Developer: From Software
Release Date: March 6th 2003
When I saw the very first screens of this title a few months ago it grabbed my attention right away. Being the big Mech fan that I am, as more and more info was released, I was getting pretty hyped for this game. Developed by From Software, the makers of the great Armored Core series, this game looked to be yet another ace in their Mech based games and I had little doubt that it would be anything less. I did however have big dobuts about this game ever making it over stateside, but Ubi Soft picked this game up and desided to bring it over. Unfortunately after playing through this game I wish it had stayed in Japan.
Right off the bat after only a few minutes of play you will start to see problem after problem after problem. Sadly it gets worse as you get deeper into the game. Murakumo's main mode of play is it's Story Mode, where you progress through the games 17 missions as the story unfolds. There's not much of a story, and what little story there is, it won't hold your intrest for very long. Even worse then the games thin story is it's gameplay, which redefines the word repetitive. Almost ever mission has you trying to chase down a robot that has gone crazy and is flying around the level. Your job is to try and take it out as fast as possable. When I say "a robot", I really mean A ROBOT, as in ONE SINGLE ROBOT. Thats right, almost ever mission has you chasing after only ONE robot and once you shoot him down the level is over.
Murakumo's levels are made up of 3 basic types, the city, underground caverns or the "exciting" ocean levels. While the levels are massive, you can not fly where ever you want to explore them. While you are chasing that one robot across the level, you have to stay close to it or the robot will get out of range and the mission will end. To make things worse, the robots fly the exact same path through the levels every time, so once you played the level once you have seen everything there is to see. Even though there is just one robot that you have to shoot down, actually hitting it becomes a problem thanks to the games awful targeting system. While there is only one robot (95% of the time) that you have to shoot down, there are many other robots that have no other job in the game other then to try and piss you off, which they do very very well.
The targeting system auto locks on to your targets for you. Which while your flying at high speeds through a massive city trying to avoid the buildings, one would think this would be a good thing. The problem is the targeting system likes to lock on to everything else in the game but the one main robot you have to take down. All of the "extra" robots in the level, which are so weak they really have little impact on you when they do hit you, attract your trageting system. Even when your main robot is closer to you then the other robots. What this comes down to is it's one hell of a pain in the ass to target and hit the one and only robot you actually need to shoot. Speaking of shooting, your Mech comes with 2 weapons, a standard gun and missles. Neather of which are the least bit impressive.
Also not impressive are the games graphics. The mechs are not very detailed and the robots you chase look like they came out of a PS1 game. The levels are made up of poorly textured buildings with bland lighting and lots of draw in and pop ups. The game does run at a smooth 60 FPS, which gives it a great sense of speed as you fly past the buildings. That is about the only good thing graphics wise in this game, and given the little amount of detail this game does push, its a wounder its not running at 200 FPS with all that extra Xbox power thats not being used.
Sound wise this game is lacking as well. While sound effects and music are not too bad, the voice acting and annoying robot voice that informs you every 2 seconds that "The distance from the target is increasing" will drive you crazy. As will the other comments from your friends that pop up through out the missions.
This is the part of the review where I tend to talk about the replay value of the game. But how do you talk about the replay, when I am not even recomending you play this title at all? If you do end of playing this for what ever reason, and yes I feel your pain, there are extra missions to unlock, a new mech, and other modes of play. All of which find you (Guess What!) chasing a robot through a city! At one point I was really hyped up for this game, but all of that was sucked out of me as I had to play through this for the sake of this review. Thankfuly none of you do.
Score : 4/10