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Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring
Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dream Factory
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Fighting/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in this game are gorgeous, almost on the level of the impossible-to-beat Tobal 2, by the same company. Of course, Tobal 2 never came out in the States, so Ehrgeiz is definitely the smoothest moving fighter in the States. It runs at 60fps, with quite detailed character models and good animations. The sound in this game, on the other hand, can get really obnoxious. The select sound started driving me nuts fewer than three minutes after I started to play the game. The music is good, if unmemorable. If it weren't for that select sound, the presentation would be almost perfect.

Well, let's be blunt. The fighting game part of Ehrgeiz is passable at best, and pretty lame at worst. The characters are terribly imbalanced -- I got through almost every single person using Cloud Strife and his sword by simply swinging the sword in front of me constantly. Really. Some of the other characters (like GODHAND) are almost impossible to get past people with. Sure, you get to play as various characters from Final Fantasy VII. Yes, the environments are extremely cool, with free-roaming 3D (albeit tiny, but that's understandable, because Bushido Blade, this is not). But the fighting game itself is almost trivial. You have high attacks, mid attacks, low attacks and your special attack. Various combinations of buttons do various moves, a la every other fighting game ever made, but they're rarely necessary.

Where the good gameplay is in Ehrgeiz is in the mini games and the built-in RPG quest (which seems to be an obsession of Dream Factory, since Tobal No. 1 and Tobal 2 had them as well). One of the mini-games, a very Othello-style board game played in real time, is almost worth the purchase price alone. It's a great little action-puzzle game that will keep you on your toes. The Beach Battle minigame is fun too, if hard as hell. The real gameplay in Ehrgeiz comes from the RPG mode, where you delve deep into a dungeon, picking up new weapons and equipment, and generally beating the hell out of every creature you meet. The battle engine is considerably simpler, but you can have many enemies on the screen at once, trying to beat the snot out of you. It's not terribly difficult, but it is damned fun, and will take you quite a few hours to beat. A pleasant little diversion, definitely.

Well, in the battle mode, the difficulty has everything to do with the characters that you pick to do the battle with. Cloud's a pushover, GODHAND's impossible, and most of the other characters are somewhere in between. The mini-games are almost uniformly difficult at first, but soon you get the hang of what you need to be doing. The Quest mode isn't very hard, but it's more than fun enough to make up for it.

Game Mechanics:
The Battle mode's mechanics are just not... right. It just doesn't feel quite right, and it shows in how the game plays. Dual Shock support is almost necessary for smooth movement around the battlefields, and it does move terribly smoothly, but... hrm. There's just something integral missing from the fighting game. The mini-games and the Quest mode, however, are spot-on controlwise and gameplay-wise. Good, clean fun. Now, let me say that the fighting game isn't bad, it's just not up to par with Dream Factory's other productions. Get Ehrgeiz if you want a fighter 'lite,' perhaps, or a nice little short action-RPG for the PSX, along with a groovy puzzle mode or two. You won't be disappointed if you're not expecting another Tobal 2. Ehrgeiz isn't Square's finest work, but it's not their worst either, and if you're a fan of the genre and don't mind not having deep gameplay, you'll find Ehrgeiz a quite solid rental or purchase.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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