Project Sylpheed Xbox 360
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Game Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Project Sylpheed is a 3D space-based shooter set in the year 2632 which happens to be five hundred years after humanity left Earth's solar system. Humankind has begun colonizing the galaxy and currently has terraformed eleven different planets. The game casts you in the role of Katana Faraway, a pilot for the Terra Central Armed Forces (TCAF). As with virtually all Square Enix games there's a solid storyline running through the action. Katana, Ellen Bernstein and Margras Mason were three close friends at the TCAF pilot training school. However, when a suspicious terraforming accident destroys Margras' home planet of Acheron, he throws his lot in with the ADAN Freedom Alliance who have declared war with the TCAF.
It would be correct to label Project Sylpheed as an arcade-style space shooter but it would be wrong to think that it lacks depth or indeed isn't a challenging experience. In fact it can be very tough at times, and not just because of time limits, and it's a fair bet that there are a handful of missions here that will cause most a few problems on the first play through. You'll have a variety of missions to complete in the game. These mission types include escort, protect and destroy orders. There probably aren't any mission types that you haven't seen before but they are tied into the storyline nicely so you never feel like you carrying out a mission that's simply there to pad out the experience.
The game offers a choice of control schemes so whether you want a simulation or arcade feel you'll be well covered. If you are a veteran of these games you'll still want to play through the tutorial as it covers the art of supplying during a mission, special moves (such as Berserk Shot, Shield Attack and Overdrive which can be very effective but take energy away from your shields leaving you vulnerable for a while), giving radio orders to your wingmen and advanced controls. These are all pretty much essential if you're to succeed at the game. The advanced manoeuvres are particularly worthwhile learning. You can perform quick 180 degree turns, match the speed of your targeted enemy and activate Padlock Mode which keeps you focused on the targeted enemy.
Project Sylpheed has its own special qualities that help to differentiate it from other 3D space-based shooters. We've already mentioned the advance controls and special moves but perhaps the most interesting feature of all is the Arsenal. Essentially you are given points for completing missions and these points can be used to engineer new weapons. There are guns, beams, lasers, bombs, rockets etc. that all have various stages of development. You can use your points to acquire these new technologies and equip them to your Delta Saber craft. This allows you to tailor your craft in a way that you prefer and really adds some replay quality to the game.
Whilst Project Sylpheed can be immensely enjoyable there are definitely ways the game could have been improved. For one, some missions are actually quite large and are broken into segments, should you fail your mission you'll be given the opportunity to return to the last checkpoint. However should you decide to return to the main menu you'll lose all of your progress and the next time you load up your game you'll be right back at the start of a mission. It's also a shame that the game doesn't have any form of online play. You would have thought a game such as Project Sylpheed would have been perfectly suited for play over Xbox Live but sadly the game is a single-player only title.
The epic space battles in Project Sylpheed look very good. You really get the sense of being involved in a large scale battle and it's pretty satisfying as a visual spectacle. As you might expect, the characters have that anime look to them (actually they are quite similar to the characters in the last Star Ocean game that was released for the PlayStation 2). The cutscenes are of the usual high standard that Square Enix games always seem to have. You could argue the spacecraft could have looked more impressive but they do look good and the sense of scale is impressive with some of the larger spacecraft being particularly large. The frame rate holds up pretty nicely during the intense battles, that's not to say there aren't any frame rate dips, but the dips are infrequent and only minor. The pace of the game is certainly never affected to any great extent.
Project Sylpheed is pleasingly deaf gamer friendly. The game does offer subtitles but by default they are disabled. The game's cutscenes are subtitled simply using white text. The games tutorials are subtitled and an image of the 360 controller is displayed to highlight the controls being used. All mission briefings are shown in text and you get to read them at your own pace. Before the action begins, you'll be given your objectives, hints and defeat conditions in text. During a mission you can recall your objectives by pressing the start button. All of the important communications you receive during a mission are subtitled. These communications are shown at the top left of the screen and have character portraits and names displayed alongside the text so you'll always be aware of who is saying what. You can also recall these communications by looking at the Radio Log which can be accessed mid-mission by pressing the start button. You'll be visually alerted when an enemy has locked on to you and when a missile has been fired at you. You're also notified in text when you've hit or killed an enemy. The game also makes good use of icons to relay information and the game manual does a good job of explaining what each icon means.
The Xbox 360 will soon be approaching the end of its second year and it's good to see games from different genres appearing on the console. Project Sylpheed is an epic space-based shooter that's quite unlike anything else on the 360 at this time. The game offers control systems to cater for those looking for a more simulation type game and also for those who want more of an arcade experience. The additional features such as the special moves, advance controls and of course the Arsenal really helps to make Project Sylpheed a unique experience and one that's really enjoyable. There's a good level of challenge here too. The game could have done with some multiplayer modes if the truth be told but those that are looking for an enjoyable space-based shooter to play on their 360 will be pleased with what Project Sylpheed has to offer.
Project Sylpheed is an enjoyable space-based shooter with some rather unique features and a fairly interesting storyline to help keep things interesting throughout.