Phantasy Star Online - Dreamcast

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, over the shoulder Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Sonic Team Soft. Co.: SEGA
Publishers: SEGA (GB)
Released: 23 Feb 2001 (GB)
2000 (US)
Ratings: 11+
Accessories: VGA Compatible, Vibration Pack, Keyboard, Visual Memory Card

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Summary

Phantasy Star makes a welcome return to the videogame scene in true 128-bit glory. The last Phantasy Star game was released on the Mega Drive and the series dates all the way back to the Sega Master System. This new incarnation is how role-playing games should be, on-line and multi-player! Phantasy Star can be played on-line or off-line depending on your preference. Experience gained off-line can be used when playing over the Internet.

Phantasy Star is displayed in full 3D calculated real-time and it looks beautiful. There is no jumping to battle scenes when you encounter enemies, they are part of the game and must be dealt with swiftly. The more people that are in your party, the more enemies you will encounter and often they go after the player with most experience first. You can use speech bubbles to communicate with the other members of party or use icons to ‘speak’ to people that don’t speak the same language as you. It’s great fun covering your friends' backs or deciding on what tactics you should use.

The story of Phantasy Star Online involves a mysterious explosion that happens on Ragol, a planet that is almost ready to be inhabited. Pioneer 1 set up colonies seven years ago and just as Pioneer 2 was due to arrive something strange happened. The explosion seems to have affected the genes of the creatures of Ragol and has mutated them. The initial settlers have disappeared and it is your responsibility to unravel the mystery of Ragol.

You start the game by creating your own character. You can customise everything from hair colour to height and weight. You can also select what class you would like your character to be: a fighter, a hunter or a force. Fighters are excellent at close combat, hunters use long-distance weapons and force characters use magic.

The way the game works is that you approach the Hunter’s Guild to receive missions. The missions vary greatly but are interlinked to the overall story in one way or another. One mission involves taking a journalist down to the planet’s surface and protecting her while she conducts her research. You are rewarded with money and experience for successfully completing these tasks.

There are a lot of conventional role-playing ideas in Phantasy Star balanced with a fresh new approach. The game plays fantastically well and could well win you some new friends. You can get to know people on the other side of the world with the on-line facility. With games like Phantasy Star and Quake 3, the Dreamcast is showing us what on-line console gaming is all about.