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Project Sylpheed
Project Sylpheed.jpg
European box cover art
Developer(s) Game Arts, SETA, Anima
Publisher(s) Square Enix
EU / NA Microsoft Game Studios
Composer(s) Kenichiro Fukui
Junya Nakano
Kumi Tanioka
Native resolution 720p
Platform(s) Xbox 360
Release date(s) JP September 28, 2006
EU June 29, 2007
NA July 10, 2007
AUS July 19, 2007
Genre(s) Space combat simulator
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) CERO: B
ESRB: T (Teen)
PEGI: 12+
USK: 12
Input methods Xbox 360 controller

Project Sylpheed (プロジェクト シルフィード ?), also known as Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception in North America, is a space simulation console game developed by SETA and published by Square Enix. It is acknowledged as the spiritual successor to the Silpheed video game series,[1] which were scrolling shooters. Project Sylpheed, however is fully 3D, allowing dogfights in all three vectors of space.

Placing the player at the beginning of a rebellion in a fictional 27th century, Project Sylpheed has a huge variety of weapons and augmentations to configure the protagonist's starfighter with, providing fast-paced action against small enemy fighters and large warships alike. The game also bears Square Enix's traditional integration of a story into the gameplay, but was received with mixed results, most of its features receiving either praise or criticism.

Contents

Gameplay

Taking the role of a rookie pilot, players fly the Delta Saber starfighter in Project Sylpheed's campaign that comprises 16 missions.[2] Missions typically have objectives such as to destroy specific enemy targets and to protect allied ships. There are also optional sub-objectives in each mission;[3] players have to complete certain tasks within a time limit or without taking damage.

Flying the Delta Saber from a first-person in-cockpit view, players engage enemies in dogfights.

Controlling the Delta Saber from a first person in-cockpit perspective, players use the controller's thumbstick to fly the starfighter in any direction.[4] By pressing the maneuver button and pushing the thumbstick in a direction, the fighter can be made to perform aileron rolls and 180-degrees turns (half-loops). The Delta Saber's speed is controlled by pressing various button combinations; players can activate afterburners for a great boost in speed, cut power to let the fighter drift on inertia, or make the Saber match its speed with a target. Certain maneuvers require the expenditure of shield energy.[5] Shields protect a starship's hull from damage; they have to be depleted by attacks before the ship's armor can be damaged. A ship is destroyed when its shields and armor are depleted.[6]

At the start of the game, low-level missiles, guns, beams, and bombs are available for players to customize their ship with.[7] Advanced weaponry—possessing greater damage, range, and targeting abilities—becomes available in the later stages of the campaign by accomplishment of certain goals and by purchase. Purchasing is done with the points gained by completing missions. These points are determined by factors such as the number of enemies destroyed, the time the mission is completed in, and the number of sub-objectives completed. Besides functioning as currency, they act as a score for the players' performance.[8]

After completing the campaign, players can replay it in a New Game Plus mode; the weapons and equipment they have collected can be used at the start of the replay.[3] Apart from the campaign, the game offers six standalone missions that are downloaded from Xbox Live. These missions offer different themes, such as killing as many enemies within a time limit, and online leaderboards for players to compare their scores against each other.[9]

Plot and setting

The game takes place in a fictional 27th century in which human civilization has expanded beyond Earth for 500 years. Many worlds have been colonized under the rule of Terra Central Government (TCG). Seated on Earth, the government suppresses uprisings with military force.[10] The story starts in an in medias res manner, players begin their first mission as a war breaks out between TCG and ADAN Freedom Alliance. The events leading to the war are told via frequent flashback sequences; four star-systems had banded together as the ADAN Alliance, engaging in politics to seek independence from the TCG.[11] The central government's response was to destroy the terraforming facilities of an alliance planet, Acheron, killing many inhabitants and causing the world to become inhospitable.[12] The TCG covered up how the planet was destroyed,[13] but its act has precipitated the war.

