February 19, 2001
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 Overall Score: *86*ESRB Rating: Teen (T)

Oni [Sony Playstation 2] 

by Rockstar Games  Reviewed by: Mike David  


The world is a miserable place to live.  There is only one government, the masses live in fear of "Big Brother," and the last two superpowers are going at it with no real care for human life. In this corner, the TCTF (Technology Crimes Task Force), the World Coalition Government's watchdog whose sole purpose is to keep the population under its thumb; a task they accomplish by using the propaganda that the abuse of technology is bad and that the TCTF is the only thing protecting the populace from all forms of crime. Too bad they operate like a Gestapo in their investigations. 

In the other corner we have The Syndicate, an evil only slightly worse since they provide the desperate and downtrodden with all the weapons and explosives they need to kill one another. The syndicate is headed by Boss Muro, a man who eliminated all other crime kingpins to make himself the number one. With him running the show, crime has gotten worse and an epic showdown of biblical proportions looms on the horizon.

As Konoko, a rookie agent for the TCTF, you have been charged with the bone breaking task of infiltrating The Syndicate, figuring out their evil intentions, and taking them down. Along the way expect conspiracies, betrayal, and a lot of action. Gun blazing, hip throwing, jaw breaking action.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

First off, I want to say that being a fan of Anime (Japanese Animation) or Manga is going to be a plus for you when playing this game. Many elements that are present in those mediums are implemented here: ultraviolence, martial arts action, two fisted gun toting, and of course doe-eyed characters. Fans will also appreciate the fully animated intro sequence.

 The game is played 3/4 view with a familiar feel to those who have played Tomb Raider, Fear Effect or Soul Reaver. As far as the controls go Screenshotthough... oh, boy. Let me say that the control configuration is incredibly difficult as every button is used frequently including the never used L3 and R3 buttons. In addition, instead of the camera constantly following behind Konoko, you must steer it with the right analog stick while controlling Konoko's movements with the direction pad. Yes, this can get difficult, especially when fighting multiple enemies from all different sides. However, once you do become prolific with the control interface, you are treated to some incredibly cool action sequences as Konoko punches one bad guy in the face, uses him as a springboard, spinkicks another bad guy in the chest and then draws her mercury bow and freezes a third bad guy who heard the commotion from the next room. It takes a bit to get used to, but toughing it out is worth it. Yes, you control the action and unless you don't enjoy Jackie Chan fight sequences you will not find this game to be any fun.

As the game progresses, Konoko has to complete various missions such as infiltrating corrupt corporations, shutting down a supercomputer that achieved self awareness, and fighting a bevy of original assassins in climactic movie style. The characters, both good and bad, are all unique and bring a real feel to the game. Personally, I liked watching the cut sequences showing cool looking assassins talking about their nefarious deeds and how they are going to kill Konoko.

During the various missions, Konoko is constantly being monitored by her android assistant Shinatama. Shinatama advises her of any changes in the mission and reports Konoko's status to Commander Griffin. Griffin, being the Regional Commander of the TCTF, is constantly barking out orders to TCTF personnel but keeps an exaggerated interest in Konoko who may or may not be an advanced form of human/android hybrid. Of course Konoko must deal with her Oni which means demons in Japanese, proving that this game has several layers of content to it, making it much more then a straight-up action game.

Graphics & Audio

Like I said before, if you enjoy Anime, you will think Oni is the stuff. The graphics look good and the action occurs at a breakneck speed. I like Anime and thought that this game was pure eye candy. The architectural designs of the buildings in the game were done by modern architects, giving the game a Blade Runner or Total Recall ambiance.

ScreenshotThe audio came through my surround system like an action movie and the voice acting was done better than most. This game looks and sounds top-notch. Rockstar Games and Bungie teamed up to make a worthwhile videogame experience. 

Bottom Line

If you can tough it out through the interface learning period you will be happy with this game. Plenty of action, depth, and original characters mark this as a PS2 winner. Cool scenarios with neat looking locations coupled with the fact that it feels like you're playing a movie should make this game a staple in an otherwise lacking PS2 library. Cool fun.

Review Posted On 16 February 2001.

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