Mega Man Battle Network 5 - Review  

Corroded Internet
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

20-40 Hours


Rating definitions 

   As usual, the world is in crisis due to terrorism on the Internet and it's up to Lan and Megaman to protect it. This time around, the group of evil operators and Navis known as Nebula has succeeded in completely taking over and fortifying several portions of the net and capturing Lan's father. While this may sound familiar, Mega Man Battle Network 5 takes the series in a surprising and different direction after several iterations of relatively unoriginal updates.

   The biggest change, by far, is the addition of liberation battles. These fights take place in very large battlefields as Megaman and his allies attempt to recapture various portions of the net. Each battlefield is littered with corroded spaces that must be liberated before they can be traveled through. There are also several powerful viruses that travel around and can attack the heroes, as well as a boss that must be reached and defeated in order to liberate the entire field. Each character has special abilities, such as a liberation attack that clears several spaces in a row, that are used by consuming order points. There is a major flaw with this system: liberation battles play a lot like tactical RPG fights, but each liberation attempt results in a normal battle. This turns what would have been a fun tactical battle into a very long series of random battles.

Players will travel through here at least half a dozen times Players will travel through here at least half a dozen times

   Mega Man Battle Network 5 retains the excellent, fast-paced, battle system that its predecessors used and is the primary reason to play the game. Megaman, or whichever Navi the player is currently operating, has a three-by-three grid to move in. He can hold thirty chips that allow him to make a custom deck of attacks, but he also has a standard blaster and the ability to charge shots. Oddly enough, battles are real time, but area effect is also very important, so they end up being a mix between action and tactical systems. While this itself is good, a problem stems from the fact that there are so many battles in a row, especially during liberation missions, that battles actually become more of a chore than anything else. The difficulty has been significantly decreased, especially since dark chips that can defeat almost any boss in a few hits are no longer as random as they were in Mega Man Battle Network 4.

   Another major problem the game faces is that there is an enormous amount of mandatory backtracking. While the other games in the series also featured quite a bit, this game takes it to a whole new level. For example, there is one particular dungeon that must be completed three times. The story's reasons for doing this are very weak. In fact, the majority of the story revolves around getting a new member added to the liberation team and features only a few isolated twists. The series isn't known for its storylines, but this is the weakest in the bunch.

   The story, as neglected as it is, at least has decent localization. There are a few problems here and there, but none are large enough to detract from the game. Another problem the game has is explaining how some chips work. This is especially true for certain high level chips that have strange rules. On the other hand, the game's control system is very good, especially with the speed of the battle system taken into account. It's very responsive and it's the player's fault if they get hit, not the interface's.

Liberation battle Liberation battle

   It will likely take at least twenty hours to complete the game, even if the player knows exactly what to do, making it the longest game in the series. This is primarily caused by the large amount of tedious repetition. As usual, there are also several bonus areas and bosses that can add another twenty or so hours of playtime without adding more needless repetition.

   Another problem that arises from repeating the same area over and over is that the background music often becomes extremely repetitive. To make matters worse, some of the excellent tracks that Mega Man Battle Network 4 added have been dumped and replaced with mediocre music instead. The sound effects are of decent quality.

   The visuals are, as usual, of good quality. Things are average out of battle, but virus busting has the added reward of detailed and well-animated sprites. This is especially true when it comes to the well-designed bosses. Many of the sprites have been used numerous times in previous games, but they are still of good quality.

   The primary draw of Mega Man Battle Network 5 is its battle system. That said, the sheer volume of battles and tedious dungeons really drains the fun out of it after a while. Liberation battles mix things up, but only end up adding to the problem due to the dozens of random battles that must be fought to clear them. To make matters worse, the story is the weakest in the series and forces Megaman to clear the same area several times. Aside from the backtracking, none of its problems are very large on their own, but there are enough of them that they compound to make this by far the worst game in the series. Only serious fans should pick this one up.

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