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Bionicle Heroes
Score: 98%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:
Bionicle Heroes does a great job of portraying one of the many Nui lands this series of toys/books/movies has portrayed. This game, taking place in Voya Nui, shows off the lava flows, ice fields, jungles, rivers and mountains found in all Bionicle islands. That, along with the pretty well detailed character models, definitely does the Bionicle name justice.

Everyone from the Toa Inika to the Paraka to the Matoran, Rahi, Bohrok, Rahkshi and Visorak appear just like my little brother's collection and really makes this game shine for any fan of the toy line.

The game's audio really only consisted of heroic and orchestral background music with the occasional bang or blast of sound effects. Overall, it did its job, but never really stood out in the long run.

While playing Bionicle Heroes, I constantly felt like I was playing a more grown up version of Lego Star Wars. The characters aren't quite as cartoony, both in appearance and demeanor, and the enemies and bosses are a bit more complicated.

In the past, Bionicle games have been fairly low rated and never gave me much enjoyment. Everything from those simple top-down or side-scrolling GBA games to the Mask of Light title just felt wanting. But when I heard Eidos handed the game over to Traveller's Tales, I felt like this game had a lot of promise, and quite frankly, Tt Games has realized that promise.

You take on the role of the Hero. A lone matoran gives you one of the Toa Inika masks and asks you to save Voya Nui from the evil Paraka. The game starts you off in a hub world similar to Dex's Diner in the first Lego Star Wars game. Here you can purchase upgrades and various unlockables with the Lego pieces you collect. This is also where you go to choose between six different Paraka locations. Each location has six or seven levels and require you to go through all of the levels before facing off against that location's big baddie.

In the levels, you will destroy everything that looks breakable for Lego pieces and collect Toa masks. Each mask has a set of powers it can perform (and a set that can be purchased in the hub). For instance, the Mask of Water lets you walk across the water, while the Mask of Earth lets you levitate objects and build Lego devices. As you take damage, your heart count decreases and whichever mask you are currently wearing when the hearts go away will be lost.

One interesting difference between Bionicle Heroes and Star Wars is the Hero Gauge. This is a lot like the Jedi Gauge from the other game, except that you will have to fill it up several times within a level to even progress. To explain, this gauge keeps track of how many Lego pieces you have collected and once filled, turns your character gold and gives him extra power. In the Lego games, this didn't give you any kind of boost, but was just one of the various goals you were trying to obtain. Now, in order to progress at certain times, you need to be gold in order to bring to life certain gold Lego creatures that will open passageways or make bridges or reveal boats. Once you call upon one of these gold Rahi, your gauge will go back down and you will have to fill it up again for the next summoning (don't worry, you don't lose your Lego pieces, you just have to collect more).

Bionicle Heroes required a surprising bit of cunning and determination to beat, well, during the boss and mini-boss battles at least. Outside of those major events with Parakahs and Rahkshi, when facing more common enemies like Bohrok and Rahi, you can typically plow through areas without much trouble and hardly lose any hearts, much less masks.

For the most part, the game has a good pick up and play feel to it that will let you plow through the main body of each level and when it comes time to face off against some boss, you will have to be a bit more mindful of your surroundings and where the enemy troops are coming from. But these brief stints of extra work never really hinder your feel of continual progression.

Game Mechanics:
The only part of Bionicle Heroes that really felt off was how the game handled the right analog stick for the camera control. Basically, there is no free-roaming camera, the camera remains positioned above your hero's right shoulder and rotating the stick causes your character to turn. This just felt odd and kept me from effectively strafing or moving while still keeping my enemies in sight.

Considering the game's engine comes from the Lego Star Wars series, which has a fixed camera, I can respect how much trouble might have gone into altering the engine to allow the user any kind of camera control. Still, I almost wish they had kept it fixed instead of using this less-than-optimal system.

Fans of Bionicle, Legos or the Lego Star Wars games will definitely find this title worth the purchase.

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

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