segments of the level. This can be incredibly annoying and has gotten to me bad enough on many occasions that I just had to leave the game alone for a bit. In one particularly difficult segment I was taking out around 20 people, most of which were armed and scattered around various areas of a multi-leveled building, and then progressing to a large mutli-leveled area filled with green acid. I died several times only to be thrown back to the very beginning and have to go through it all over again. It’s things like this and the lack of customization that troubles me into thinking Oni was pushed a little too hard out the developers door before it was ready to leave.

All these gripes aside, Oni remains an intoxicating game with excessive doses of action, some decent anime story telling, and much fist throwing and round kicking. With the heavy emphasis on close combat, Bungie came up with a lot of really cool moves, not only for Konoko but for the opponents you face in the game. Moves were a dash of Mortal Kombat kung fu and Street Fighter mysticism. I was quite surprised to hear characters chanting out moves in the same manner a character from Street Fighter might. Broad shouldered and well armored guys would run and go into a roll screaming “Cannon Ball,” and nimble women would pull off a barrage of hits chanting “10 Shadow Punch!” Unlike many games you are not given access to all moves at once. As you progress through the game you “learn” new, more complex, and more powerful hits. While you start out with simple combos like hitting punch three times repeatedly it soon turns into combos that require great timing and button pushing such as a dangerous Kick, Kick, Forward+Kick move that I found very difficult to execute, along with various other upper level moves. If you can successfully pull the moves of you are treated to an attack worth the effort, although not always pulled off at the right time.

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SYSTEM REQS
266 MHZ
64 MB RAM
Open GL compatible 3D Card
DX sound
8x CD-ROM min
600 MB HDD

STATS
Concept
95
Gameplay
95
Graphics
90
Sound
100
Technical
85
Overall
93

SOFTWARE

Genre:
Action

Release Date:
Available

Publisher:
Gathering of Developers

Developer:
Bungie

SCREENSHOTS


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