Voice Module

Reviews

Previews

Features

Classic

Archive

Contact

Gallery


In Memory
Sean Pettibone






Capcomís unique PN03 is set to light up the Gamecube this fall. This intriguing shooter stars a sexy heroine as she battles an army of deadly mechs and robots in a variety of bleak environments. PN03ís gameplay mechanics are quite interesting, as players attack their robotic foes using energy from their hands, not the standard weapons. Visually, the gameís stark, minimalist design is quite striking, giving it a unique look. PN03 already looks like a sleeper hit, but does it have enough appeal to capture the mainstream audience? We take a look and find out if it can cross over.

PNO3 looks to be one of the most-interesting Gamecube titles this year and is coming from director Shinji Mikami, who also brought the world the Resident Evil (Biohazard) series.The game is set in a variety of sleek futuristic sci-fi environments. Players control a mercancy fighter named Vanessa Z. Scheider. She has been chosen for the mission for a variety of reasons. Several years beforehand, the technology known as CAMS (Computer Arms Management System) was used in the colonization of planets. This technology became the norm and planet colonists came to depend on it. Unfortunately, CAMS fatally malfunctions and kills the entire colony, including Vanessaís family. She has enlisted to get revenge and find out what happened and her mission is dangerous, taking her through a computer-controlled nightmare. Her missions will not only help her to defeat the robot forces, but find the truth behind her parentís death. During the game, sheíll battle an army of mechs and robots bent on destroying her. She is taking part in a mercenary operation to liberate a planet from a menace that has turned this colony into a death trap.

Vanessa is quite maneuverable and a bit more stylish than in most other games. She can move with a grace ands style that is almost like dancing. She needs to be nimble, because while her moves are choreographed, she finds herself under attack constantly. This should give PN03 a completely unique feel as far as third-person action titles go. most other games fail to match. She has an array of moves and can jump or duck behind corners, or slice enemies before they know what hit them. To help her along in each mission, Venessa is equipped with a form-fitting full-body Aegis Suit. This contains the computers and electronics she needs in the game, plus keeps her body functions at optimal strength. There nine different Aegis suits in the game, each one gives Vanessa a different set of abilities and attacks. As you upgrade the suits, Vanessa gains more skill and speed, plus more powerful attacks. She has two basic methods of attack. Instead of using weapons to destroy her enemies, Vanessa will instead use the laser beam that resides in her hands. This allows her two use either Palm Shots which is Vanessaís Normal attack mode and shoots at locked-on targets or she can use the powerful Energy Drives. These Energy Drives are special attacks that are capable of extensive destruction. EDís lock onto main enemy and can cause massive damage to multiple enemies simultaneously. To help her manage these attacks, she will have to keep an eye on her Power Gauge system during each mission. There are two basic gauges. The Energy Drive Gauge which shows how much Energy she has and is consumed when you use the energy drive to fire on opponents. The other thing she needs to be aware of is her Barrier Gauge This shows Vanessaís health and the game ends when she runs out of Barrier energy. Her gauges can be recharged by finding power-up items in various locations throughout each mission.

While she earns points for attacking enemies no matter what, Vanessa can increase her score in a variety of way. The easiest way for her to do this is to use PN03ís unique Combo System that rewards players not just for accuracy, but for style as well. When Venessa succeeds in hitting enemies with connecting attacks in a short period of time, her combo gauge increase. The more efficient she is at dispatching enemies, the higher your combo goes. You earn more points and can use these points to buy Aegis suits, and other upgrades between rounds. During the game, Venessa will carry out commands from clients in each mission she faces and wonít be able to go on to the next level until all the requirements are met. During each mission, Venessa will have to use all her energy attacks and other skills wisely, because the world is filled with robots and mechs that have her in their crosshairs. Sheíll face many different types of these including stationary and moving mechs, plus will have to maneuver past force beams and other obstacles to move on to the next level. After awhile, her instincts will kick in as she faces many of the same types of robots. However, just when she thinks she has them figured out, the CAMS system reacts to her presence and adjusts to her tactics. , the robots can transform into other shapes and unexpectedly attack her with a huge laser, giving PN03 a sense of the unexpected.

As you can tell from the screenshots, PN03ís stark visual style is quite unique and sets PN03 apart from many other action titles on the market. The sharp contrast between the whites and blacks in the interior spaceship sections give the game beautiful feel. However, all of the game doesnít take place indoors and Vanessa will also have to fight the mechs in desolate alien environments. PN03 will include 11 different levels in all, and the maps have been designed not just for aesthetic beauty, but to heighten the excitement as well. The gameís monochromatic approach has another benefit in that it crystallizes the onscreen action. While Mikamiís Biohazard games focused on darkness, PN03 takes the opposite approach. It emphasizes white with curved surfaces, minimalist backgrounds to give it a more Ďfeminineí look. Enemy designs will also be minimalist, with beautiful designs that make them seem simple to defeat. This visual approach makes the action easy to understand and comprehend. the backdrops seem almost minimalist, PN02 hopes to strike a balance to keep the delicate form intact throughout the game. The animation is also looking quite impressive, with Vanessaís acrobatic moves, dazzling special attacks and intensely detailed modeling giving her an almost lifelike appearance throughout. Overall, PN03ís sophisticated style is incredibly cohesive, giving it a distinctive flair.

PN03 isnít your run of the mill shooter and defies expectations in a number of ways. Itís got some interesting gameplay mechanics that should give the combat a lot of style and flair. Vanessa herself is a cool, sexy character who should be an engaging presence throughout the game.The gameís stylish level design is excellent and far above whatís expected in most other action titles. However, it wonít be all looks and no substance, because the game is expected to deliver lots of intense action with brutal firefights along with some puzzle elements. With an innovative design already evident, and Mikamiís sterling track-record, PN03 is shaping up to be one of the most talked about and highly anticipated Gamecube titles coming out this year. The biggest question is whether the mainstream audience will embrace it. If final game lives up to the promise and if it plays as well as it looks, PN03 definitely has a shot at becoming a major new franchise for Capcom.

> Related Articles 

Gotcha Force Preview (Gamecube)
Rebel Strike Preview
(Gamecube)
Cy Girls Preview (PS2)
Gradius V Preview (PS2)
Sphinx Preview (PS2)
Power Stone 2 (Dreamcast)