Follow the exploits of Konoko through some deviously twisted levels, frantic and furious hard-core manga/anime sci-fi inspired action. Or just another tasteless 3rd person beat-em-up romp?
I'm glad to say that Oni promised to be an anime action-thriller with huge levels and furious frenetic gameplay involving both guns and martial arts. I'm happy to report as far as I'm concerned Oni delivers with both feet flying. From the slick and stylish anime intro to the well-implemented use of textures and graphics the whole game oozes atmosphere.
And this is important to me; I want to be transported to the far future into a technological hard-edged science fiction world. I want to feel as though I care for the place that I'm trying to protect in game.
Oni's levels are huge, from the dingy interiors of the warehouses, to the skylines of a vast metropolis. They stretch off into infinity and run smoothly on a Celeron 450/128mb Ram and a Voodoo 3 2000. The graphics are excellent and give the cartoon feeling to the proceedings, make no mistake about it Oni is gloriously anime from the plot to the over-the-top action. Konoko the heroine is brassy and doesn't take long to get used to, you'll find that the movement and action controls of this game are also pretty easy to get used to as well. A few keypresses and mouse-clicks and she's running, jumping, cartwheeling, and ass-kicking across the screen.
Talking about ass kicking, let's take a look at the fights and action of the game. You have access to guns and your deadly fists and feet. The first level of the game is a training sequence that teaches you the basics you need to play; it's done in a very entertaining way and leaves you feeling that you've actually accomplished something. A rarity in the mix of modern games that we're getting lately.
You can check back in game with the use of the help screen to see, keys and moves that you know. While playing Oni; Konoko will gradually gain new combat moves allowing her to disarm and inflict an even more severe pummelling on her adversaries. Pressing forwards and punch or forwards and kick while standing close to an enemy will throw them, likewise running at an enemy and tapping kick will usually send Konoko into a nasty neck-grabbing throw with her feet. Experimentation is the key to Oni's combat system; learn the moves at the start of the game.
Guns play an important part in Oni, and usually ammo is limited so it's best to disarm opponents as soon as you can. Most early battles are one on one and not too hard, but as the game progresses you find yourself in some serious and furious fights if you're not careful. Hypos and other gadgets make her life a lot easier, conservation and the use of these resources is paramount to success. The AI in Oni is excellent as well, enemies will use cover and concealment to their advantage and also pick up discarded weapons that still have ammo, so don't be complacent. Once a guard is disarmed it's best to batter him or her to the ground than risk the gun being used again.
I lost count of how many times I had to dodge, run and slide to avoid sneaky guards shooting their guns at me, once I thought I'd knocked them to the ground...and I mean any guard, if you're fighting two or three, any one of those enemies can use the weapon against you...oh and I also forgot, this includes your own gun. If they get to you and knock you down, chance is they'll pick up the gun you were using and start blazing away. I like to put any gun away for close quarters combat; it's safer on my hide that way.
I don't want to mention too much on Oni's plot, suffice it to say that the whole thing makes sense and comes to a conclusion that doesn't leave the game hanging, it grabs you, yanks you in and doesn't let go until you sit sweating at the end of the game cursing Bungie for making you miss sleep and time with your spouse.
Oni's sounds are also excellent and the use of various filters to give AI characters some depth is also nice, at one point in the game you come to the rescue of a guy in a welding mask, you have to listen to make out his muffled voice but you can hear it.
Again I'm not going to mention the weapons, as there are some truly devastating ones in the game I consider surprises, you'll have to find out for yourselves exactly what they are and how they work against the different bad-guys.
Lastly I'm going to mention the only thing that irritates the hell out of me...the same thing that annoys me in Project IGI...a lack of an in-game save. Oni would really have been made into an incredible title if it only had an in-game save feature, as it is it has save-points that auto-save when you reach a particularly hard spot. But these are often created by the designers who can walk through the game with their eyes shut. What happens if you have a slightly worse player who takes several attempts to do one thing you found easy?
It leads to frustration and irritation, as you have to go back to another save-point or the beginning of the mission again. All in all though this is only a minor niggle.
For my final thoughts Oni is a fun and addictive game that brings to life a dark future anime world full of action and intrigue, as its multi-level plot unfolds over the vast levels. Each mission makes you want to play the next one. I would say it is a must have game on any collectors shelf. I can only congratulate Bungie for bringing us a refreshing breath of air into a market full of clones and copies of an old tired ideal.
Now I'm going back to have my ass kicked by someone again...