Review by undercovermark

"Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows Feedback"

Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

Do game review always boil down to an individual bias. Their own personal like and dislike? It does and certain objectivity seems to diminish when one find apple taste different than oranges and still you want it to taste more the same. Gauntlet: Seven sorrows is one of those title I feel has a lot of bad reviews, bad opinions towards it and give it a false representation of being a work bereft of merit. Going through it many times, I was entertained by its simplistic premise. It reminds me of games of old, when things were simpler and enjoyable.

Seven Sorrows tells the story of four heroes who where bond to a tree at the bottom of the world by their liege emperor in his attempt to steal their immortality. He failed, meet his demise by the hand of his six counsels and left a legacy of chaos thus known as his seven sorrows. His ghost return to unbound these heroes in order to amend his wrongs. When I first read the preview at Game Informer, I was intrigue because it was an interesting story. It felt like a plot pen by a real writer and not by some adolescent straight out of animation school who couldn't put two cohesive paragraphs together. Regrettably to say, the story left in the final cut is water down during production. It's far less interesting than the one stress in the preview. Gone is the story of the tragedian, the lancer and what else? Those that aren't present can't be accounted for. The narration by the emperor at the start of every stage tells the story no less, but he really isn't a compelling character to listen to.

Seven Sorrow spot bright, clean looking graphic with an Aztec inspire theme. Unlike the Lord of The Ring games where everything are dark and broody. Here is a conscientious decision to make things brighter and cleaner. The environment and backdrop are nicely done. The details vary, some like the imperial palace stages have more environmental objects as compare to the wooded area. The character models are clearly low polygon affair. You can clearly see the faces are obscure with low resolution textures in the character selection scene. It really doesn't matter since the game is play in a panoramic view. The detail as a whole works fine and the game runs at a steady frame, thought when things become really frantic, the PS2 does struggle to keep up. That happens rarely. It would not be fair to say this without some direct comparison, let's take Dynasty Warriors 4 and 5 for examples. They suffer much more severe slowdown from occasion, but remain as good playable games.

Characters and Game Play
There are four characters to choose from, the warrior, the valkyrie, the elf and the wizard. They are your classic cliché rag tag group. The warrior is the melee champ, the valkyrie is your female counterpart which differ slightly, the elf is the fastest projectile user with a rapier style of fighting, the wizard uses magic and no, he doesn‘t smack anyone with his stick. The control is broken down into melee and projectile. Unlike classic gauntlet, projectile takes a back seat in favor of melee combat. Projectile isn't as strong or helpful when surrounded by hordes, but useful at picking out single enemy. Melee is broken down into basic hack, guard break, launch, block, and finally a magic button. Magic is broken down into five buttons. Each of the up, down, left and right directional buttons offer a different magic attack. Different combination of the hack, guard break, launch create different combo set. I find the combo system is well implemented and thought out. They didn't include useless combo as in other game, most of it are practical and easy to pull off. The right analog stick is assign to evasive move like quick dash or teleport.

Each act of the game breaks down to around three stages that crescendo to a boss fight in the finally. There are six acts in the story, each divided into roughly three stages. The layout are linear matter where you go from point A to B and so on. Sometime you need to fetch a key, other require you to destroy all monster generators or rotate some lever(s) to open the door. It's very simple, very basic stuff. You will find gold, food, weapons and armor upgrade in chests and relic, the money can be utilize to purchase additional skills and combos after the stage.

You begin at the barbarian homeland where war is waging. You get the usual catapult fireballs, the destruction of the environment, the falling rubbles, the tremble and shaking of the ground. The whole package as seen in opening stages like Demon Stone and such. Not to say it's bad, it's quite nicely done. The second act takes place in the sunken city, probably the most boring and forgettable of all the act in the game. The developer should have substitute an ice mountain area, a graveyard, a swamp or perhaps even the desert will be better than the East inspire sunken city. It's definitely the weakest of all acts. What follows from act two are Celtic grassland, the imperial city, the elf's realm and classic dungeons and one final lava, bottom of the earth sort of stage.

The first thing you should do is go to the option menu and crank up the music to maximum level, otherwise you won't hear much of the nice orchestral themes. Seven Sorrows has decent compose theme. They really do stand out doing in play and you take notice to listen to them amidst the carnage and destruction. It's done by several composers and I feel they done a helluva of a good job at bringing something tasteful and descent across. Love it.

Art Direction
The lead artist who design each of the character and painted them is a very high skill traditional artist. Not only is his/her work tasteful and well done, it really show when fantasy art is done right, it has a level of sophistication. This is a far cry from the rubbish that is so prevalent in title like Champion of Norrath or the Baulder's Gate series.

I feel Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows is a well design and produce game from not just the visual aspect, but the sound, the control, the programming that went into it are all very professionally done. I don't find much fault or broken elements in it. If you could appreciate a title for what it is, this game is indeed a well done product, though opinion is subject to individual's taste and level. When I pick out this game along with Devil May Cry 3 SE, I was sure I will trade this back within days. I don't keep games I don't play. To my surprise, I find the game enjoyable with it's simplistic premise and execution. Yes, it can be repetitive, but what game isn't? Perhaps it could benefit from more RPG elements and customization, I think it would and at the end it's left as an arcade style hack and slash. Audience today demands a lot from software developers, game needs to be not just long, but engrossing with high replay ability. Seven Sorrows has good replay ability, but probably isn't those that take twenty to seventy hours of your life off. I don't play game with long sitting anymore. I barely has time to take break for lunch or dinner and perhaps that's why my experience with it differs so greatly.

Overall Score: 7

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/31/06

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