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Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   Bungie
Publisher:   Rockstar
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   3-20-01

After a long development time and tons of hype, Bungie’s Oni has finally arrived. Oni’s development cycle actually began as just a PC and Mac title, but later was also added to the PS2’s lineup. This is important, because this title’s PC roots are apparent in all facets of Oni, and end up being the game’s only real drawbacks.

For those of you not sucked up by the hype, Oni is a third-person action game with heavy anime influences. The year is 2032, and the world is a much different place than it is today. One government, the World Coalition Government, now controls over 80% of the world. Every major country of the world had accumulated massive debt, and the only way out was to unite as one. Naturally, this situation causes the gap between the rich and the poor to widen every day, so the WCG isn’t very well liked.

You control Konoko, orphaned at the age of 3 and subsequently raised by the World Coalition Government. You were brought up by a legion of scientists and TCTF (basically the WCG’s police) personnel, and thus you’ve been raised to kick major butt as part of the TCTF. Your primary enemy is the Syndicate, an organization of thieves who provide the growing poor masses with drugs to ease their pain and weapons to kill each other off with. Your job will be to fight the Syndicate. This follows the general pattern a lot of anime follows – that is, neither side is really a "good" side. Helping you is Shinatama, a Simulated Life Doll (SLD) that assists you greatly during each mission by providing directions and advice. As Konoko, you and Shinatama are neural-linked together so she can communicate with you while you’re on each mission.

At its core, Oni is all about kicking butt. In your arsenal are a number of different combat moves and combos, including everything from simple kicks and punches to complicated kick-punch combos. Complimenting that is a very nice selection of weapons at your disposal, including pistols, cannons, stun guns and much more. Oni’s selection of weapons fire in a variety of ways, and really add a lot to the gameplay as it’s important to choose the right weapon for the right situation. This is made even more important by the fact that you can only carry one weapon at a time. As you fight against the syndicate, you’ll come across a variety of different types of their troops…each with their own weapons and fighting styles. What really adds to the combat scenes is the fact that any person can pick up any weapon and use it. If you drop a weapon with an enemy near, that enemy will likely pick it up and use it against you. Alternatively, you can pick up and use any weapon that the enemy drops and use it against them. In fact, one strategy I’ve used is to drop an empty weapon on the ground. Often the enemy will pick it up, and you can then move in and attack while they’re occupied.

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