Characters

Katana Faraway, a young pilot for the Terra Central Armed Forces (TCAF). Through cut scenes, Katana's character is evidenced to be brash, and emotional. He possesses a sense of strong loyalty to his friends, and affiliation. The player gets to experience Katana's interactions with many of his fellow soldiers, including the gradual falling in love with Ellen Bernstein, a close friend of Katana who has been with him since their days at the pilot training school.

The game's antagonists are the ADAN forces. The most prominent among them is Margras Mason, a close friend of Katana and Ellen. He is evicted from Earth, and witnesses his homeworld's (Acheron) death at the hands of the TCAF.[12] He joins the ADAN forces, and leads his Night Ravens to exact vengeance on the TCAF.[14] Commanding the ADAN forces is Doris Egan, the daughter of a prominent anti-government activist who is killed during the TCAF's attack on Acheron.[15] Like Margras, she is also pursuing vengeance but with extreme methods.[16]

The character designs are likened to those seen on contemporary Japanese animation—dyed hair of various colors, generously-endowed female chests, and pretty boys.[17][18] Katana's character is typical of most Square Enix games' protagonists—androgynous but deadly, a humorous combination.[19] It has also been commented that the character designs are very similar to Square Enix's Final Fantasy line,[17] and prone to being overly emotional.[20]

Story

The story starts at the Lebendorf star system where Katana's squadron is ambushed by ADAN forces. Losing a pilot, the Delta Sabers fight their way through along with their mother ship, the Acropolis. During the withdrawal, Katana is warned by Margras to leave the TCAF on the account of their friendship. The Acropolis withdraws to the planet Hargenteen where the TCAF is massing against ADAN's onslaught.[21] After repairs, the carrier joins a task force on a mission to lure away part of ADAN's fleet by attacking deep into the enemy's territory.[22] Tricked into a trap, the force commander abandons Acropolis and flees. Shooting down Margras while defending the carrier, Katana lands at Margras' crash site and learns the true story of Acheron's destruction as he engages his old friend in a fistfight.

After Margras was picked up by ADAN, Katana returns to the Acropolis as it flees back to Hargenteen. In the subsequent battles, Acropolis and its fellow defenders hold off the ADAN forces. However, Egan's arrival with her secret weapon, the Prometheus Driver, shifts the battle to ADAN's favor. With a single shot, the beam released by the Driver destroys most of the planet's defenders, as well as several ADAN ships; the surface of Hargenteen is incinerated by the attack. Unable to damage the superweapon with its few remaining combat-capable ships, the TCAF retreats to Earth. Her mind set on revenge, Egan announces ADAN's next target to be Earth despite Margras' heavy disapproval.[23]

Scouting ahead of ADAN's main force, Margras' squadron is challenged and wiped out by Katana's fighters. Captured by the TCAF, Margras is persuaded by Katana to defect; he informs the TCAF about the Promethus Driver's weaknesses. In the final battle, Margras flies alongside Katana, destroying many of ADAN's ships and sacrificing himself to clear a way for Katana to reach the Driver's firing mechanism. Destroying the mechanism, Katana causes the superweapon to implode and finds himself caught in the resulting gravitational well. However, Margras' spirit appears and helps his friend to escape. In the post-credits scene, Katana and Ellen are shown standing with each other on a revitalized Acheron.

Development

Project Sylpheed was first announced by Square Enix on April 5, 2006.[24] At a Microsoft Xbox 360 conference in Tokyo, Japan, the publisher said that the game would be the company's first exclusive title for the Xbox 360. This was part of Enix's strategy to diversify its market, spreading its portfolio among the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii market segments.[25] Initially called Project Sylph, the game was renamed Project Sylpheed to give it a closer association with its predecessor, Silpheed.[1] Sylpheed's development would also be handled by the developers of Silpheed, Game Arts.

