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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
4.6
Visuals
8.0
Audio
7.0
Gameplay
4.5
Features
4.0
Replay
3.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
GameCube
PUBLISHER:
Capcom
DEVELOPER:
Capcom
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
September 09, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on October 02, 2003

Full Review: Coming up on Fox: "When Promising Video Games go Bad"


Repetitive. Boring. Tedious. Slow. Underachieving. When you're creating a new video game, these words are the last thing you want to see when someone is describing your new product. Unfortunately, more and more games that are released these days can be described by these very words. Whether it's due to poor execution, not enough development time, or just a plain old bad concept, many video games today are falling short of what it takes to viewed as one of the elite. What's even more unfortunate is that P.N.03, Capcom's first installment in their line of five GameCube exclusive games, can also be described by these words.

When we previewed P.N.03 not too long ago, anticipation was extremely high. It seemed that P.N.03 was holding all the right cards to become one of the truly exceptional games of this generation of systems. However, upon cracking open the final product and playing it, it was discovered that P.N.03 suffers from some very serious problems in its gameplay which keeps it from being held as even a decent game, let alone one of the greats.

The basis behind P.N.03 is basic, yet effective. Vanessa Z. Schneider, the lead protagonist and playable character of P.N.03 has been hired by an unknown agent to seek out and destroy a system of malfunctioning robots in a settlement on a distant planet. The robots are controlled by the Computer Arms Management System (CAMS), which has gone haywire, resulting in the robotic chaos. For Vanessa, this assignment gives her a chance to settle the score with the CAMS system, as her dark past is directly involved with the system. No problems as of yet, but read on.

As you first begin P.N.03, you're placed in a desert-like scenario, with your only objective to locate and enter the nearby building. Random robotic enemies surround the entrance, so it's up to you to take them out. Vanessa has 2 main attacks, her palm shot which is controlled by the A button, and her more powerful attacks which can be used by performing specific commands on the D-Pad and the A button. Generally, the palm shot is used for taking out most enemies. Enemies are auto-targeted, so in reality all you really need to do is shoot. Then shoot some more. And some more. More shooting. Dodge. Shoot again. This is basically P.N.03's entire existence. As soon as a new door is entered, all you need to do is smash the A button as fast as possible. If P.N.03 has any sort of challenge to it, it's nothing more than how fast you can hit the A button repeatedly. You can only take this concept so far, which is why P.N.03 gets old fast. Extremely fast.

Don't get me wrong, shooters such as Ikaruga can make this system of gameplay work, and work very well. However, in an environment that is supposed to be a high-flying, adrenaline-pumping action game, it just doesn't pan out. Actually, it sucks all the life out of the entire game.

In the videos released prior to P.N.03's release, we witnessed Vanessa dodging attacks and laser beams with the smoothest of maneuvers. It was almost like watching a break-dancer spin and twist their way out of danger. Once again we find this isn't the case in the actual game. Using the L and R button, Vanessa can dodge to the left and the right respectively. For the most part, you can dodge attacks with relative ease, but its just not as smooth as we thought it would be. Vanessa can also jump with the B button, and turn 180° with the Z trigger.

If there's one thing that can be praised about P.N.03, it's the graphical engine. Environments and enemies have smooth features and lots of detail. P.N.03 is based in a sci-fi type environment, and this can clearly be identified thanks to a well-crafted graphical system. Progressive Scan support has also been added. If there's one thing that hinders this though, it's that locations seem to repeat too often. Room after room and scene after scene seem to be exactly the same when in certain areas.

Sound in P.N.03 is really not a big factor. Sound effects match up well with their respective action, and is relatively well done. The background music throughout P.N.03 is techno-based, and if turned up enough can keep your foot tapping. You'll also notice that when Vanessa is standing still she too has a little shimmy going. Really nothing here that stands out, nor anything that can impress. Dolby Pro Logic II is also supported.

Replay? Don't even think about it. Players will be lucky to finish the game once over when they find out how repetitive the game becomes. The only factor that could possibly attract players to keep going is to upgrade Vanessa's Aegis Suits, just to see her in flashy new colors. But this can only push players so far.

Bottom Line
If there was ever an example of a promising looking video game being shattered due to poor execution, P.N.03 is it. Honestly, the most interesting feature I found on the entire P.N.03 disc is the trailer for the upcoming Viewtiful Joe. We pray that the rest of the Capcom 5 line of games, including that very same Viewtiful Joe, doesn't fall victim to what has happened here to P.N.03. Hardcore, and I mean hardcore shooter fans might find some minor enjoyment from P.N.03, but it's sure to be short-lived. Everyone else is better off just staying away and waiting for Viewtiful Joe.


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