Review by Bkstunt_31
"Yes, Rockstar and Bungie CAN make bad games.."
Oni is an action game for the Playstation 2, brought to you by Rockstar Canada and Bungie. Now these are big names, especially nowadays after Grand Theft Auto and the Halo series, but it turns out that they have also produced some very BAD games as well as the good ones. Oni is a perfect example, and here's why:
The story in Oni is questionable at best. You control a TCTF (Technological Crimes Task Force) agent named Konoko and are given no background what-so-ever. You are looking for evidence of criminal activity by the syndicate (another bad naming choice). It is evidenced early on that you are not quite human, and you eventually learn that yourself as you take on the syndicate. In all, the idea behind the story isn't bad. It's got a few unique plot twists and the scope of the final battle was a good idea. However, the presentation and pacing are flawed beyond belief. This could have been a MUCH better story if it had been presented properly, which leads me to believe that the majority of it was put in as an after-thought.
Game play: 4/10
Again, the idea behind the game play mechanics is actually solid. In Oni you explore levels to advance the story, fighting various syndicate members along the way. You can pick up guns and use them, as well as melee fight using your hands and feet. However, this is all flawed by the weird way you move, it almost reminds me of the old Prince of Persia games where you keep moving a bit after you stop. This makes picking up guns and using the computer terminals (which are used everywhere to open doors) a pain. The gun's themselves are nothing exciting, and rely on the smattering of ammo found throughout the levels. The melee fighting is also frustrating, due to not having a dedicated block button and the fact that fighting more than one enemy basically guarantees that you will be wasting a health pack.
However, all of this pales in comparison to the compass system used in Oni. You are given a general direction of where your next objective is and whether it is above or below you. And given the huge size of some of the levels, this just isn't good enough. There were also about three separate instances where a door that was supposed to open just plain didn't, which leaves you STUCK in the game and forces you to RESTART the level, which is just plain unacceptable, broken game play. Speaking of stuck, there are also quite a few instant-death spots in the game which will force you to restart a long ways back from where you were, so some better checkpoints would have been welcomed as well. Overall, Oni just isn't that fun to play
The graphics in the game are perhaps the best part of it (I think the music may score higher), but that really isn't much of a compliment. There is the obvious anime influence, as you can see by the box, and this extends into some cut scenes as well as several still images when you start and end a level. The rest of the game looks like one of the better Playstation One titles. Enemy designs are reused constantly, as are building designs. There are precious few details, and even than they are put in as an after-thought. One level featured a bunch of non-interactable safes, one of which was about two stories ABOVE you in a stairwell (yes, in real-life you would actually need a 2-story ladder to reach this safe). Why in the world would you put that there? The main character designs look nothing like their anime counterparts either. There is also no wall-stability in the game, you can easily see beyond walls by moving the camera around. Overall, you can tell that the minimum amount of effort was put into this game.
Music/Sound Effects: 6/10
The music in Oni is almost non-exsistant, although I may be saying this since in only plays when you are progressing in the story and not wandering around due to a broken compass system. When it does play, it is fast with an upbeat, punk feel. It did have a few catchy beats. It quickly fades into background noise though, especially when you are being shot or punched at. The sound effects mainly consist of taunts by enemies, which get old EXTREMELY quick as there are only about five different sound effects for the enemies in the whole game. The cut scenes are voiced-over, but there is very little emotion in them, the only person the did a decent job was the main character's actor. A better score can be had by kicking up the music time, and recording some worth-while sound effects. The highlight of the game may very well be the occasional good music beat, though it is a close call.
If I haven't already convinced you to stay away from Oni, I guess I never will. If you play it you'll find that it is broken down into 14 different chapters, each with 2-3 check points in them. As you progress, you can revisit each chapter or checkpoint. There are also three difficulties as well as a few cheats you can use. Overall, there is no incentive to play through this game again once you beat it.
You need to stay away from Oni. I understand it is very cheap and may be tempting, but try to focus on some other cheap games that may actually be fun (Devil May Cry 3, Resident Evil 4, Final Fantasy XII, etc..). If I can spare one gamer from Oni, this review has done its job. Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/09
Game Release: Oni (US, 01/29/01)
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