Game Arts' presence on the project was, however, more of a supervisory role. The game was conceived and developed by SETA's Ikusabune team, which comprised former Game Arts employees who had worked on the Silpheed series. They intended to use the latest technology at that time to produce a sequel to Silpheed. The power of available technology convinced the team to create a game that offered a three-dimensional playing arena; players could move in any direction, instead of being restricted to a fixed path as in standard rail shooters. A computer graphics studio, Anima, was brought in to develop the game's story and characters.[2] The studio linked the individual missions with movies to create an overarching storyline. The product of this collaboration was showcased at Tokyo Game Show 2006;[26] journalists commented that the space shooter had simpler controls and an easier learning curve than space flight simulators, as well as nice and sharp graphics.[6][27]

Project Sylpheed first went on sale in Japan on September 28, 2006; Square Enix published the game with only Japanese text and audio. Microsoft Game Studios handled the game's release for Europe and North America, spending months to localize Sylpheed for the English-speaking market. Voice actors known for their work in the Western anime industry were brought in; Vic Mignogna—known for his work in Fullmetal Alchemist and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross—voiced Katana, and Kari Wahlgren—whose numerous works include Blood+ and Final Fantasy XII—provided the voice for Ellen. The demo of the game was available for downloading over Xbox Live on June 14, 2007,[28] and the game was on sale outside of Japan two weeks later.[29][30] On July 25, the game's downloadable content was made available for free on Xbox Live.

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 66.0%[31]
Metacritic 64 / 100[32]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com B[33]
Eurogamer 7 / 10[8]
Famitsu 29 / 40[34]
G4 2 / 5[35]
Game Informer 7.75 / 10[36]
GamePro 2.5 / 5[37]
GameSpot 5.5 / 10[38]
IGN 5.9 / 10[3]

Project Sylpheed's reviews were mixed, with scores as high as 7.75/10 and as low as 2/5. The average of these scores as measured by Metacritic and Game Rankings would classify the game to be rated as above average (~65%). Criticism and praise of the game's features were as mixed as the scores given for it.

Critics were split on the game's graphics. Writing in 2007, Play Magazine called the game "by far the prettiest free-roaming shooter ever created",[32] whereas Hooked Gamers decried a lack of details on the ships.[39] GamesAreFun felt seeing "missile contrails and thruster wash streaking across the stars" was captivating,[40] while IGN claimed the explosions look like "bloody snot".[3] All of the reviewers, however, agreed on the presence of slow downs in the framerate when a large number of ships and details are on screen, though their opinions vary on how much this affects gameplay experience.

The characters of the game have been called "cliched" by reviewers

The integration of a story into the game was meant to make Project Sylpheed stand out amongst other space shooters, and this has succeeded to a degree with reviews calling the story "absolutely the best part of the game".[3][20] It was also judged mature, presenting moral ambiguity in a well told tale.[40] On the flipside, the story has been called just as cliched as the characters,[17][35] especially to those who have viewed lots of science fiction action anime series.[19][37] Game Informer called the characters "predictable" but the cut scenes a "welcome reward after a big fight",[36] while G4tv felt that the plot gives no incentive to watch these scenes.[35] They were also considered intrusive to reviewers who were more partial to the dogfighting.[41] Most reviews considered the voice acting adequate or decent.

Project Sylpheed's gameplay was praised for its intense dogfights taking place in space. Nevertheless, The A.V. Club and G4tv, felt the small, distant targets force the player to constantly focus on the instruments, taking away the feeling of being a real dogfighting spacefighter.[35][42] Likewise the time and effort needed to master the complex controls of the game could turn away some players. Critics from G4tv and GamePro have found the gameplay could be reduced to a repetitive "find target, lock on, shoot and kill, resupply, find target…" sequence,[35][37] which is not helped by what TeamXbox called a one-dimensional mission design.[20]

