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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Sammy Studios
GENRE: Adventure
February 04, 2003
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on April 30, 2003

Full Review: Take 1 part Resident Evil, add a pinch of Silent Hill, a dash of The Matrix and a dose of RPG. The Result - What the hell did I just play?

The year is 2528. Humans are at war with an evolved technology of humanoids called Galerians. Created by a sentient computer named Dorothy, the Galerians have one objective; the annihilation of the human race. Using a high level of radiation to pollute the air, the Galerians are close to their goal. Rion, a young man with highly developed psychic powers was able to defeat Dorothy 6 years ago, but now her followers are trying to revive her. The only one able to stop them is Rion. Sounds somewhat intriguing thus far right? Yeah, well, don't get too excited, Galerians: Ash has a great many flaws within.

Galerians: Ash is the sequel to the original PSX game Galerians. Ash combines sci-fi scenery with a detailed and twisting story, and then wraps it all up with freaky enemies and characters. Although it's primarily a survival horror game, Ash also has traces of an RPG in its battle system. Developer Enterbrain has cooked up one odd concoction with all of these different gameplay aspects, yet unfortunately I think they forgot that this product actually had to be sold when it was completed.

As you begin on your journey to take down the last of the remaining Galerians, you'll see that Ash is a bit different than your average survival horror game. Instead of using your average pistols and shotgun to blow away zombie-dogs, Rion relies on his highly developed psychic sense as weaponry. Using an array of different PPECs (Psychic Power Enhancement Chemicals), Rion can unleash a number of different attacks to take down his foes. Some attacks are good for quickly taking down one enemy at a time, while others are better for slowly taking down a swarm of enemies. When your psychic power has been used up for a specific attack, Rion can inject a liquid into his neck which replenishes his power.

What makes the combat system relevant to an RPG is that enemies are given hit points. When locked on to an enemy (yes, Ash utilizes Zelda's lock on battling system), you can view the enemies remaining hit points. When the points have been depleted, the enemy of course dies. Fallen enemies leave behind items which can be used to restore your own HP, psychic powers, and other stats. However, it's not the idea behind the battle system which makes it bad, it's the execution. When you defeat an enemy, you'll usually find that another appears out of nowhere to take its place. Enemies can keep appearing like this for up to 10 minutes, and battling so many enemies straight gets extremely repetitive and boring. Using Rion's psychic powers gets repetitive once you've used them for a good period of time as well.

Similar to the battle system, the overall premise to the entire gameplay is quite boring. Throughout the whole game, the story usually makes you do certain things before you can progress. It basically ends up telling you to go here, get this, come back here, use this, go back here, get something else, come back here, etc. There's not much in the way of side-quests or missions, so the entire game is laid out in front of you.

Graphically, Galerians: Ash has some very well done 3D environments and locations, with some decent character models tacked on. However, there's not too much detail within, as just about every location you visit is either black or gray. Even enemies and characters lack color, as most of them are very plain and dull.

On the back of the case of Galerians, it proudly points out that the game features over 60 minutes of high quality CG cutscenes. This is no lie. The CG cutscenes within Ash are very well executed, moving and flowing very smoothly. Most of the cutscenes are boring, but at least they're well done boring scenes.

If you really want to set the tone for creepiness in a survival horror game, scary background music and sound effects are a must. The Resident Evil and Silent Hill series have this down pat. Galerians: Ash does not. Most of the time the background music is more annoying than creepy, and at times can even be irritating. For the most part, I turned the sound completely off during Ash and just played some Linkin Park. The score for sound would be a 10 if I could count that, but unfortunately, I can't.

The voice acting in Ash doesn't get much better. Since the theme is more of a high-tech setting in the future, some characters talk in voices that sound like computers. Usually this results in a pretty cool effect, but in Ash it sounds like the characters are underwater. Now you have no idea what the character just said, and he probably just told you were to find a specific item or where to go next. Now it's up to you to blindly walk around looking for what to do. Have fun.

If you can manage to sit yourself down and actually play through the entire game, Ash offers a pretty long quest. Like I said, this is only if you can get yourself to play through the entire thing. As for playing through it a second time, I honestly don't see how it's possible. If you attempt to go through it a second time, don't blame me if you cause yourself physical harm or turn to insanity.

Bottom Line
If you're one of the biggest fans of the original Galerians fans on the planet, and absolutely have to know what happens in the series, try giving Ash a rental. If you're not a big fan of survival horror games, or are just a casual gamer, you're going to want to run away from Ash like you would rabid hyenas that have been lit on fire and desperately want to chew off your foot. For everyone else, and this includes big fans of survival horror and moderate fans of Galerians, your best bet is to just stay away. You know who you are.

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