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Gallerians: Ash
PS2 Staff Review by Mike Weatherup

For those who are fans of Japanese Anime, the Gallerians series is right up your alley. Sammy Studios and Enterbrain introduced the video game world to the first instalment of Gallerians a couple of years ago. Its main premise was to be an iteration of the survival horror genre that was and is still hot, depending on your perspective. The game had some moments but failed to really grab the attention of the mainstream press and average gamer. Sales, however, were brisk enough to warrant a sequel. Gallerians: Ash continues the series blend of horror and science fiction. The story takes place six years after Rion discovered his own identity as an artificial being and having the courage to destroy the genocidial Mother Computer Dorothy before taking his own life. Now reactivated by Lilia, Rion awakens to discover that Dorothy has managed to execute one final catastrophic program, rendering a new evil breed to finish her goal of human eradication. Ash puts you back into this twisted world, and yes, it is twisted, pitting Rion and Lilia against these last Gallerians.

Upon first playing Ash, the visuals appear very dark. After a few minutes into the game it is clear to see that the graphics suit their purpose of projecting an eerie, dsytopian world but they never really invoke any feelings of excitement. The character animations are good enough but could have used more detail. Regardless, they move about the environment with ease. Unfortunately, the environments leave a lot to be desired. Sure, it is a futuristic story, but I sure hope the future is not this dark and repetitive. The plot hinders the design of the levels. Much of the game and its action take place within the confines of a military base with only four floors. The layout is tedious because everything tends to blend and look the same. More textures that are varied and colours would have been nice. The result is being lost or disoriented at regular intervals throughout the game. This is especially true in later portions of the game where a number of enemies surround you. After putting them away, you are lucky if you can figure out where you are compared to where you were before the enemies engaged you. The brutal camera does not help things either. The camera seems to have a mind of its own when you are too close to obstacles. On the aural sides of things, the music employed works well to invoke feelings of anxiety and pressure. The voice work on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired and is quite uninspiring.

The solid plot really drives your motivation to play through Ash. There are a number of twists and surprises to keep you going through this rather short game. Those looking for a 30-hour experience will be disappointed as it will take most places somewhere in the 10-hour range to complete. Upon completion, there is little excitement to go through the game again. The main issue with the game play comes in the form of the fun factor. For the first hour I played, I kept wondering when things were going to get exciting. They never really did, as there are too many spots, which are a complete, bore. These spots usually involve a ridiculous amount of walking or exploration. If this does not bother you, then you will enjoy it. However, for me, I like more interaction. On the positive side, the real-time battles can be quite enjoyable. These battles allow Rion to employ some devastating and well-animated mental attacks. The optional lock-on system gives players complete control of the battle. Few hiccups in the battle engine hinder it from being complete. To keep Rion focussing properly, you have to seek out drugs. Without them, Rions powers are diminished.

Gallerians: Ash is a great concept that would benefit from further production. If you are fan of the series, then pick this one up. For the rest of you, rent first before passing your own judgement.

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