Review by NekoFever

"No more PSO for me!"

1600 - Bought AFO.
1700 - Put AFO into DC and connected to the Internet.
2200 - Emerge from bedroom with cramp in the hands and a whole new addiction.

Beware! This could happen to you if you buy this game! Actually, that's not a bad thing. If you've had your fill of Phantasy Star Online then this is the game for you.

The idea is very simple - you either play as the army in tanks or the aliens in various futuristic ships and take part in 4-a-side battles in different parts of the world like Area 51, Washington, and Siberia. Much of the levels can be blown up, too. If you want to ambush enemies.

This game has a major gimmick that really adds to the game - real-time chat with the microphone. Unlike in PSO where you must type messages, here you speak them into the included microphone (and yes, if you have Seaman or Planet Ring you'll have another microphone). You can either speak to your team to coordinate actions or speak to the whole group to trash talk a little (uncensored!!). Despite the occasional judder in the sound this works very well, but it would probably work better over the broadband adapter which isn't supported.

Despite the lack of BBA support it still works well over the 56k with very little lag even with a lot of action on-screen. I played it from the UK on the PAL 33k modem and it was still very fast, especially so considering the real-time speech. Should you find the lag unbearable (unlikely) you can set the detail levels to improve your ping time.

There are several modes like deathmatch and capture the flag, each with a maximum of 8 players (4 army and 4 aliens).

For a game that relies so much on online play there are a lot of special effects going on like a huge mushroom cloud from nuclear missiles and bright explosions that can be seen from the other side of the arena. The game is quite old so it's not really state of the art but it is very impressive.

The game is playable offline but like PSO it's not how it's supposed to be played. I've barely touched the limited offline missions and have spent hours online. You'll probably do the same otherwise the game won't last you very long at all.

Overall, if you like online gaming this is a must-have. Once you get into it (throwing around some random insults online will warm you to it if you're not impressed at first). It's incredibly addictive, and with Propeller Arena on the way that also features online gaming with a microphone, it seems as though you might want to dig that DC out of the closet.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/20/01, Updated 03/11/03

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