Average User Score: 7.5Jun 28, 2013Narrative:
Be warned, do not attempt to wrap your brain around Project X Zone’s fractured fairy tale. Stringing together a cohesive plot with hundreds of characters from multiple franchises across three companies is a train wreck waiting to happen. While the narrative might not make much logical sense, I doubt even the likes of Hideo Kojima could turn this mess into a masterpiece. The overarching story is your standard save the world trope. How exactly does this diverse cast find themselves in the same game? Simple: A mysterious stone has been stolen by a group of baddies which has the ability to merge these realities into one world.
To Monolith’s credit it’s evident a genuine effort was put forth to relate the characters, however different, to one another. For instance, when Ling Xiaoyu of Tekken bumps into Pai of Virtua Fighter, she instantly recognizes her as a martial arts action movie star. Just one of the little exchanges of dialogue between characters that adds to the charm of the game. It helps elevate an otherwise average narrative and is the kind of humorous banter which truly makes the game endearing.
Monolith also took advantage of the rich soundscape afforded to them because of this team up. The music of each franchise is almost as iconic as the characters themselves. There are a few original tracks, but for the most part the soundtrack is filled with memorable remixed versions of these classic melodies. There is something indescribably amazing about doing battle as the opening stage music to Mega Man X4 blares through your speakers. Even obscure songs, such as ‘Primitive Force (Theme of our Hero)’ from Sega’s Gain Ground, make it in the mix. This all adds to the previously mentioned fan service found in the story.
The original Japanese voice overs have been kept intact for the American release. This is much preferred over an English dub which would have been expensive and unnecessary.
As an avid fan of all things 2S, PXZ is a testament to the goodness of sprite artwork. Considering the hundreds of characters which had to to be individually translated into sprites then animated, it’s an impressive feat. Each character is drawn in a similar style to fit within the world of PXZ. For the most part this translation works well with just a few exceptions (I’m can’t put my finger on it but sometimes the polygon characters look a tad off).
Beyond the fidelity of the sprites is the fluid animation. Every character has dozens of unique animations along with a handful of special/super attack animations. Four to five characters on screen at once showering the enemy with a flurry of attacks looks awesome if not rather visually assaulting.
This is where the game distances itself from other tactics based RPGs. If you’re familiar with the Super Robot Wars series you’ll be fairly comfortable with the controls from the word go. Like its brethren, battles take place on an isometric grid. Though it’s when a your hero faces off against an enemy that the perspective changes to a side scrolling, dare I say, fighting game style. Dubbed the “Cross Active Battle System”, you control a single hero or a pair of heros who can utilize different button combinations to attack the enemy in real time. Not only are the number of attacks limited but juggling baddies becomes integral. Juggled enemies cannot block which then allows you to continue your barrage of attacks giving you the ability to pull off the aforementioned seizure inducing super moves.
You also have control of support allies who can join the fray by attacking the enemy via the “Support Hit” and “Cross Hit” abilities. If your hero of choice happens to be in close enough proximity to another hero, you can call on them to inflict a special attack on the enemy in the middle of the battle. Therein lies part of the depth and strategy. Timing is absolutely essential to pulling off massively damaging combos.
There were a few small lingering issues. Such as the way the in game scenery seems to get in my way from time to time when I’m trying to plan my attack. Lastly there will always be the complaint of “Why isn’t character “X” in this game?!” To that I say deal with it. You can’t make everyone happy. I feel the characters selected for the game are a healthy mix of the iconic to the obscure.
In the end you pretty much already know if you’re going to like this game or not. There’s no deep underlying themes or story line. It’s an addictively fun Japanese action RPG with all the fan service any Namco, Sega, or Capcom fan could want. It trades long winded exposition for pulse pounding exhibition. For that I absolutely love it. You can tell the Monolith loves these franchises as much as their respective fans.
If you can appreciate Project X Zone for the highly tuned experience it is, you’ll find yourself lost in a game with few equals in terms of both gameplay and fun.… Expand