Hybrid Heaven: Project X Zone Preview

(For the 3DS)

SEGA, Namco, Capcom…there’s a very good chance if you play on a regular basis, you’ve enjoyed a game from at least one of these companies. With major franchises like Street Fighter, Mega Man, The Tales Series, Xenosaga, Shinning Force, Virtua Fighter and more, these games have no shortage of crazy characters. What makes these universes so much fun, relies heavily on the ideal that all of these iconic heroes are forever locked in their own battles eternally. I believe at some point someone asked:  “Why not lock all of them in one big eternal battle”?

Ergo, Project X Zone.

I’ll say from the start, PxZ has a very heavy focus on Eastern pop-culture. While all of these characters are from video games, a great many of them have had their very own anime’s or possess a  very refined sense of that Japanese Fantastical. The game doesn’t even offer an English cast, all spoken dialogue in native Japanese. Between the highly stylized animation, and the lack of dubs for any of the characters, the game play after the fact may be irrelevant.

Your entire preference of Project X Zone may boil down to whether or not you feel comfortable in the game’s unashamedly Eastern approaches. Those looking for gritty combat realism or a testosterone filled shooting fest, look else where.

My hands on preview with PxZ deals with the first couple hours of gameplay. In this time, I had gleamed a great deal of quality from the title, and had to rip myself from the 3DS, before the game threw any more reality bending freaks my way. Starting with comprehending the most basic, and then understanding the more advanced stuff, happened far faster than I thought. The engaging but comfortable learning curve interspersed with the ridiculous visuals,  gave me a good idea of how the game is willing to to wow me, and any other prospective but nervous buyers. The first appearances from the likes of Street Fighters and Tekken’s finest are merely recognizable mascots, to try and ease you into what is an ample effort in creating a unique hybrid.

And unique it is. PxZ juggles quite a few elements in the air all at once, and doesn’t drop any of them. The pre-battle sequences will have full voice overs, and hand draw recreations of the starring video game heroes. However, the over world itself takes on a far more quaint appearance.  The 2.5D world of PxZ will always be giving you an eagle eyes view of the battle field, and the game’s approach to portraying this, boils down to a miniaturized art style that follows suit. All of the combatants take on a chibi-like facade, making everything disarmingly bite sized.

Project X Zone dares to go big, however, offering a delicious mix of Tactics, RPG, and 2D Fighting games rolled into one quality dish. This hybrid gameplay is really as robust in personality as the cast is. Taking so many unique design approaches and throwing them together sounds like a recipe for an ambitious disaster, but the fusion produced from the combination of the three is very engaging.

This may be due to the fact that neither the tactics, RPG, or fighting game elements feel forced. They all compliment each other with ease, one game play element acting as a great synergy for the other two. To explain in more explicit terms, in any given mission, the flow chart is as follows.

With en eagle eye’s view of the battle field, your cast of heroes are placed on a grid as units. After choosing how many spaces you want to move, you may then attack or simply wait till your next turn.

After the battle commences, you can then input specific button commands, which will then execute certain attacks.

For general fighting style and victories, you’ll then receive experience points for your team.

For anyone in the know,  PxZ could easily be described as Disgae having a picnic with Street Fighter.

The amount to take in, conceptually or functionally speaking may sound daunting, but a lot of polish went into making Project X Zone very easy to jump in and play. This sense of convolution is toned down with a friendly nature and the delightfully iconic characters you recognize. The service to varied game play styles is readily apparent, and PxZ doesn’t force you to play one way or the other. Button mashers will find a place in combat, without dis-servicing the generals of our day who desire a more tactical approach. You aren’t force fed tutorials, but the information exists for those who wish to truly master the art of combos and cross overs.

The Cross Overs will reveal themselves to you as time goes on, and may be the perfect distillation of how insane the game gets. In certain missions, depending on the number of characters at your disposal, you may activate your heroes in wait, to help you perform over ever satisfying but oh so ridiculous combos. At first they may seem like just a bit more flash for your damage, this remains a fleeting assumption. The moment you begin to realize your command inputs may be timed to increase damage and create opportunities for follow up attacks, you won’t hesitate to double take at the combat system.

The ability to optimize your Crazy Character Cross Overs with all of these facets of fighting begets dizzying results. This odd blend of skill and strategy creates some awesome potential for mass chaos in the games consistently rampant encounters. Only then will you start to gleam the reality of how insanely massive the combat system will eventually get.

Ulala, Yuir Lowell, and Chun-Li all ganging up on one dude, while Akira Yuki, KOS-MOS, and Mega Man X hang on the side lines ready to jump in?

If I was a villain, I would leave this reality immediately.

Project X Zone is only available on the 3DS, making it a system exclusive. This is very exciting for 3DS owners, and a sad reality for anyone else. Being on a portable system, the game is designed top down to service quick bouts of gameplay. While my preview session had me anchored to the same place for over an hour (couldn’t wait to see who I’d meet next), the missions are brief, and the gameplay is swift in design. There’s even a quick save feature that can be utilized at any point in the mission, ideal for batteries running low or a quick five minute burst of engagement.

Project X Zone co-operates quite nicely with long sessions or get up and go gaming.

After spending ample time with PxZ, I can happily say I’m very much looking forward to finishing the game for a full review. The game hits all of the right buttons of quality for me. This is in between all of the inter dimensional zaniness that occurs in the game, which involves being thrown into the air by demons and robots at any given moment. The collision of design elements ends up being endlessly inviting, and I think Project X Zone’s real boast is somehow providing as much style as it does substance.

My first established  impressions of PxZ are as follows: crazy awesome. Even without an intimate knowledge of the universes colliding, there exists a novel, well polished, unique hybrid for anyone looking for something outside the norm…and Project X Zone is anything but ordinary.

Article from Gamersyndrome.com

Share This Post

Post Comment