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Project X Zone review

Troubled
AT A GLANCE
  • Huge cast of characters
  • Battle animations look good
  • Combo-driven fights are fun for a while
  • Shallow tactical combat
  • Idiotic story drives everything
  • Very little customization

If you can say one thing about Project X Zone, it’s that it’s all business. There’s no need for exploration, deep customization, or coherence of plot; this is a game about a bunch of folks fighting it out over a grid. Combos will be made, numbers will fly, and shrill voice-acting will drown out even your deepest, clearest thoughts. But you don’t need those anyway, because you’re here for one reason only: to watch good guys from various franchises fight with bad guys.

Sadly, this winds up making for a tactically shallow and boring game. You’ll be dragged from one absurd situation to another for the sake of plot, customizing very little about the units in your makeshift army in between skirmishes. Individually, each unit is barely distinguishable to each other as well. All of them have basic attacks, and skills learned from gaining levels are all mostly the same moves dressed up with different names from one character to the next. For the vast majority of battles, these aren’t even necessary as fights can be won by avoiding skill use altogether once you learn to put up with the vapid enemy AI. It’s a series of character beat downs with short breaks in between to set up the next scenario.

"...this winds up making for a tactically shallow and boring game."

Clearly, the main draw here is that there are a lot of cartoony goofballs from the franchises curated by Sega, Capcom, and Namco Bandai together in one package. On this base level alone, Project X Zone does a fine job. Each character has its own voice that matches up with his or her personality from the games that spawned them, and for as insipid as the story is, there’s some charm to a few of the conversations. Occasionally, you’ll even be hit with some clever inside-baseball jokes that poke fun at the video game business.

The real showcase is how these characters look and move when they’re together, but this turns out to be a bit uneven as well. Attack animations are lovingly crafted and pull straight from individual games the characters come from. That will give you a nerd chuckle by itself, but the rest of the game is drab and ugly. Environments are sparse and lack detail, and field animations for the characters are stiff. While you could give points for including enemies from various franchises to pad out the bad guy list (think the Red Arremer as a legion of recurring foes), they aren’t particularly varied past a few color palette swaps.

The actual combat should be given some credit, though. One unit on the map is comprised of a pair of characters that attack in unison and different combinations of buttons execute combos. Time these attacks correctly and your team will rack up serious damage, and even more so when you call in an attached support character or use the aid of adjacent units for combination attacks. The novelty wears off fast, though. While you’re given a nice list of different attacks to use, soon enough you’ll find the one or two that consistently work and rely on them for most of the game. Couple that with the aforementioned sameness of the cast and you’ve got the recipe for a boring-battle cocktail.

"Franchise devotees that don’t mind an inconsequential story to get a bunch of disparate characters together will appreciate how lovingly many of them are treated."

The worst part of it all is that you’re dragged by the ear through the plot whether you want to or not. There’s no opportunity to deviate from it for distractions like power leveling or farming materials from repeatable encounters and, depending on the situation, you never know who is going to wind up in your party from one fight to the next, and that’s a drag. Better strategy RPGs like February’s Fire Emblem: Awakening nearly overwhelmed you with options for customizing not only your troops but the way they behaved. Here, you’re simply going from point A to B, and that can rob your characters of meaningful growth and, by extension, rob you of any tactical complexity. It’s a boring death march toward the cliff of bad anime taste.

The crowd that always wanted to see Ryu deliver a dragon punch sandwich to T-elos has made their decision before reading this review, because this game is for them. Franchise devotees that don’t mind an inconsequential story to get a bunch of disparate characters together will appreciate how lovingly many of them are treated. But that’s about as deep as this puddle gets. With the wealth of RPGs, and even great SRPGs, that have arrived on the 3DS in the last several months, it would almost be unconscionable not to recommend one of those games instead of Project X Zone. Fun combat and screaming Tekken characters can only take you so far.

More Info

Release date: Jun 25 2013 - 3DS (US)
Jul 05 2013 - 3DS (UK)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Genre: Strategy RPG
Published by: Namco Bandai
Developed by: Monolith Software, Banpresto
ESRB Rating:
Teen

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19 comments

  • Katosen - August 21, 2013 7:53 p.m.

    I respect the writers' opinion in this review, but I personally think that they went about wording it in the wrong way so as to make it seem like it was one of the worst possible games to buy. Albeit, that's what I interpreted. I think that PXZ is a great game, surely not as a game purely built on customization, but one where someone can pick it up, play it for a little while, and then save when they're done playing for a bit. I like how quite a few of my favorite characters from all three "universes" are incorporated into the game, and I genuinely like the battle mechanics, as simple as they are. I beat FE:Awakening a few weeks ago, but it's not exactly fair to compare PXZ and FEA in the way the writer did.
  • Fireninjastar - July 1, 2013 5:40 p.m.

