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     " ...The hacking is fun and adapts well to different play styles... "

      Title: Onimusha 3: Demon Siege by Capcom

      Format: Action / Adventure for the PS2

      Reviewing Monkey: Furious George

      The Hype: The third of the demon-hacking samurai series, now with 3D environments, revised controls, and Jean Reno.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Stepping away from its pre-rendered roots, Onimusha 3 has fully 3D environments and a much more dynamic camera. Of course, the tradeoff is loss of detail in both the backgrounds and models, but the game still looks beautiful. You'll notice consistent slowdown when you pull off some of the more extravagant special moves against a screen full of baddies, but you can forgive it in light of the otherwise solid frame rate, the light-blooms, water effects, and great architecture. 4 out of 5

      Playability: Another dramatic change for the series is in the gameplay - while the basic premise of moving from screen-to-screen, hacking through piles of demon ninjas wearing night-vision goggles and sucking up their energy afterwards to improve you equipment hasn't changed, the controls are more responsive and the pacing is much faster than before. Thankfully, the hacking is fun, and adapts well to different play styles; you can always get through an area if you play cautiously, so the game is never too difficult... and if you've got twitch timing, you can put yourself at risk to pull of a very satisfying chain of hits to eviscerate everything on the screen in a flash.
          Throughout the game, you'll switch between the Samurai Samanosuke and the French special forces guy Jacques. Each plays noticeably differently, and being able to switch out weapons to trade off speed, power, and reach gives the game enough variety to prevent the "run here, kill these guys" gameplay from getting stale too quickly. 4 out of 5

      Story and Drama: You might be thinking, "Jean Reno? He's cool...Takeshi Kaneshiro-- he's hot (and if you're not thinking this, you should be. The man is fine....), and the two of them together in an epic spanning present day and medieval settings sounds like it could be cool." And after watching the jaw-dropping CG intro, you'd probably be pretty pumped. But somewhere between the point when Jean Reno's voice gets replaced by the random American voice-actor and the arrival of the teenage time-traveling fairy who makes it clear that she is going to be with you for the entire game, the realization that this is yet another video game plot will hit home.
           Problem is, it's bad even for a video game plot. The creepy mood cultivated in the first game is tossed out for an attempt at EPIC ADVENTURE that blends cliché with typically bad voice acting and surreally bad dramatic settings. There is some enjoyment to be had watching a Samurai, a ten-year-old boy, and a policewoman speeding away, Return of the Jedi style, from an exploding French cathedral...and then watching the same cathedral in another time get destroyed by a flying Japanese castle on the back of a rocket-propelled demon dragonfly (complete with landing gear)...but not enough to make up for the pain. 1 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: The game is a decently long adventure, and provides you with unlockable weapons, silly costumes, fun mini-games, and a number of difficulty levels. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Overlooking the painful plot (something most gamers should be used to by now), you have a solid action title that rewards skilled playing and provides enough variety and pretty settings to delay the onset of repetitive-hack-n'-slash syndrome.

      The Good: Greatly improved controls over the other two, cutting demons in half is fun, and the CG intro is one of the best.

      The Bad: The plot will cause you pain in your brain organ.

      The Overall Ugly: Kinda plays like a katana controller peripheral. It's a Katana! It's a PS2 controller! And it doesn't really function well as either...

      What it's Worth: Pick it up new if you're a fan of the series, otherwise seek it out used.

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