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     " One particularly disturbing scene in which our "hero" displays his latent pedophilia even turns us against him! "

      Title: Orphen (Scion of Sorcery) by Activision

      Format: Adventure game for the PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: Play as Orphen, the powerful but lazy sorcerer or any of his five companions through a rousing adventure through mediocrity and obnoxious characters. Three full storylines to explore, and lots of spell castin' fun. Okay, so it's paraphrased a bit, but you get the picture. It's an adventure game based on a comic.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: The graphics for this game (like most things for PS2) are pretty darn smooth. And I have to say; this game does distance shots better than any game I've seen in a long time. On the down side, the game suffers from several clipping problems. Although if you consider the magical nature of the game, maybe you really do have x-ray vision, and your companions actually can turn invisible when looked at the wrong way... The in engine cut scenes feature some of the worst lip synchs ever though. Not to mention the fact that you'll often watch your characters making random gyrations while failing to speak for several moments. The rest of the cut scenes are done in animé style. Unfortunately even the anime is likely to leave you wanting something more. 3 out of 5

      Sound: The only game I've ever played where I think I hated my on screen persona. As Orphen, the most obnoxiously voiced character in recent memory; you make your way through peril after peril, only to have to hear him continue speaking! Most of the characters turn in an average job of voice acting, even the whiny female brat that accompanies you seems comes off as less annoying as Orphen himself. To make matters worse, in combat, every time you use a spell, Orphen must of course chant out its name. Believe me, after the 500'Th time hearing "The cooolldd oooofff Deeeesstruuuctionnnn!" you too will be ready to kick the man in the head. On the plus side, the music is pretty good, although nothing memorable, and the sound effects are all well done. 2.5 out of 5

      Game Play: Ugh. …And I considered leaving this with just that disgusted remark. Anyway, the adventure follows the pattern of most 3D adventures these days: A following camera, plenty of puzzles (of the jumping and block moving variety), and some combat to add to the mix. Unfortunately whereas in 1992 when that was new and novel, it's all been seen before. And this game doesn't do it particularly well to boot. The controls are usually responsive enough, unless of course it's crucial, in which case their union demands they go on break. At which point-pressing jump is a fifty/fifty proposition. Combat is even more annoying. Let me just say this: You will not- in all the 12 hours it takes you to beat the game- understand how combat works. The combat (which occurs at scripted times, rather than as random events) is generally you standing firm against a horde of monsters, trying desperately to guess what offensive spell will best kill the monster whom you can't seem to hit properly, because you don't track him correctly. On the cool side, they give you the option to charge your attack for more damage. On the flip of that, while you're trying to charge, you get attacked, and lose all that effort. Worse yet, all those healing items you get while you adventure around? Sorry, can't use them in combat. See that would be useful, and we can't have that. They do give you blocking options, but like most everything else you have to time your block correctly or it's too bad for you. Sorry to expound so much on the combat, but as you progress, you'll find that the combat usually punctuates all of the "important" stuff, and so tends to define the game. Unfortunately it's not done well. 2 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: I have to admit; the level design here was pretty good. Especially since the entire story takes place in one location (practically) so coming up with a good collection was a pretty good challenge. The variety of levels will manage to distract you from the fact that this is a pretty boring game. The environment work is pretty good too; although how so many different climates exist on one little island I will never know. Still everything's pretty enough. 4 out of 5

      Multiplayer: None, and to be honest, I'm quite thankful.

      Replayability: All right, first off, the game will take you -maybe- 12 hours to beat. Believe me though; one play through will be more than enough. Actually, you technically replay the game three times. At the end of each storyline, the game restarts you with a new storyline (more on that in a moment). Will you ever want to take the time to beat the whole triptych again though? No. It just ain't worth it. 2 out of 5 ( and that includes the bonus: plus one point for tricking us into replaying the game automatically).

      Story/Dramatics: Well, as mentioned, the game actually has three storylines. You'd think they could get at least one interesting one out of that many... Anyway, the game involves Orphen getting on the wrong boat and ending up on Chaos Island, where he experiences wacky time travel adventures while picking up vagrant companions all towards the goal of paying their phone bill on time... Actually each companion has his own goal to achieve, and actually achieves it, ending the game forcing you to replay to find out what's actually going on. The bad thing about this entire story is that at no point does any of it make you actually like Orphen at all. As a matter of fact, one particularly disturbing scene in which our "hero" displays his latent pedophilia even turns us against him! Of course, this isn't helped by his horrible voice acting, which I've already expounded on. To the game's credit, it does manage a nice half twist at the end, but don't go getting your hopes up. 3 out of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: I said it before; I'll say it again. You will never fully understand how combat works. For one thing, although you can check out certain monsters hit points from time to time, as well as their elemental standings doing so is a bit of a pain, and you cannot check your own stats. This leaves exactly how many hit points you have left as a bit of a mystery, and an annoying mystery at that. The instructions are a must read, if you hope to have any concept of what you're doing, as are the battle training simulations. Now don't get me wrong, this game is by no means hard. Each story will take you a few hours to work your way through. Even combat isn't exactly hard; just expect to be muddling your way through it, as opposed to actually winning through strategy. 2.5 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: Loading, which is rarely necessary for this game, only takes a few moments to load up a change in scenery. The graphics are all handled very smoothly by the engine, making for easy flowing game play. Not the greatest graphics I've ever seen, but definitely making good use of the systems abilities. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       You know, maybe if this game wasn't so damned obnoxious it would be fun! They really should have named it Orphen: Scion of Jerk-dom. Bad voice acting and combat that will just plain piss you off, followed by a game that is average at best will definitely make you regret plunking down your money on this one monkeys. My recommendation is to pass it up and wait on bigger and better things.

      The Good: It has some cool looking bosses, and uh... some anime? I'm sorry, I got nuthin'.

      The Bad: The voice acting and the combat. Oh lord, the combat.

      The Overall Ugly: Pedophiles and the games they populate (okay, so it was just one remark, but it was sooo disturbing). An average game made worse by bad execution.

      What it's Worth: Maybe $20

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