Review by Loudawg
"Search for the Truth in All Things"
VIRTUA QUEST successfully combines elements from other Sega titles (AM2's SHENMUE and Sonic Team's PHANTASY STAR ONLINE) to create a "fighting rpg" that's an enjoyable experience from beginning to end.
You play as Sei, a boy who logs into the Nexus to hunt for treasure. In the future, people are so bored with the real world that they turn to the Nexus to escape reality. In the Nexus, it's possible to go on exciting adventures and be what one could never be in the real world. To enter the Nexus, simply hook yourself into a VR machine and you're transported to a Hunter's Area. Here, a hunter can chat with other hunters (users), acquire missions from other characters, and join servers to search for treasure (data chips). The Hunter's Area very much resembles Pioneer 2 in PHANTASY STAR ONLINE (Yuji Naka is thanked in the end credits). Game flow is similar as well -- talk to a hunter, get a piece of information you need to access a server, then buy whatever upgrades you need before attempting the task at hand. Unlike PHANTASY STAR ONLINE, VIRTUA QUEST is more story driven. The story is told mostly through cut scenes. Sei and his friends are enjoyable to listen to and very likable. Although the story is slow in the beginning, it gradually picks up and becomes very engrossing. It is not until the emotional end of the game that you really understand and appreciate the story and characters completely.
Whereas the story is told SHENMUE style, the action is definitely more of the PHANTASY STAR ONLINE variety. Instead of 3 hit combos with a weapon, you rely on combos with your fists of fury. Throughout the game, Sei finds Virtua Souls, which are representations of the characters from the VIRTUA FIGHTER game series. Each fighter has something to say and a positive message to spread, so listen closely. To learn a martial arts skill from one of the Virtua Fighter characters, Sei must defeat him/her. Adding and equipping Virtua Souls, upgrades, and feeding your mag (which evolves, like in PHANTASY STAR ONLINE) all add to the "RPG feel" of VIRTUA QUEST. End of stage bosses are impressive -- ranging from masters of the martial arts, demon summoners, a light saber swinging robot/plane/Jedi, and even Dural. VIRTUA QUEST also has several platforming elements, such as jumping, a few tricky puzzles, and a cool electric laser Sei uses to swing from place to place. The music is solid, as there are several outstanding jazz and rock tracks you'll want to hear again and again. Control is decent (tricky), so take the time needed to improve and master the L trigger to reposition the camera as you see fit.
Overall, VIRTUA QUEST is a game that all gamers should play but only a select few will. You may read reviews in magazines or other sites that speak poorly of this game, while giving other lesser "hit" titles high scores. I'm here to say that VIRTUA QUEST has a lot to offer gamers who appreciate a great story, fighting, and role playing elements. Check it out!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/29/05, Updated 01/31/05
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