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Old 12-11-2006, 01:37 AM   #1
Kefkataran
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[Review] Okami (PS2)



Title: Okami
Platform: PS2
MSRP: $39.99
Reviewed by: Philip Kollar (KefkaTaran)

Okami


How best to explain Okami? Let’s just say there’s a reason this review is coming out so late after the game’s release, and it’s not that it’s so bad that I didn’t want to play it. No, this game is huge. Huge.

Okami starts off as a very simple game in every way imaginable. The story in the introductory cut scene is the same basic “legendary hero saves the world” story that is at the core of 90% of every game, albeit with a refreshing Japanese mythological tinge. The gameplay begins as a simple mix of monster bashing, dungeon crawling, and a teensy bit of platforming. This is deceptive, though, and as the hour timer in the game ticks up, both of the story and gameplay expand together in complexity.

Okami suffers from a somewhat slow training segment, but once the white wolf that is the game’s title character gains her first “Brush Technique,” the game starts revealing its true colors. See, in the game’s mythology, the character you control is a god. Her godly powers are expressed in-game through the use of a magical brush – you simply press one of the shoulder buttons and the stylishly watercolor-inspired 3D game world flattens into a 2D sheet of paper that you can manipulate with a special brush. Slicing enemies, bombing open hidden passageways, shooting flame, thunder, and ice – there are plenty of things you can do on this 2D plane, but the powers must be gathered one by one in the game’s dungeons and massive overworld in a way that is extremely comparable to Zelda. As with that venerated franchise, each new power you gain opens up new possibilities for combat and areas for exploration. And of course it’s necessary to skillfully use every power possible to dispose of the handful of boss characters.

The plot in Okami also gets much deeper and more interesting with progression. For the game’s first ten hours or so, it relies on a healthy dose of humor and wacky but fascinating (and memorable!) characters to avoid completely trapping itself into the cliché fantasy video game story. Around that far in, though, the game shockingly leads to what one reasonably assumes to be the final boss. In fact, had the game ended at that point, it would’ve been perfectly satisfying, if a bit short. Instead, though, the boss is defeated, a whole huge new section of the game world opens up, and the plot continues in directions that get more berserk and unexpected. Also, the game contains a ton of dialogue. Most of this is skippable, but there are a few important cut scenes where you must wade through the unyielding army of words as they march very slowly across the screen. The story’s great and worth all the reading, but for those not interested, this could be an annoyance.

Minor quibbles pop up at various points throughout the game. The Navi-esque character in the title, a miniature artist named Issun who travels on Okami’s back, is a somewhat interesting character with plenty of funny comments to add to your journeys. But unlike characters like this in that other puzzle RPG franchise, Issun cannot be talked to at any time to give you hints about where to go next, and by the end of the game, his constant flirting with the female characters and confusion about the plot will be wearing you thin. The combat in the game gets slightly more exciting via use of the Brush Techniques, but only the most hardcore of gamers will ever have enough ink – a full “heart” of which is depleted every time you pull off a single technique – to freely use them. The straight wolf-on-demon fighting doesn’t ever achieve much more than smashing on the attack button, even if you buy the ability to pee on your foes. Monster encounters in the game remain as nothing more than a sidetracking annoyance the same way they often are in a JRPG, and it doesn’t help when even the random overworld creatures start requiring specific tactics to take them down late in the game.

Perhaps the biggest annoyance to those looking for a great experience will be the audio. Okami features no spoken dialogue, which would be fine, except for what has been put in its place. Characters who are talking emit wretched squeaks and nonsensical garbles comparable to but much more annoying than the Sims. The game’s music pleasantly lolls in the background, but even the best tunes the game can offer aren’t enough to make up for the annoying NPC-speak; I found myself turning off the audio altogether in exchange for iTunes more often than not.

Even with these missteps, Okami pulls itself up out of obscurity as one of the best games of the year. With a price tag lower and an hour counter much greater than the average game, I’d challenge anyone to argue the value of this purchase. If action-RPGs in the Zelda style interest you in even the most remote way, you owe it to yourself to pick this title up. Okami’s world is full of interesting people, events, and items to uncover, and the game wraps up in such a satisfying manner that it’s likely to only leave you with one (perhaps sequel-worthy) question:

Why don’t more developers make games in the Zelda formula?


Verdict:



4.5 out of 5 Evil Eyes



The Good:

+Super-long and sure to keep you busy and happy
+Successful emulation of the Zelda formula
+Interesting powers and unique uses abound
+Surprisingly interesting story

The Bad:

-Standard to sub-par combat system that doesn't really improve
-RPG-esque random monster encounters that just aren't very fun
-A few parts where it's easy to get lost
-LOTS of dialogue, some of it unskippable

The Ugly:

-Crappy dialogue noises WILL make you want to tear your ears off
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:16 AM   #2
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I haven't played it myself, but I've been watching a lot of it when my girlfriend played it. Great game, but even though I wasn't playing it myself it felt way too long, and was getting very watered out towards the end. I really think it should have been shorter/more compact.
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:24 AM   #3
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Agreed about the squeaks and beeps for voice overs I didn't mind it too much but it got irritating for me personally. I wouldn't have heard about the game until my instructor talked about it and I saw the art for myself. What drew me to the game was the art. It's a good game, I wish I could get around to finishing it, but, I just can't bring myself to pick it up again ;( it's not that it's boring but, right now I'm just looking for... an rpg that's ff-esque that's new of course ;(
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:31 AM   #4
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Non-skippable huge blocks of slow moving text made me put this game down. It is a fairly good game otherwise.
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:36 AM   #5
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Nice review Kef.

