Xena: Warrior Princess
How do you control a six-foot amazon who packs a sword and a deadly frisbee? Why, with a Dual Shock, of course. Xena is coming to the PlayStation, and her namesake game not only captures the spirit of the TV show, but also packs plenty of butt-kickin' action.
Players guide Xena through 22 levels in a quest to rescue her kidnapped compatriot, Gabrielle. You'll batde all manner of mythological beasts along the way, from gorgons to cyclops to Dyzan, the fire-breathing gatekeeper of Hades. Some characters from the show will appear, and others will be new, specially created for the game.
Familiar elements from the show are being incorporated into the gameplay, such as Xena's trademark weapon, the chakram (the aforementioned deadly frisbee), and her over-the-top bicycle kicks. The game is improving daily--but can Xena out-muscle Lara Croft in the final battle for the tide of single-player adventure goddess?
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While the debate on whether or not Tomb Raider Lara Croft is a strong woman rages on, even in circles far beyond the videogame industry, it's clear that no one in his/her right mind would question the power of TV's Xena: Warrior Princess. And if a character's strength is any sort of measure of a game's worth, Xena's about to give ol' Lara a run for her money--because she'll soon be joining her in the 3O action-adventure playing field in Universal Interactive's Xena: Warrior Princess (with the working title appendage "Horrungus Among Us") for the Sony PlayStation.
The story behind the title puts Xena and her long-time "companion" Gabrielle in the way of a devious plot concocted by Xena's old nemeses Calisto and Ares, the god of war. The evil duo has raised a titan from infancy--the three-headed monster Horrungus--intending to control the incredible power it will have when it grows up, unleash it upon the world, and rule what's left--isn't that always the way? To test out the nearly full-grown beast, Calisto and Ares have captured Gabrielle and intend to either force Xena to help them or make the creature destroy both Xena and Gabrielle. Along the way, Xena wanders to places like Sisyphus' fortress, Pinnacles' temple, the home of the Amazon Birdwomen, and Hades Castle, and she faces such enemies as ogres, evil druids, dragons and Hades' minions, before confronting Horrungus itself. And then Calisto and Ares will, of course, still be waiting in the wings.
Xena fans can expect the game to show more than just characters and places from the series, because Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Rene O'Conner (Gabrielle) voice their characters' parts and had their faces texture-mapped for the roles--although the animation is done by hand instead of through motion capture. Theme music and sound effects are used as well. The gameplay is said to be like a more action-oriented version of Tomb Raider, with Xena acting out her adventures in a 3D world, followed by an intelligent camera that always puts her in the center of the screen. Her moves include punching, kicking, jump kicks, sword and staff fighting, and Chakram throwing (her metallic bladed "Frisbee"), as well as the special Hong Kong action-movie moves seen in the series, such as hanging in the air to kick an opponent in the face repeatedly. Look for 106+ animations in the final version. More than 20 levels are currently planned for the game, requiring you to visit some of the scenarios more than once. Secret levels and characters are also present, found through means unknown at this point.
Gameplay will be similar to Activision's Tenchu, since some scenarios require more stealth-type movement rather than out-and-out fighting. For instance, in one level, Xena has to break into a fortress guarded by platoons of archers and swordsmen. If she marches in directly, she might find herself full of arrows. But if Xena sneaks up and ambushes the warriors one by one and then uses the Chakram to take out the archers at post in their towers, she should be able to get in unscathed.
- MANUFACTURER - Universal Interactive
- THEME - ACTION
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Welcome to ancient Greece, when the gods were petty and cruel--and a woman could really bust heads. Evil warlord-turned-wandering good girl, Xena: Warrior Princess has been kickin' butt in the syndicated TV ratings, and 989 Studios hopes she'll do the same on the PlayStation. As Xena, you must rescue Gabrielle, your sidekick and best friend, from being offered as a sacrifice by the Minotaur King and Amazon Queen. Xena fights the 3D monsters of Greek mythology with sword, staff, and, of course, her trusty Chakram (picture a deadly Frisbee). Surrounded by characters and locations taken direcdy from the series, you travel through eight realms, including castles, temples, and Hades itself; each of the environments has multiple missions you must complete in order to save Gabrielle. 989 is promising dynamic gameplay and a polygonal Princess that does combat at 30 frames per second. Battle on, Xena!
Xena has one major downfall: control. Turning requires a U-turn motion--you can't take small steps in one direction or another. So, if you're on a small platform surrounded by lava and have to change directions to make a jump, you're in serious danger of falling in and losing your life. It's a huge problem if it's the fault of the control that you keep dying repeatedly. Xena is well-designed for a licensed game. Using the Chakram is especially cool and enables you to send a feeler out into a level to see where things are (as far as you can guide it, that is). Combat feels much like Golden Axe, and there's a few puzzles to solve as you go. Some are really maddening, and you can't tell if the tips you're being given are vague "riddles," or being told what you need to do, which can be frustrating. Graphically, Xena looks good and the levels are nicely laid out. Only problem is they're too short until the end. There are only a little over 20 levels so you could probably get through this one in a weekend. Lava kills you too quickly, and it's hard to jump back out because of the shoddy control. Why on earth does Xena not have true analog control? You can choose either running or walking for both the D-pad and analog, there's no in-between. Too bad about the control--this could've been a decent game otherwise.
I don't watch the show, so I can't relate to all the guffawing around here about the lesbian subtext in Xena; nor can I appreciate any sort of camp kitsch because the franchise takes itself so seriously. So this was simply a sub-par 3D beat'em-up with blocky, poorly animated graphics. Throwing the Chakram is cool but the novelty wears off quick. The later platform levels will really frustrate you due to the horrid controls and slippery gameplay.
This is an awful, awful game that must be avoided at all costs (unless you're a big Xena fan who absolutely cannot live life without playing out some amazon-sappho interactive adventure, no matter how bad it is). Xena has the two things that'll kill any 3D adventure game: bad camera and bad control. The game-play itself is really monotonous and boring. Other stupid problems plague the game as well, like fires that don't burn you and polygon clipping.
Xena isn't the worst licensed game I've ever played. Nor is it the best. This leaves it somewhere in the middle--where average games live. There are some parts that are fairly enjoyable, but there are also parts that are tedious as hell...or downright laughable (like when Xena yodels). The main problem is the control. It's just not responsive enough, and often leaves me wanting a quick turnaround button. Fans of the show might like it--I don't.
Can a warrior princess from ancient Greece take on the current PlayStation queen, the antiquity-loving Lara Croft? Could be--the early build of Xena: Warrior Princess features promising graphics and environments as well as challenging action/adventure gameplay.
Wandering around ancient Greece smiting evil, you fight with or search for your spunky sidekick. Gabrielle. Over die 20-plus levels, you'll put Xena through her signature, slightly campy acrobatic moves--including the bicycle kick. The game's most impressive (and fun) feature is Xena's Chakram (you know, the razor-edged Frisbee): You can fine-tune its targeting to take out baddies from a distance and steer it mid-flight. The game isn't all hack-n-slash, though--some of the levels contain puzzles and collectible items.
For the Final version. EA promises to clean up the spastic camera. Xenas slightly jerky controls, and the inconsistent frame rate. But even with those problems. Xena seems ready to take all comers. In other-words: Look out. Lara!