    I thought this was GamesRadar, not IGN. Where they give low scores to something that doesn't have gore flying everywhere or isn't Minecraft. I think the games fine, in terms of gameplay. It's kinda an introduction to people new to this style of gameplay (I know it was mine, next to Fire Emblem) while it has a mix of classic 90s' arcade Fighters. It's very flashy, exciting (Especially in 3D. Watch the Special Attacks in 3D, you'll love em'.) At this point, I do not care one bit about story. When I hear about a games story, it's usually floating over my head into obscurity. At it's core, it's a very, VERY simple Arcade Fighter.
  • Blastoise - July 2, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    "I thought this was GamesRadar, not IGN. Where they give low scores to something that doesn't have gore flying everywhere or isn't Minecraft." Yeah, didn't animal crossing get like a 9.6 a couple of weeks back?
  • artcellrox - June 29, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    Why do I feel like, if any of the guys from the RadarPlays reviewed this, it would have gotten a higher score?
  • PatHan-bHai - June 28, 2013 1:31 a.m.

    But wasn't GR already complimenting how awesome PxZ was long before it was released in the US? SO what happened now? And why does it seem that the review author doesn't like Tekken so much? Guess he sucks at it.
  • Cyberninja - June 27, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    What I am playing through the game right now and it is fun, the story doesn't need to make sense alot of stories don't. Anyway anyone who wants to try before buying has the option of playing the eshop demo.
  • tabher - June 27, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    In all honesty I think the game is actually pretty good. Sure the story makes no sense, but I think it is cool what they did with the combat to add a little interactivity. Other than that it basically plays just like any turn based rpg, just without the starting sub-scr About halfway thru and still having fun with it. This review is a head scratcher compared to the others.
  • PlainLikeVanilla - June 27, 2013 11:53 a.m.

    John Learned? Sounds like someone didn't want to attach their name to this review.
  • J-Fid - June 27, 2013 3:19 p.m.

    This bothered me too. I'd really like it if someone who works at GR (that the public knows) actually review the games on their own site. I can't put much weight into a review from someone I've never heard of.
  • BladedFalcon - June 27, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    Ouch, talk about a harsh review. What strikes me as odd is that for once, it seems GR stands on the lowest end of the spectrum in the reviews, so far, most of what the game has gotten have been fairly positive scores, so i can't help but to doubt this one a little bit. Specially because, considering what the game is about, doesn't really make sense to criticize the story... I mean, of course it's gonna be stupid and of course it's not gonna make sense, how the fuck else would you justify all those characters being convinced into the same world? It's like knocking points off games like Marvel Vs Capcom or Street Fighter X Tekken because their plots made no sense, that's not what the game is about ._. Anyway, it seems that what it boils down is whether the gameplay itself is good or not. This review clearly states that it isn't.... But since I've already downloaded the game, I guess I'll just have to judge it for myself.
  • ObliqueZombie - June 27, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    It seems a lot of reviews from many different sources don't really "get" some games, mainly Yahtzee from The Eacapist. Funny guy, great videos, questionable reviews. Anyway, maybe in this case, the story was SO bad that it was detrimental to the game enjoyment. Like they actually tried to flesh out the story more than they should've, shit I don't know. Tell me what you think though, because I'm interested solely for the concept.
  • EAC73 - June 27, 2013 2:22 p.m.

    I love Yahtzee's reviews, but they are something not to take so seriously when considering to purchase a game. To me, his goal is to point out every little flaw in a game and over exaggerate about it.
  • mothbanquet - July 2, 2013 3:16 a.m.

    Yahtzee is an entertainer, not a journalist. And that's why we love him.
  • shawksta - June 27, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    Eh, ill still consider it, the combat was fun to watch and as shown on Radar plays, its hilarious at times
  • Cyberninja - June 27, 2013 3:50 p.m.

    There is a demo on the eshop
  • shawksta - June 27, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    Yeah i know and i loved it
  • obviouslyadouche - June 27, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    It sucks this is a bad tactical rpg because I love them and I already wen't through awakening 3-4 times.
  • Katosen - August 21, 2013 7:58 p.m.

    Project X Zone, in my opinion, is a fun game. I loved the Demo, and how the characters are incorporated. It might not be the most revolutionized game in the world, but it's still fun for me to pick up for a small while, play it a little bit, and then set it down. Much like how the Legend of Zelda Oracle series is. A lot of reviews that I've read to gain some insight into some games, I take with a grain of salt because everyone has their likes and dislikes. To me though, PXZ is not a bad tactical RPG. It was kind of unfair to the game to compare it with a game like FE;Awakening, especially when the FE series has been around for quite a while, and has garnered its own fanbase in the tactical RPG genre.
  • Danomeon - June 27, 2013 10:53 a.m.

    It's so hard for me to read reviews like this, because the concept of the game is just so darn cool. I can't get over how giddy the thought of Juri and Yuri beating up enemies together makes me. I'm sure one of my friends is going to end up buying this, I might have to borrow it and see if I'd have fun with it despite all of the quirks.

Showing 1-19 of 19 comments

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