The hidden time limits garnered the most negatives among critics, with several reviewers calling it frustrating and annoying,[3][33] as the player can fail missions after being given only a short time frame to chase down the last remaining objectives. Most of the reviews were united in being critical of the game lacking online features, and even though this was slightly mitigated by the free downloadable content later released, there was still a bit of disappointment, succinctly summed up by the Armchair Empire's preference to "blow up [their] friends over Xbox Live than just have rankings and downloadable content".[43] Despite the mixed reviews, Project Sylpheed has sold enough copies to make it into Xbox' Platinum Collection on November 1, 2007.[30]

References

  1. ^ a b Anoop Gantayat (2006-07-07). "Project Sylph Renamed". IGN. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/717/717122p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-08.  
  2. ^ a b Anoop Gantayat (2006-08-30). "Project Sylpheed Update". IGN. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/729/729389p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-08.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f Erik Brudvig (2007-07-19). "Project Sylpheed Review". IGN. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/806/806711p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  4. ^ Anoop Gantayat (2006-09-29). "Project Sylpheed Import Playtest". IGN. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/736/736537p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  5. ^ Microsoft (2007-06-29). ""Project Sylpheed" Briefing: Engagement". Press release. http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/13846/Project-Sylpheed-Briefing-Engagement/. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  6. ^ a b Charles Onyett (2006-09-22). "TGS 2006: Project Sylpheed Hands-On". IGN. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/734/734435p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  7. ^ Microsoft (2007-07-13). "Project Sylpheed Briefing: Weapons". Press release. http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/14002/Project-Sylpheed-Briefing-Weapons/. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  8. ^ a b Simon Parkin (2007-06-28). "Review - Project Sylpheed". Eurogamer. http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=78588. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  9. ^ Microsoft (2007-07-25). "Project Sylpheed and Vampire Rain Get Updates". Press release. http://games.ign.com/articles/808/808673p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  10. ^ SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Narrator: However, as a result of the Terra Central Government's continued authority over the colonized planets, political unrest regarding Terra's arbitrary rule began to spread. In time, this discontent led to armed conflict in various locations... but Terra's vast military power always suppressed the sporadic resistance in the name of maintaining public order."
  11. ^ SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Narrator: Finally, in 2628... 4 star systems banded together to gain independence from Terra. The coalition called itself the ADAN Alliance, taking the first letter from each of the 4 systems: Alberti, Delacroix, Angelico, and Nolde."
  12. ^ a b SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Mason: I saw it with my own eyes. Terran forces shot it down. Just to end the anti-government movement... the Government sacrificed this entire planet!"
  13. ^ SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Crichton: Interesting, could the government really have been covering up something that big? Redbird: Sure! Probably all lies."
  14. ^ Faraway: "Margras, wait! Why have you… why have you joined the ADAN Forces?" Mason: "Losing my friends and family isn't reason enough?" SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29)
  15. ^ Egan: "The death of my father, Daniel Egan, who was once an activist… Is yet another example of this government's repression! It could not have been an accident! Not when he was butchered with millions of others on Acheron!" SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29)
  16. ^ Egan: "Of course I'm serious. When we unleash our fiery destruction upon Earth and everyone on it, we will eradicate the evil that overruns the universe forever!" SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29)
  17. ^ a b c Gerald Villoria (2007-07-24). "Project Sylpheed Review". GameSpy. http://xbox360.gamespy.com/xbox-360/project-sylph/807782p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  18. ^ Marcus Beasley (2007-07-27). "Project Sylpheed (Xbox360) Review". JustPressPlay. http://www.justpressplay.net/games/xbox360/project-sylpheed/review/. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  19. ^ a b Jeremy Jastrzab (2007-08-18). "Project Sylpheed Review". PAL Gaming Network. http://palgn.com.au/article.php?id=8493. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  20. ^ a b c Andy Eddy (2007-07-20). "Project Sylpheed Review". TeamXbox. http://reviews.teamxbox.com/xbox-360/1353/Project-Sylpheed/p1/. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  21. ^ SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Narrator: Their next offensive will most likely be against our forces here on Hargenteen. Hargenteen is a major hub of interstellar travel and perhaps our most strategically important base."
