November 9, 2008

Project "Get me off these shelves!"

Andrew Weymes Says: When you think of Square Enix, space combat doesn't exactly come to mind. I think of turn based battles, and feminine leading male protagonists. While Project Sylpheed does have the latter, it's not a turn based RPG. It's a space combat simulator, and it's really not as bad as you may have heard.

When this game first came out in 2007, it interested me simply because of it's affiliation with Square Enix, and because of the anime art style. Most professional reviews of this game weren't very favorable, and the demo confused me more than anything, so my interest in the game quickly faded.

A few months later, I noticed that Project Sylpheed had dropped in price. It was now $39.99. I still had bad feelings attached to the game, and figured I could get a much better game for another $20.

About two months ago, I was browsing through an EB games, as I usually do on the weekend, and I noticed that Project Sylpheed had dropped in price again, but this time, it was down to the incredibly low price of only $9.99. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is the cheapest game of this generation of consoles. The only game I've found around the same price is Dark Sector for $19.99. I didn't really have to think too much about it, I quickly bought Project Sylpheed for the budget price, as well as a few other games.

When I finally got around to playing Project Sylpheed, I wasn't too content with the game itself. The first thing you will notice about the game is that it has very well done cutscenes in the vain of almost every Square Enix game. The gameplay however, was still very confusing. There are icons all over the screen that may overwhelm you at first. Even if you think you're doing the right thing by attacking the enemies highlighted by red icons, you may be ignoring the objective of protecting your base battleship. This is what I found confusing in the demo, and this is why I waited until it was $9.99 to purchase it.

I almost feel bad now, because after you pass the first few missions, and get a feeling for the way the game plays, it's actually quite enjoyable for the price. The combat is pretty smooth, and each mission has a lot of replay value, because there are several sub-objectives in each mission. The graphics won't blow you away compared to today's standards, but they're colorful, the art style is nice, and the explosion effects aren't bad.

Project Sylpheed allows you to customize your ship. There are many weapons to buy, as well as defensive items, and you will definitely need them, especially on the hard difficulty setting.

Personally, I enjoyed the story, and the cutscenes. They aren't hand drawn anime, but they have a definite anime style to them, and this is probably much of the reason I liked the characters and the story. It reminded me of something like Vandread. If you hate anime, the storyline, and the characters, then this game probably is not for you; but if you're like me, and you're starved for a space combat simulator, I don't see how you can go wrong with Project Sylpheed.

It's a good game, and it should really appeal to budget gamers. The price point is insane, and there is plenty of replayability, especially if you're after all of the achievements, as some of them are really hard to get. If I had to assign Project Sylpheed a score, I would give it a 6/10, and I think that's pretty good for $9.99. There are much worse games you could play for about 4x the price.