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Review: Project Sylpheed

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When I first heard that a Sylpheed game was coming out for the 360 I nearly lost it. I’ve been a fan of this series since it started on the PC many years ago. It’s gone from 2D scroller to a full HD masterpiece. The game is intense, immersive and beautiful to look at. Who needs Final Fantasy when SquareEnix is putting out gems like this?

The game takes place in 2632, 500 years after humanity conquered space.? Since this time, humans have conquered 11 different star systems.? Hungry for independence, 4 rebellious groups join forces to fight against the earth forces.? A civil war fought out in space?? How original!? The earth forces, Terra Central Armed Forces (TCAF), must defend against the ADAN Freedom Alliance.? The story is told from the point of view of 3 friends; Katana Faraway, Ellen Bernstein and Margras Mason.? They are all part of the TCAF.? When Margras Mason’s home planet was destroyed by a terraforming accident, he joins ADAN and is forced to fight against his friends.

From the start of the game, I was really taken by the story.? It’s setup so that you want to help win this war.? Every mission is dependent on your skill as a pilot to succeed.? If you fail, TCAF fails and ADAN wins.? Like Gears Of War, it’s a very immersive game.? It’s like watching a 3D animated movie and being a part of it.? Every new set of missions starts off with a cinematic.? Unlike a lot of games the cinematics aren’t boring.? It’s an enjoyable watch and you only start skipping pass the cinemas after you’ve seen them a dozen times after dying and starting the mission over.

Gameplay is where this game shines.? All the missions, so far, are fought entirely in space.? Some missions require taking out fighters, motherships or giant missiles.? Others require you to escort or protect large motherships, bases and carriers to their destination.? You’ll never get bored with the missions, only sometimes frustrated because of their difficulty.? Once you get the hang of the controls, you’ll soon realize that this game is a gem.? There is long tutorial that you can play to learn the flight controls.? PLEASE do the tutorial.? It will benefit you in many ways.? When I played the demo I was lost with this game, but once I got the full game and went through the tutorial, I became an ace pilot.

Your Delta Saber can be outfitted with a variety of weapons.? At the beginning of each stage you can choose up to 4 weapons to outfit your ship.? There are anti-ship missiles for motherships, multipurpose missiles and energy weapons.? As you get more? points for completing missions, you can use these points to develop new weapons.? You must choose your weapons wisely. For example,? if you don’t have anti-ship weapons when you need them, you won’t be able to complete certain objectives…at least not with ease.

Flying your Delta Saber is a beautiful thing.? Once you get the hang of it you’ll be all over the place.? Ever wanted to fly like those hot shots in Macross?? Now’s your chance.? Your DS can do a multitude of maneuvers.? These include barrel rolls, 180 degree turns, power cutting, pitching, yaws, afterburning and speed matching.? Power cutting is really cool.? It enables you to cut your engines but continue flying.? You can’t control the ships direction but if you cut power while flying past a mothership, you can turn and face it and fire away.? Matching speed is great for those pesky fighters that move to quick and like to change directions.? When you are going the same speed as the target, it’s easier to pick off.

Targetting is a blast.? I don’t even know if there’s a limit to how many targets you can have.? I’ve targetted up to 20 targets with my missiles and watched the birds fly.? Your energy weapons and cannons are less forgiving, but it’s great to come up behind a fighter and blast it with a cannon. ? Motherships have several hard points you can target such as shield generators, cannons, the bridge and the engine.? If you take out the shield generator, that ship will be blown to smithereens afterwards.? The Delta Saber is also equipped with special abilities that use shield energy. ?? The special moves come in 3 levels.? The first level fires all armed weapons.? Level 2 will activate your shields and thrust you forward for ramming.? Finally, level 3 will slow down time so you can target some of the faster ships with more ease.

Graphically this game is beyond words.? When you look at the pictures on the web or even videos, you might not be impressed.? When you actually play this game in its full HD glory it will blow you away.? There is a ton of things happening on screen during the battles.? So much so that it’s easy to get lost in space.? You must stay focused and complete your missions in a timely manner.? I’ve easily lost missions because I was enjoying the speed, action and destruction.? Taking out a huge mothership is a blast.? The explosions are great to watch too.? You can’t help but get detracted with a game this beautiful.

The sound is equally impressive.? There’s a lot of radio chat going on with you and your flight mates.? The game does have formations in which you can order your wingmen to attack or defend or go off on their own.? Hitting a wingman with friendly fire with greet you with some radio slaps.? I’d love to hear the game over a 5.1 system to truly hear how well the sound design was done.

I can only say good things about Sylpheed.? I’m a huge fan of the series.? My only gripe about the game is the fact that you can’t change from chase to cockpit view during a mission.? This can only be done at the options screen.? If you are a fan of simulators, you’ll like the in cockpit view better.? I suggest you do play the chase view just so you can experience it though.? There hasn’t been much press about this game but I don’t know why Microsoft and SquareEnix aren’t plastering this game all over television, paper and movie venues.? It’s a beautiful piece of work and a much needed change of pace for the FPS laden 360.? I highly recommend this game to anyone who likes a decent shooter with a great story.

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