Review by discoinferno84
"Through the looking glass..."
What is the color of the sky? How about the color of the grass? How about blood, snow, or lemons? The answers to all of these questions should come to you in an instant. We as a species have learned how to describe such things based upon our perceptions of our environment, and have taken great strides to pass that information down to the following generation, ensuring that such basic facts will never go unrecognized. But what if everything we saw was wrong? What if the sky was really red, the grass orange, or our blood yellow? What if we're just stumbling around in our own ignorance, and the world isn't anything as we perceive or understand it? What if reality were something else entirely, something far different or beyond what we know as normal? We'll never know.
A newfound understanding of reality has rocked the world. A dimensional rift has opened up, giving humanity a taste of a whole other side to the existence they only thought they knew. The massive rift between dimensions leads to the Chaos Field, where the entire planet is nothing but a post-apocalyptic wasteland being torn apart by war and strife. Dominion over this godforsaken realm has lead to a seemingly endless war. Things have gotten so bad that the battles have spilled out of the dimensional rift and into the Order Field that everyone used to know as reality. In an act of desperation, the government began birthing and raising children as a new generation of highly capable super soldiers. But instead of sending out massive waves of troops and resources to wage war, the government has defied all logic and sent out merely sent out Hal, Ifumi, and Jinn in the most advanced fighter planes ever made to end the war once and for all.
That's right, humanity's salvation rests in the hands of three teenagers armed with nothing but some futuristic fighter planes. Yeah, mankind is probably doomed. However, that won't stop these three underdogs from giving it their best shot. They'll fly deep into the heart of the conflict and wipe out everything that gets in their way. Though the heroes are several outnumbered, most of the enemies are only moderately difficult, leaving plenty of room for mistakes and opportunities for success. Each character pilots his or her own unique killing machine with built-in basic and special attacks, be it Hal's constant barrage of energy blasts, Ifumi's homing laser cannons, or Jinn's devastating thunderbolt strikes. Their vehicles are also equipped with giant energy swords that act as makeshift windshield wipers, easily swatting away any unfriendly fire that may come their way. However, this unusual weapon serves another purpose; the game's hit detection is so horrid that you'll be constantly swatting away rogue bullets because you'll never be sure if you're going to get hit or not. Considering that the screen will usually be filled to the brim with multicolored bullets and mesmerizing laser shows, it's a fair bet that such inconsistency will keep you on your toes.
As you progress through the Arcade Mode, you'll discover that the levels seem to be nothing more than a series of uninspired boss battles. Should you get tired of such monotony and try to find something redeeming about the Original Mode, you'll see that it offers nothing more than a few waves of enemy fodder and treat you to yet another slew of bosses. In order to prevent the eventual boredom, the game designers decided to include a nice little gimmick to keep the audience occupied. At any given moment, you can shift between the Order and Chaos Fields and continue your battle as you please. While the Order Field, your enemy's bullet do a tiny bit of damage to your defenses, but your own firepower is nothing special either. Should you want to get the job done quick, you can spend some time in the Chaos Field, where your attacks are multiplied, but your enemies are far more aggressive with their offense. It's this tradeoff between the power and difficulty that will leave you changing dimensions when need be.
Considering how the Order and Chaos Fields operate opposed to each other, it's little wonder that they'd be depicted drastically different. The game starts with the heroes flying down some sort of dark blue corridor, slowly decimating a badly designed enemy warship. But with a simple press of the button, you'll end up in the Chaos Field, where the serene blue has changed into a fearsome blood red, the ships look a little bit more menacing, and everything seems just a little bit more chaotic. Should you make it into some of the later levels, you'll get to fly over vast cityscapes on the Order side, but peer among the desolate ruins on the Chaos side. If these drastic differences aren't enough of an indication of your present dimension, the sudden barrage (or lacking) of enemy fire will clue you in. Sadly, not even this flipping between realities will be enough to catch your eye; this game makes little use of the console's graphical abilities, treating gamers to polygonal ships, choppy animation, and an utter lack of any fine details. The music is even worse, only a small selection of generic techno that adds absolutely nothing to the game's already bland presentation.
In the end, Chaos Field seems more like an incomplete work, a game that had offers nothing but squandered potential. Sure, it has a few decently challenging battles, different characters with distinctive fighting styles, a simplistic combat system, and all the rest of the things that come standard with any shooting game this generation. However, not even these can save this game from its own mediocrity. The hit detection is more of a miss, the presentation is far below the standards set by so many of the game's contemporaries, and even the Chaos/Order gimmick could have been fleshed out and utilized far more than what the gameplay offers. When everything is said and done, Chaos Field fails to impress on all levels. Sorry, all you gamers looking for a second Ikaruga for your Gamecubes, but your search will have to continue.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 03/24/06
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