Personally I didn't mind the squeaks at all, I think I've played too many kiddy games where that's the norm (I turned those sounds ON in animal crossing).

Also, it's been a while since I finished it but... Amaterasu is a female right?

Zelda is my favourite series and this game is the best emulation of Zelda I have ever seen. I was surprised how much I liked it, I didn't think it'd get so close to Zelda in my books.
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lon Lon Rabbit
Also, it's been a while since I finished it but... Amaterasu is a female right?
As they say in the game, "Amaterasu, origin of all that is good and mother to us all..."
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:46 AM   #7
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Okami is pretty easily my pick for game of the year. The combat system being fairly basic is my only real complaint, but even then it's fun to doodle bombs and such on my enemies. I rather liked how long it was, too.
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Old 12-11-2006, 02:54 AM   #8
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Yeah, it's got a zeldaey, metroidey kinda.... juicyness. I loves it, and the vocal noises are actually kinda cute. And now we have an example of "Video game as art."

It's also one of those games that you can beat and then pick up and play again just for the hell of it, like Devil May Cry.
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Great game, but even though I wasn't playing it myself it felt way too long, and was getting very watered out towards the end. I really think it should have been shorter/more compact.
There's *definitely* times where I was just hoping it was almost done, but usually within an hour of that, there'd be some really cool section of gameplay or surprise story segment that would reinvigorate me and keep me pushing along. Hope the girlfriend's liking it, though!

Quote:
I wish I could get around to finishing it, but, I just can't bring myself to pick it up again ;( it's not that it's boring but, right now I'm just looking for... an rpg that's ff-esque that's new of course ;(
I'm assuming you've done FFXII? If not, pick that sucker up. That threatened to end my Okami game right in its tracks, but I decided to put off playing FFXII to get through Okami and Bully.

Quote:
Also, it's been a while since I finished it but... Amaterasu is a female right?
You know, I think you're right. I'm going to go make sure and then switch what I need to.

Quote:
Zelda is my favourite series and this game is the best emulation of Zelda I have ever seen. I was surprised how much I liked it, I didn't think it'd get so close to Zelda in my books.
Agreed. Still not as good as a real Zelda game, but very close. Like I said, I just wonder how come more games don't try to emulate that formula?

Quote:
and the vocal noises are actually kinda cute.
I thought this as well and had no problems at first, but the length of the game made the voices really annoying eventually.
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:29 AM   #10
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Played it but didn't like it. Hated the artstyle and thought the gameplay was that not that great. The unskipable cutscenes at the beginning was unbearable. Not suprised why it didn't sold that well.

Call me shallow but I'm looking for a simple fun game, not a critics' game.
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:33 AM   #11
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Played, beat the poop out of ffxii, I'm out for blood now, ffxii was good but it just wasn't enough to feed my appetite.. I want MOOOOOOOOOOOAR
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:03 AM   #12
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So you play as a wolf, right? Just a normal wolf, not some hind-quarter balancing furry swordsman?

I'm on the brink of ordering this game, playing as a wolf god sounds pretty awesome, but how exactly does he/she fight? different kinds of bite attacks, or werewolf / sword in paw nonsense?
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:07 AM   #13
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General wolf lunging, but you do get weapons too. They are magical though, so you stay on 4 paws at all times, with the weapons mounted on your back, and they sort of attack as you lunge/are thrust forward in front of you. You don't physically wield them...
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:35 AM   #14
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After Zelda this is easily one of the best games this year
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:39 AM   #15
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I liked the review Kef. I picked this game up at release and was able to get an hour or so in. The Mrs. played it for a few hours and we both want to finish it. The size of the game is kind of hurting my desire to pick it up right now though.

I will get thru it, but I think it will have to wait for Twilight Princess, Shadow of the Colossus, and Sly Cooper 3. Those are the only games I have on my play shelf ahead of Okami. I have kind of left my PS2 to gather dust the past few months. I think I will give it one last hoorah and retire it for the PS3.

Again, nice piece and I am looking forward to having the time required to commit to this game.
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:49 AM   #16
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Hmm, surprised it didn't get the full 5 Evil Eyes.. It did to me.

I think a major point of the review is the minor annoyances which took gigantic proportions once the game got big itself. I agree to an extent, but I focused on the expansive landscape, the visuals and the innovative brush, which hasn't really been done. Maybe that's how I was able to "tolerate" the game. Please give me a game that gives me even a taste of the celestial brush's powers. Oh wait, I already own Okami.

