Preview: Phantasy Star Online

Phantasy Star Online


High customization

All the colors of the rainbow

Form parties of friends

Powerful weapons

Hectic combat

Huge bosses

Sega breaks new ground in online console gaming with Phantasy Star Online.
Platform: Dreamcast
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Rated Teen: Mild animated violence

    Phantasy Star Online is surrounded by a large number of misconceptions. While many believe it to be a massively multiplayer online RPG, complete with player killers and monthly fees, it is in fact more comparable to the Diablo series. An exploration oriented Action/RPG, with a fixed story, and the option of teaming up to three friends online, for free.

    Phantasy Star Online's storyline may disappoint fans of the series, as rather than add to the ongoing plot of the originals, it presents a loosely connected side story, much like Phantasy Star 3. However, as the driving force of the game is cooperative exploration rather than story, both long term fans and newcomers should enjoy the game equally.

    When starting a new game, rather than being forced to use a premade character, or having an elaborate character creation system, Phantasy Star Online let's players choose one of nine character prototypes, and customize their appearance. This customization process is quite impressive, offering each character type a choice of five faces, seven outfits, four skin tones, a huge variety of hair styles, and absolutely any hair color, height, and build.

    The nine character templates represent a good variety of the character types found throughout the Phantasy Star series. In addition to humans, players may be Numen, girls with long ears and an affinity for magic, or androids, powerful robots with no magical ability. Each character type also belongs to one of three general classes. The sword wielding Hunters, the gun toting Rangers, and the magic using Forces.

    While the game can be played solo, the designers emphasize the benefits of teamwork, both for players and monsters. Even the most harmless of monsters can easily kill a lone player by surrounding them, meanwhile the three general classes compliment each other wonderfully.

    When Phantasy Star Online hits the shelves on the 30th, players all over the world will be treated to a cooperative romp through a beautiful world full of savage monsters. In the interest of international play, communication is possible through both text, and internationally recognizable icons. Best of all, like Blizzard's Diablo 2, the multiplayer action is totally free.

by Jake Alley

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