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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Rockstar Games
GENRE: Action
January 30, 2001
 Written by Kyle Williams  on May 15, 2001

Full Review: Konoko can kick my butt any day!

About five years ago the gaming world was introduced to Lara Croft, a buxom British Tomb Raider, and the phenomenon of the third person action games was born. Unfortunately, in the five years since, no one has moved the genre to the next level, until now. Oni, from Bungie and Rockstar, takes everything that you know about third person action games and turns it up a level. This both revitalizes the genre and makes you forget everything that has come before.

In Oni, you take on the role of Konoko, a one woman SWAT team that works for the TCTF (Technology Crimes Task Force). Konoko breaks the recent mold of female action heroes, in that she isn't the large breasted, scantily clad heroine that comes out with guns blazing. The game presents Konoko as a well-balanced character that relies upon stealth and her bare hands as often as she goes in with guns blazing. You spend the game trying to stop the actions of Muro, leader of the Syndicate, an unwholesome bunch of fellows that provide the downtrodden with both drugs and weapons in an effort to promote civil unrest.

The visuals of Oni are impressive. The colors are vivid and the textures bring a sense of realism to every room that you enter. This realism is compounded in every building you enter, an actual architect designed each. While not flawless, the character models and animations work very well. There is only the occasional glitch wherein a throw animation doesn't quite line up with a being thrown animation.

The mood of the game is further magnified through the sounds and music. Like in a good Hollywood film, the soundtrack is always appropriate and effectively manages to turn up the pace of a tense combat situation. The sound effects of the game are eerily realistic, and personally, I don't want to know where they got the sound for necks snapping. The voice-overs could have been a little more polished though.

While it takes a bit of time to get used to, the standard control configuration winds up being extremely efficient for combat. Not a button on the controller goes unused (even R3 and L3 have functions) and functions are assigned in such a way that you never find your fingers far from where they need to be. Oni is also one of the few games that I've ever played that use both of Sony's DualShock analog sticks effectively, using one for movement and the other to look around.

The game is also packed full of excellent combat features. With nine weapons that you can use and an equally varied selection of empty-handed moves available, you are never left without a means to disable a small army. The game's only disappointment is the exclusion of a multiplayer function. The autoblocking feature of unarmed combat makes a deathmatch mode sound tedious, but where is the cooperative multiplayer? This game could only benefit from the addition of a co-op mode, either via split screen or iLink connection.

After finishing Oni, there is a great sense of accomplishment to be felt, for this is not an easy game. However, the levels are laid out very well and are generally well balanced. It is because of this that cruising through them again makes for a great distraction. Also, there is a decision that you make in the game that comes back into play later. Someday, you'll want to go back and make the other choice and see how it changes the rest of the game.

Bottom Line
This game breaks all of the barriers set by Tomb Raider and makes me forget all about Lara Croft. The action is fast paced and contains a good combination of gunplay and hand-to-hand combat. Action fans rejoice, this is the game for you.

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