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DICE: DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises
Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Bandai
Developer: Bandai
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
DICE: DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises is a game that has lots of potential in concept, but doesn't follow through in implementation.

Graphically, DICE was very appealing; each level, enemy and character seemed to resemble what I've seen of the show it is based on. Each of the nine playable characters have their own unique look and color scheme (Power Rangers/Voltron style) that makes it easy to differentiate between the various people you can choose from.

As far as audio is concerned, DICE's music is very theatrical and (at times) over the top -- in other words, very anime. The sound effects are okay and get the job done, but between missions when the characters are talking to you, they tend to be drowned out and overpowered by the game's music. This made it a strain to hear what was being said and how the next mission tied into the overall game (not that it really matters when it comes down to it). Thankfully, the voice work was complemented by subtitles, so I didn't have to hear what was being said.

DICE: DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises is a game where you play the members of the F-99, an elite special forces for the DICE corporation. But what is DICE you might ask? In the future, man has colonized space and it isn't always a pretty place to be. DICE is a company that gets hired to perform odd tasks like retrieving stolen property, guarding technology and (apparently) participating in races for clients. Most of the jobs that DICE has can be handled by the typical employees -- but every now and then, a mission comes around that is so important or tricky, the F-99 are called out.

Your team members (five at first, two more to be unlocked) are armor-clad characters that each ride a Dinobreaker. These mechanical contraptions can transform into two different modes, a Vehicle Mode and a Dino Mode. While in Dino Mode, you can attack with your special moves or use Satellite Bot, some new technology developed by the DICE corporation. This bot flies around you and can be used as either a shield or you can have it lock onto enemies and blast them from afar.

Your typical action missions consist of walking into a room, clearing out all the enemies and moving on to the next room until you reach some boss with a fairly predictable pattern. It's not very complex, but these are good missions to just sit back and put your brain on hold for a few minutes.

When in Vehicle Mode, you are weaponless but faster than normal. This mode will let you "speed" down tracks and corridors. I put speed in quotes here because even though your speedometer clocks at over 100 mph, you don't really see or feel any of the effects. Frankly its as if you weren't going any faster than 55 on a highway.

In both modes, you can get off of your Dinobreaker. If you overheat your Dino while attacking enemies, you will be thrown off and must fend for yourself while the machine cools off. This is the only time when you are vulnerable since this is when your health gauge appears. If in Vehicle mode, hit a wall too fast and you'll fly off of your Dinobreaker. You then have to get up, walk to your vehicle and take off again.

Because you have a Vehicle mode, the developers put in several races. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to watch the short-lived TV-series this game is based on, so I don't know if racing was a frequent part of the show's story-arc. But I found the races to be a major problem in the game. I mentioned earlier that if you were going too fast and hit a wall, you would fly from your vehicle and have to get back on. I can accept that, it isn't too much to have me go flying from a bike when this happens. Unfortunately, you do this even for the heavy tank-like Dinobreakers that show you completely enclosed as well.

That's not all, though. If you fly off the hovering track and fall into whatever is below, your character gets reset over the track again (no problem there), but when he lands -- you go flying off the vehicle. So to add insult to injury, not only do you lose time by flying off the track and waiting to be reset, but you have to walk back to your Dinobreaker again. This was just too much and got frustrating quickly. I found I had to pull way ahead really early on in these races because if I didn't have a substantial lead, then when I left my Dinobreaker I would end up in last place. Very disappointing.

Unfortunately, it is these race missions that keep the game from getting ranked in the 80's. Even though they weren't as frequent as they could be (shudder), every time I completed one of the regular missions I was worried that the next one would have me steering my Dinobreaker through another grand prix (typically several racing missions back to back). This was an effect that greatly reduced the amount of overall enjoyment I got from DICE.

DICE: DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises's action missions aren't hard. It might take you a few tries to get through a level and its boss, but once you get the hang of the area and which Dinobreaker to use, you will be able to breeze through the job. In general, DICE is a game that pretty much any age group can make steady progress in. For those younger gamers out there -- you might have to pass the controller to an older sibling or parent in order to get past the annoying race modes.

Game Mechanics:
DICE: DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises's control scheme is fairly standard. While in Dino mode, you attack with the Square button, do a spin attack by holding down the Square for a second or two to charge up, guard with the R1 shoulder button and shoot with the Circle button. Most of these commands are the same if you are off of your Dinobreaker and walking around on your own.

In Vehicle Mode, you speed up with the Square, brake with the X and activate your boost with the R1 button. You switch between Vehicle and Dino Modes by tapping the Triangle button. You can get off your Dinobreaker (in either mode) with the R2 button.

DICE has good and bad parts. The action missions are straightforward and shouldn't take too many attempts to get through, while the races can be a bear (they never give up!). It's a mixed bag and I would only recommend it if you have the patience to get through the races. If not, then you aren't missing anything major.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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