STAFF REVIEW of Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception (Xbox 360)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007.
by Tony Ingrassia

Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception Box art Project Sylpheed from Square Enix takes the tried and true space shooter and revamps it for the Xbox 360. Set in a time when humans wonder far past the reaches of its own solar system, making other planets habitable for life and colonization. As in any good story of making things better for humanity, there has to be a faction of people who see things differently than the masses, here in lies part of your story line. Earths military, the Terra Central Armed Forces (TCAF) is now in a constant struggle with rebel forces known as the ADAN Freedom Alliance, if this weren?t enough of a plot line, in true Square Enix fashion, you have a trio of close friends, with one joining the rebels in search of revenge for the destruction of his home planet. Our 3 main characters in Project Sylpheed are, Katana, the main character and your alter ego in this adventure, Ellen and Margras. Margras being the good character gone bad, has now joined forces with the ADAN and Chairman Doris Egan, who rounds off the main protagonists. Good versus evil, friends turned enemies, and humanities struggle for survival, it?s all here, the makings of a great space saga with the noticeable Square Enix look and flare, so lets see where this stellar adventure takes us.

Project Sylpheed starts, again, in true SE (Square Enix) fashion, with the anime look and drama that has made the game developer famous. Elaborate cut scenes lay out the story for you as credits are sprinkled on the screen, intense battle scenes set the visual stage in your mind as to what your going to be thrust into, and the personal struggles of one time friends turned enemies is given a face and an ultimatum. Once the stage is set you have the option of starting your missions right off the bat, or going through a 2 stage tutorial system. Even if you?re familiar with this game style, I would highly recommend going through both the basic and advanced tutorials to give yourself some familiarity with the controls and capabilities of your ship, the Delta Saber. To succeed in this battle you need to utilize all the functionality of your vessel, the Saber along with your basic maneuverability has special moves that can be executed with relative ease by using the ?B? button and the Left stick. The various combinations will execute barrel rolls and 180 degree turns, which will come in handy when trying to shake off enemy missiles.

Along with the movement of the Saber is the fire power of the ship. You are able to equip a variety of weapons custom fit to various points on the ship, interchanging weapons is again a simple task via the ?X? button, and switching targets is achieved via the ?A? button. The control scheme is relatively simple to handle, along with the aforementioned button assignments, your ship can accelerate, decelerate, use afterburners, and with some practice use Power Cut techniques that will keep the nose of your ship pointed at your target as you glide by it scoring multiple hits and damage. The Saber is also equipped with an on board radar very similar to many you?ve seen before, enemies in red Friendly in green. It also has a side bar that indicates enemy distance, avoiding ammunition waste due to targets being out of range. The HUD (Heads Up Display) is a bit daunting at first, but once you know what everything is, you know what to zero in on at any given moment

Project Sylpheed is mission based with the usual fare, protect, destroy and accompany. There is emphases put on squadron commands and objectives, shooting enemies willy nilly will get you a scolding form your team, and a reminder of what the task at hand is, such as targeting specific crafts or objects first. Missions usually have multiple stages making the battles rage on for quite a while, with each completion you receive your Mission details, enemies destroyed, objective accomplished, etc?earning you credits for your fighting performance, along with a mission ranking.

Here is where I found the ?Difference? the 2 things that really made the game a bit more than I originally thought it would be. After each mission you unlock new weapons that can be equipped in the ?Hangar? giving your Saber a bit of customization to your style of fighting, keep in mind though, that just because it?s your favorite weapon it may not necessarily be the right one. The other section is the ?Arsenal? you can spend credits here to develop new weapons for your ship. These may seem like small things, but it does make the game a bit more immersive than your standard space fighter and keeps you going back for more in terms of trying different weaponry to up your ranking, in tern giving the missions a bit of life. Don?t get me wrong, Project Sylpheed is a polished ?Pivot Point? style aerial attack game, reminiscent of many old school games like it, but the non stop action and SE intermingled cut scenes make it shine brighter than its predecessors. Visually the in game graphics are a bit delirious, the HUD is constantly filled with information, vapor trails and numerous identification markers. Outside of the heavily ?Anime? flavored cut scenes Project Sylpheed really hasn?t got a lot to offer visually, this also rolls in to the sound department, the dialogue is standard fare, typical commands and instructions are barked out during battles, and the voice acting during the more dramatic banter is again, nothing new or exciting.

Overall Project Sylpheed has quite a bit to offer to the genre, it?s amazingly detailed in its simplicity, easy to pick up and play and it will keep you plugging away for a bit. Not the longest of games and the lack of multi-player options as well as any Xbox Live support shortens its shelf life even more. In the end I enjoyed the game even though its not really my cup of tea, those who enjoy aerial combat and any of the many space combat games set in the Star Wars universe should definitely give Project Sylpheed a try, others may get bored with the repetitiveness found in games like this making it a hard sell, not to mention holding there interest long enough to get past the first few missions and getting more involved with the storyline.

Square Enix does a commendable job taking an ?Old School? style game and giving it a current day overhaul.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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