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Robotech: Battlecry
PS2 Staff Review by Ryan McCarthy

Im not sure if many of you are old enough to remember Robotech, so Ill give a little summary of the classic series. Back in the 80s, Robotech stormed the Western Saturday-morning cartoon scene big time, and introduced us all to the beauty that is anime. A highly inventive and stylized cartoon full of action, drama and suspense, Robotech was simply a pure delight. It also happened to be many a kids (mine!) all time favourite show. Yet, Robotech-licensed video games never seemed to be able to capture that magic, and they all ended up being well, terrible. But now thanks to TDK, that streak is broken. Developer Vicious Cycles Robotech: Battlecry is the game us fans have been waiting a long, long time for. And man, is it good!

Frankly, Battlecry looks better than any of the Robotech shows (even on DVD) ever did. Vicious Cycle opted for the use of the somewhat maligned cel-shading, which in turn looks absolutely stunning. Never has a license been so properly translated visually than in Battlecry, as everything from the effects to the Veritechs are perfectly in tune with their animated brethren. Speaking of Veritechs, the transformable fighters have been crafted beautifully, with loads of detail and solid animation. The transformations between the Veritechs three modes are smooth and fast, without any clipping or stuttering of any kind.

The enemies and allies arent rendered in as much detail as the Veritechs, aside however from the infamous green Zentraedi Capital Ships. The games environments suffer as well, especially the cityscapes. Bland buildings and repetitive color schemes detract from the ground missions, as it seems every city looks the same as the last. On the upside, the framerate is solid regardless of the amount of onscreen action, which by the way there is an absolute ton! All those die-hard fans (me!) can rest easy too, as Robotechs trademark missile-trails looks stunning in Battlecry. Loads of missiles litter the screen with white streaks trailing behind, and it couldnt help but bring a tear to my eye almost every time...

There was never much doubt as to whether Battlecry would be able to emulate the series well visually; the doubt was always towards it being a decent playing game. Thankfully Battlecry is a very capable shooter (if a bit short on uniqueness) with loads of intense action. The only real innovation though are the Veritech transformations, but they are all executed well and do provide a good dose of strategy during each mission. The three Veritech forms control very well (especially the Fighter) and never feel too complex or confusing, even despite each having its own scheme. Switching between the Fighter (the jet), Battloid (the mech) and the Guardian (the half-mech, half-jet) and finding the most effective form for each situation is critical. In a few missions it can seem a bit vague which form to use, but after some playing the strengths and weaknesses of each become second nature.

At its heart Battlecry is still an action-packed shooter, and a damn fine executed one at that. All ammunition is limitless, though the cannon can overheat (requiring a few precious seconds to charge back up), and the amount of missiles depletes with use (again, requiring just a few seconds to fully reload). The missile-lock-on mechanism (found in the Fighter and Guardian modes; not the Battloid) is fantastic, as by holding down the circle button you can lock-on-to and fire at anywhere from 4-6 enemies at once. Considering each target sends a volley of around 5-6 missiles flying, locking onto 6 baddies and letting 35-odd rockets loose is exhilarating to say the least. The cannon on both Battloid and Guardian modes have an auto-lock allowing for the pilot to strafe and boost avoiding fire, all the while blissfully blasting away. Both modes control a little on the slow side, as turning and strafing isnt quite as swift as it was portrayed in the show. The Fighter though, is nice and quick and like typical flight-shooters, has a yellow reticule that appears near each enemy in order to aim with its cannon. The missile-less Battloid, upon hitting the circle button, fires its cannon at ultra-high speeds, automatically targeting and destroying enemy missiles; a crucial skill I highly recommend perfecting. The only hindrance to the targeting system is the fact that to lock onto an enemy, they must be visible on screen. The excellent radar helps to a degree, but its quite a nuisance when you can see an enemy, but cant initiate a lock.

Sadly, a few flaws accompany all the great action, and only serve to hold Battlecry back from becoming a classic shooter. Something most all shooters suffer from is lack of mission variety, and Battlecry is no different. By the half-way mark youll have pretty much seen every variation, as later sorties are just slight changes to the formula. The difficulty of the missions is also a little unbalanced, as some missions are abnormally harder than others; though it never becomes unbearable. Some of the boss battles (one at the end of each of the 5 chapters) are ludicrous as well, as their weapons are much more destructive than yours. These are degraded to basic shoot-and-hide strategies, and take away from the action-packed nature of Robotech. Yet Battlecry just seems to be one of those rare games in which its flaws aren't as detracting as they should be.

As soon as the classic Robotech theme filled the room, I immediately wanted to give the sound a score of 10. But thats the fan talking, not the reviewer. The rest of the score is (for some weird reason) all new and recomposed material, and isnt quite as good as the original. Some tracks though are quite good and fit in surprisingly well to the Robotech theme. The sound effects as well are redone but unlike the score, seem to fit in perfectly. The missiles, the cannons and all the different sounds of the Veritechs and Zentraedi Battle Pods are pretty much identical to the old series.

TDK and Vicious Cycle did well to get all the original voice actors back (Rick, Lisa, etc.) to record all the dialogue, which in turn is very well done. Cam Clarke (of Metal Gear fame) was brought in to voice Jack Archer, the games protagonist. Its a shame though no new anime sequences were created, as all the voice is either against decently drawn stills or poorly done in-game cutscenes. The script is lackluster as well, and both prevent the story from being anything but bland, intermission filler.

Shooters never usually have huge play value; however Battlecry is certainly in the upper percentile of the bunch. With over 40 missions and three difficulty levels, shooter-lovers and Robotech fans will certainly get a good bang for their buck. There is also an added two-player mode, though the split-screen really hampers the enjoyment of it. There are numerous medals that can be acquired as well throughout the story mode, which in turn open up a ton of extras. You can unlock different Veritechs, new multi-player arenas and even alternate paint schemes. The biggest downfall to all this though is that if youre not a big Robotech fan, the extras really arent all that exciting.

Finally. Thats the best word to describe Battlecry, as for fans like me its been far too long (actually its been FOREVER!) a wait for a great Robotech game. This game was made by fans, for fans, and TDK has done a wondrous job. But what about for those who arent enamored (fools!!) with this classic series? Even without the license, Battlecry is still a great shooter, and one Id recommend to anyone interested in the genre. And as for all the ardent fans out there, well, you should know by now. The wait is over. Robotech. Is. Back.

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