  22. ^ SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Logan: The operation entails making a feigned attack on ADAN territory. [...] A mid-size fleet is going in behind enemy lines to cause panic and divide their forces."
  23. ^ SETA. Project Sylpheed. (Microsoft). Xbox 360. (2007-06-29) "Egan: No, I certainly haven't forgotten. Our goal to end the tyranny hasn't changed… One final target. Mason: You mean Earth? You can't be serious!"
  24. ^ Hirohiko Niizumi (2006-04-06). "Square Enix commits to exclusive Xbox 360 game". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/projectsylph/news.html?sid=6147242. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  25. ^ Brendan Sinclair (2006-09-26). "Square Enix wants a three-way race". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/projectsylph/news.html?sid=6158660. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  26. ^ Anoop Gantayat (2006-09-20). "TGS 2006: Microsoft's Game List". IGN. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/733/733685p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  27. ^ Sam Kennedy (2006-09-22). "Update of a classic shooter for 360". 1UP.com. http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3153960&sec=PREVIEWS. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  28. ^ Microsoft (2007-06-14). "Project Sylpheed Demo Available". Press release. http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/13698/Project-Sylpheed-Demo-Available/. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  29. ^ Microsoft (2007-07-10). "Project Sylpheed Descends On Retailers". Press release. http://games.ign.com/articles/802/802829p1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  30. ^ a b "Project Sylpheed for Xbox 360". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/projectsylph/similar.html?mode=versions. Retrieved 2008-06-28.  
  31. ^ "Project Sylpheed". Game Rankings. http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/932514.asp. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  32. ^ a b "Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbox360/projectsylpheed. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  33. ^ a b Greg Sewart (2007-07-25). "Reviews: Project Sylpheed". 1UP.com. http://www.1up.com/do/reviewPage?cId=3161489&sec=REVIEWS. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  34. ^ Freund, Josh (2006-09-20). "News - Latest Famitsu scores - Pokémon Diamond/Pearl, Project Sylpheed, more". GamesAreFun.com. http://www.gamesarefun.com/news.php?newsid=6913. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  35. ^ a b c d e D. F. Smith (2007-08-27). "Reviews - Project Sylpheed". G4tv.com. http://www.g4tv.com/xplay/reviews/1585/Project_Sylpheed.html. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  36. ^ a b Matt Miller. "Review: Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception". GameInformer. Archived from the original on 2008-01-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20080106113740/http://www.gameinformer.com/NR/exeres/C73EEA84-DFA9-467F-BFD8-24230ED871C1.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  37. ^ a b c Hamster4Sale (2007-08-08). "Review: Project Sylpheed". GamePro. http://www.gamepro.com/microsoft/xbox360/games/reviews/126208.shtml. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  38. ^ Jeff Gerstmann (2007-07-23). "Project Sylpheed for Xbox 360 Review". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/projectsylph/review.html?sid=6175496. Retrieved 2007-10-08.  
  39. ^ Keato (2007-07-04). "Project Sylpheed Preview". Hooked Gamers. http://www.hookedgamers.com/articles/preview/274/project_sylpheed. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  40. ^ a b Fassino, Justin (2007-08-22). "Review - Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception". GamesAreFun. http://www.gamesarefun.com/gamesdb/review.php?reviewid=637. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  41. ^ Michael Gapper (2007-07-16). "Project Sylpheed". Computer and Video Games. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=168170. Retrieved 2007-10-03. "It's unfortunate that it need be so intrusive because the story gets in the way of some decent shooting action."  
  42. ^ Chris Dahlen (2007-08-13). "Project Sylpheed: Arc Of Deception". The A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/content/games/project_sylpheed_arc_of_deception. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  
  43. ^ Syd Bolton (2007-09-13). "Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception". The Armchair Empire. http://www.armchairempire.com/Reviews/xbox-360/project-sylpheed.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-03.  

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