I accept that not all people will like or even accept Okami's visuals. It's a different style that has been pulled off with the now infamous "limitations" of the PS2. But for people who would like to experience videogaming with art ITSELF, Okami is the ONLY way to go, brush and all.

That is all. And yes I will defend Okami to the last ink bullet.

Edit: As far as I remember, encounters aren't random. There's these ghost scrolls that float around that when you touch become battle zones or something. Encounters should be totally under your control, unless you are ambushed from a blind spot or are simply outrun/cornered.

And now that I have thought about my actions, Okami might not have needed much defending since it did get 4.5 out of 5. I, however, still have to aim for that .5, like the fanboy I am. (Although I haven't played this game in.. months? Still waiting to totally forget the experience so I can enjoy it all over again.)

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Old 12-11-2006, 04:55 AM   #17
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I am not sure which is the better game if you compare the new Zelda Twilight Princess to Okami.

Okami has a fighting system that is more interesting and has more depth than Zelda (so far) and a really beautiful and unique style of graphics. Then it has also has some very nice and tricky puzzles with the brush.

Zelda on the other hand is Zelda with their natural progression but also a nice and interesting darker side to it that makes it interesting. Zelda suffers somewhat from trying to shoehorn the Wii-mote into the gameplay, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt but you get used to it quickly.

The games are very similar in layout and also a bit in story but Okami has more humor and also a story where you don't know where it's gonna end up so you are tricked now and again.

Both are great games and they both GROW on you if you decide to play past the first hour or so.
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Old 12-11-2006, 05:24 AM   #18
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I have to agree with disc, the fighting system that the Okami wolf combat is better than the Zelda TP wolf combat, its one thing that I really missed while playing Zelda actually.

Although the part about the controls being hit or miss, hmmm I don't know about that, I found Zelda's controls to be pretty damn good, unless your batteries are dying in your wiimote, then your fucked.

Okami vs Zelda, Okami did a couple of things better, they've got a New game plus mode, which I would have enjoyed from Zelda, and in the New Game Plus you get access to another new wepon type which is nice, although I've only finished Okami I didn't really go back over it again.

Overall I think Okami comes VERY close to beating Zelda, the enemy battles aren't random you can clearly see where they are and avoid them easily, the enemies within the objects which initiate battle have random enemies inside of them, theres a difference.

The beeps and blurps weren't so bad considering Wind Waker had a similar sound scheme with its character's dialog.
The whole points system at the end of Okami really sucked the Zelda out of it for me.

All in all Okami fucking rocks, the fact that there were only 2 copies at my dumpy local Wal Mart and I bought one and the other copy remained there for a good 3 months just shows me how retarded gamers are in my small town. If you have a PS2 and any love at all for Zelda then you'll love Okami and you NEED it.

**SPOILER***




















I FUCKING HATED how they kept tacking onto the story its pretty clear that they had a proper ending at one point in development but after a play test and someone found out it was too "short" they probably said "OH I KNOW HOW TO DRAG IT OUT!" Theres a part where the story really breaks off at the end and its like *sigh* is it OVER yet? Even though I did love the game through and through it just happened after I killed the 2 owls and THEN found out that I had to go into that Ark thing and re kill all the main bosses ALL OVER AGAIN, I found that VERY cheesy and unnecessary.

Then the other bad thing is after ALL that time you play the game you really don't get a decent ending, although Zelda TP can also be charged with the same crime to some extent(I don't know what I wanted from the TP ending but something more in depth and more cathartic).
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Old 12-11-2006, 05:28 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disc
I am not sure which is the better game if you compare the new Zelda Twilight Princess to Okami.

Okami has a fighting system that is more interesting and has more depth than Zelda (so far) and a really beautiful and unique style of graphics. Then it has also has some very nice and tricky puzzles with the brush.

Zelda on the other hand is Zelda with their natural progression but also a nice and interesting darker side to it that makes it interesting. Zelda suffers somewhat from trying to shoehorn the Wii-mote into the gameplay, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt but you get used to it quickly.

The games are very similar in layout and also a bit in story but Okami has more humor and also a story where you don't know where it's gonna end up so you are tricked now and again.

Both are great games and they both GROW on you if you decide to play past the first hour or so.
Zelda is definitely better, but not by as much as I would have expected.

It just has that extra bit of polish and better dungeon design, but it goes a long way.

Personally I found the dungeons to be the weaker parts of Okami (not bad parts, but weaker overall), and all the inbetween stuff (which there was lots and lots of) was more engaging.

Okami also took me a little bit longer to finish, but that may be due to me being more used to Zelda logic than Okami logic.

Okami's fighting system is more deep than Zelda's if you want it to be, but the game is sufficiently easy that you can stick with your favourite weapon combo through the whole thing and just keep using the same moves over and over again, but Zelda required you to learn some of the hidden moves to beat some later enemies.

Also, I'm pretty sure it's no longer the popular opinion that the Wii controls are tacked onto Zelda, despite it being a big fear before its release.
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Old 12-11-2006, 06:19 AM   #20
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Okami is so easy, I just stopped playing after the imperial city. Had yet to die up to that point (or even us the fairy in a bottle equivalent.) Stupid, STUPID easy.
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