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    Oni

    By Vinh 'Zero' Jones
    Publisher: Take Two Interactive
    Developer: Bungie
    Genre: Action
    Format: PC, Macintosh, Playstation 2
    Release Date: 3rd Quarter 2000
    Multiplayer: Internet (Multiplayer)

    Yep. Oni is one of those games again. With numerous delays behind its back and a recent buyout of it's developers, fans were wondering if they would see the tough as nails heroine. I know I was. The game combines martial arts, anime, big robots and a spunky female lead all into one game. Groovy.

    The main lead is Konoko of the Technology Crime Task Force, or TCTF for short. In the time 2032, huge cities with towering skyscrapers have been built, and technology is unparalleled. Crime is rampant, and the Syndicate is the TCTF's main target. And to take them down, they need the best of the best. That's where you come in.

    As can be seen from the shots, there is a big anime influence in the game. The storyline resembles Ghost in the Shell; a animated movie that the programmers confessed was a source of inspiration. And Oni has all the requisite anime elements; the over the top action, a ponderous if somewhat simple story, and a strong female lead mark for a fun romp.

    And what a fun one it will be. One of the more unique aspects of Oni is that real architects used Computer Aided Design techniques for all seventeen levels. The result are realistic multi-leveled stages and everything is done to scale. The levels are huge, and you're allowed to make your own decision on what is the best plan.

    Of course, when making a game with as much hardcore action as Oni, one most not forget the environment itself. To be short, everything is "live". You can do anything you would do logically in life, such as kick things over or jump off walls [and most importantly, you can go at it, John Woo style! Those guys at Bungie has implemented the ability to hold two separate weapons at once]. Hopefully, Oni will be more like Jackie Chan using everything to his advantage than Final Fight, where grabbing a chair and bashing people with it is law. Bungie emphasized that the game focuses on action. There is less on exploring and more on beating the crap out of other people. With both armed and unarmed combat at your fingertips, it's doubtful that you'll ever be bored.

    Speaking of the unarmed combat, it's a mix of styles really, be it martial arts or street brawling or wrestling. Basically, anything that looked cool will be included in the game. The controls will be relatively simple, as not to scare away the newer gamers. It will follow the layout of a first-person shooter [keep in mind that Oni is strictly third person], there will be a punch and kick button added. There will be just one button for each instead of two or three. Depending on the direction or how many times you combine the buttons with, you can perform different and spectacular moves.

    Third person reminds me of Tomb Raider, and that reminds me of its horrible camera system. At least one of the main problems from earlier third-person games will be addressed. Anything obstructing the view of your line of sight will be rendered transparent so you can keep your eye on the action.

    By building this engine from the ground up, Bungie was able to put in interpolation animation. In a nutshell, it allows you to interrupt your own frames of animation. So instead of waiting for that kick animation to finish before you start shooting, you can interrupt it without delay.

    But, it seems that the multiplayer options that were promised have been taken out. It was new to me, so I checked out some Oni fansites. Unfortunately, it's true. And for those that are worrying that Oni will be set back because of the acquisition from Microsoft, don't be. Take Two now holds the rights to the game and is able to use the engine for other purposes.

    After numerous delays, Oni is shaping up to a great game and I'm itchy to get my hands on it. Fortunately, it will be available this fall [if all goes well], and I'll be having a black and blue Christmas. Oni will be available for the PC, Mac, and now the Playstation 2. The PS2 version will ship at launch. For the uninitiated, Oni means demon or ghost in Japanese. Enigmatic, no?


    GameSurge also has a gallery for Oni. You can view the images and screenshots by clicking here.

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