E3 2002: Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II impressions

We check on the GameCube version of Sonic Team's online RPG.

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Sonic Team's upcoming GameCube version of its Dreamcast hit Phantasy Star Online was playable on the E3 show floor, and we spent some time with the game to see how it's progressed since our 2807903last look at it. The demo gave us the option of playing a single- or multiplayer game with up to four players on one GameCube. We selected a single-player game and found ourselves in control of a ranger exploring one of the new levels in the game, which opened up in a beach area with a subtle but very cool water effect. We waded through an assortment of enemies, including variations on the lilies seen in the Dreamcast PSO and new enemies such as cloaked robots. Battling the cavalcade of enemies was still easy thanks to the simple layout and attack options.

Graphically, the game was looking very polished and a bit sharper, thanks to the time Sonic Team has spent optimizing the game code. The player character, the enemies, and the environment were extremely clean and featured a lot of subtle touches that were nice to see. For example, when running along the sand, you'll leave behind a trail of footprints. The graphics had a much more stable feel to them overall. The frame rate was solid and the animation was smooth. The game's camera still had the same issues the DC version's camera did, but PSO vets should have no problem getting used to it.

Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II is set to ship this fall for the GameCube. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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