Phantasy Star Online Episode 3 - Review  

A good Phantasy goes bad.
by kupomogli

Easy - Hard
16 - 100 hours


Rating definitions 

   Sega's Phantasy Star Online series once again comes to the Gamecube, this time featuring a Tactical RPG system which has an added twist of using cards for battle as well. Cards are what the story is about as well, and if you've ever played Kartia, you've heard it before. The government develops cards which can recreate anything in the world, ending the need to actually work for anything, however, this is only done with the help of the Germ. The Arkz, which found out how to make these cards as well, attack government facilities, but for what? While the storyline is slightly different, and each team stays in different areas, each of those facilities are exactly the same, aside from the people walking around in them. The storyline itself consists of all the same battles, but instead of using one team, you end up being on the other side, and attacking those places for the same reason one side did.

Choosing character type? Does nothing believe it or  not. Choosing character type? Does nothing believe it or not.

   There are actually two types of gameplay, depending of whether you choose the Hunters or the Arkz. The Hunters equip different types of weapons and different equipment, where each item you equip has its own amount of HP which act as shields until they're destroyed, even if they're weapons. You can equip up to four different items depending on how powerful the ones you have equipped are allowing your character to attack multiple times as long as you have enough points to go through with the attack. The Arkz however are a bit different, where instead of equipping items, they have preset equipped weapons which can't be used to guard, but can't be destroyed either. Arkz are also able to summon monsters to the battlefield, and unlike the Hunters who can only equip weapons, each monster has their own attack power and movement range. There is a huge flaw about this title, which is in fact the exact same flaw you'll find in Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 and 2, that the Hunters are alot more powerful than the Arkz, making the difficulty of playing as the other side alot higher, making two player matches probably consisting over always using the Hunter group, either that or suffering a loss for using the Arkz.

   The battles are all done on a grid, the size of it depends on how far you are. You have a dice roll, which the two numbers rolled will be your attack and defense, the higher number always being attack. Attack is used for Hunters to equip items and the Arkz to summon monsters, and how far the monsters can be summoned depends on how powerful of a monster it is. Moving on the field during the move phase takes one point attack for each square, however, the Arkz have to pay movement costs for each monster that moves, while the Hunters only have a single character, so only end up paying that cost. Attacking is the next phase in which each character can preform an attack in their range, where Hunters can preform multiple attacks as long as they have the amount of weapons, as well as the attack power, and the Arkz can only perform a single attack, as well as each monster preform a single attack. The last phase is the draw phase, allowing you to discard cards and get up to five at the end of the turn, unless of course you use an event card that lets you hold more. When the enemy attacks, you use your defense points in using cards that guard a certain amount of damage, but other than that, that's it.

Hunter vs. Hunter, must be multiplayer. Hunter vs. Hunter, must be multiplayer.

   Because the game is in the exact same areas, the graphics of the title are just upgraded from Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 and 2. They did a great job at modeling all the characters and enemies for attacks depending which attack was done, and this is by far the best graphics in any tactical RPG created. Most of the character and enemy models were redone from the other games, making the monsters look alot better, and the battlefields also were also upgraded, showing continuous movement of animals in the background or going down an area on an elevator. The music is done better, having a different track for each battle, and while it still isn't that good, it's certainly done alot better than the first. The sound effects however, are actually kindof worse, because you no longer hear any footsteps on the ground, outside and in battle, but each type of attack is done well atleast, depending on the monster or the weapon you use. Thankfully, just like the other titles, you won't see any bad localization due to the fact that the game barely has any storyline, where this is sortof a good thing, but bad because it has no real story.

   While I did have alot of fun playing as the Hunters, it only took me a little more than 6 hours to finish the quest, so it was extremely short, and nothing but battle after battle. However, when I went and played through the Arkz quest, I really hated it, involving no real strategy, only to wear your opponent down by summoning monsters. The game was fun for a bit, but like the others in the Online series, the character system is extremely flawed, and ruins the entire game.

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