The very word "randomized" gives me brain freeze. It conjures up horrid memories of Robotica on the Saturn wandering through endlessly changing levels of blackness not knowing where I was going or what I was doing and, oh my god, what are these red stripes on the floor? Where am I? Who's that? AAAAAAHHHHHHRRGGH!!!! The horror, the horror.
As you can probably guess, when I heard that Evolution, Dreamcast's first RPG released in the US, was going to "feature" randomized dungeons, I was worried. Very worried. And now, after sitting with Evolution for hours on end, I know the truth: BOOOOOOOORRRRRRRING.
Now don't get me wrong, Evolution is a visually superb game. It has some really great character designs and development. The music adds a wonderfully "anime-ish" feel to the game. The gameplay is easily assimilated by the gamer, but the game is just... snooze-o-rama.
The story is not overtly dramatic. The protagonist is not a mission to save the universe from an army of alien-zombie Romans or anything like that. The story, much like Grandia, is centered around a young boy and his love for adventure and discovery. While Grandia executed this concept of a more lighthearted RPG flawlessly, the developers of Evolution seem to have left out one all-important factor: fun.
I attribute this to the developers' trying to make the game accessible to randomization. The dungeons are repetitious and unimaginative. However, they are clear and crisp... and put me right to f***ing sleep. I swear to god, this game is like downing a bottle of highly potent amphetamines. It's about as exciting as working in a video game store (did I say that out loud?).
The only redeeming quality that I think Evolution is its graphical prowess. For once in gaming history, gameplay takes a step down for graphics. I can't believe I'm actually saying this. Like I said before, Evolution, for the most part, is an optical rollercoaster. At points during the humorous cut scenes or the battles, you find your jaw hanging down and a sliver of drool sliding from your mouth. At other points, mostly during dungeon exploration, you're eyes will begin to sting and water as you traverse the same passageways again and again and again and again.
The enemies are marvelously constructed and move with uncanny fluidity, but they lack variety and fighting them in the token turn-based-menu fighting sequences in unoriginal accordance is tiring. Of course, the average gamer will press on in order to see different creatures and perform flashier attacks on them. Once again, that is the game's saving grace: eye candy.
I shouldn't rag on this game so relentlessly. It is a first for the system and was bound to be plagued by certain aspects, but I have a nagging feeling in my tummy that a lot more could have been done to help Evolution evolve... or whatever.
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