Daikatana Hands-On

Only the intense disappointment surrounding the already-released PC version of Daikatana quells the spirit of frustration conjured up by this console shooter.

Daikatana has been a mainstay in the gaming press for several years following Ion Storm's claims that the game would revolutionize the first-person shooter genre. RPG-influenced character building is seldom part of a shooter's game design. If Daikatana is any indication of things to come, then maybe those waters are best left uncharted.

As the game begins, Hiro Miyamoto is presented with the challenge of finding and returning the Daikatana - a mythological sword that once wiped out entire armies while in the hands of just one man. It seems that the mighty power of this magical blade is too strong to fall into the wrong hands; thus, the fate of the world falls squarely upon Hiro's shoulders. After the crude and irksome real-time cinema ends, it gets even worse. It's here that players realize why this game took so long to come to market and why it's available as a rental only. It just plain stinks.

The first thing players will notice is the blur. Nintendo 64 owners have learned to deal with blurring problems over the years, but Daikatana goes far beyond the call of duty. The textures are so muddled and indiscernible that it all becomes a monochromatic mess. While the game has an optional high-resolution mode (if players have the Expansion Pak), the difference is so minute that most will not even bother with it. Once a player's eyes adjust, he or she will notice that the worlds that Ion Storm has constructed are bland and sparse. Additionally, fogging is used in any area that allows a field of vision farther than 20 virtual feet, and when multiple enemies appear (which is rare), the game slows down significantly. This is especially frustrating, considering Hiro moves far too slow in the first place.

Some of these problems could be excused if Daikatana's gameplay were tight, but again, this is not the case. The hit detection is atrocious. Players may aim several feet away from the enemy and still drop him. The enemy AI is borderline moronic, as most of them just simply run toward players until either they or the players die. The animation routines used for the enemies are choppy and awkward, and they rarely stray from the usual routine of falling backward after being shot. The touted PG elements could be removed from the game, and no one would even notice. Even after powering Hiro up to half speed, there was no appreciable difference. The sidekick system has been removed from the PC version, and considering its previous ice-cold reception, Ion Storm has made at least one wise decision. The multiplayer consists of just two modes: deathmatch and a boring gem-collecting configuration.

On the somewhat positive side, the Turok-inspired control is fairly solid, though unintuitive at times. Additionally, boring cinemas that move along the hole-filled plot are plentiful. The sound is nice and clear, but the synth-pop music will have players covering their ears. Thankfully, the volume can be turned down.

If you're looking for a decent first-person shooter to rent, Daikatana appears not to be it. While, in theory, this game had excellent potential, the execution is so poor that it's all the more frustrating.

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