Well after four years of development Daikatana finally ships! I can't believe it, I thought the game would be cancelled after all the missed shipping dates, internal employee problems, lack of focused management, well the laundry list of problems at Ion Storm I'm sure your all familiar with. I was defiantly intrigued about playing the game as the hype alone made it worth buying. So after installing the game I sat thru the incredibly long introduction to the game that plots you as Hiro Miyamoto who is suppose to be a martial arts expert.
In the prologue you meet an old Japanese man who begins to tell you of your important family heritage. The voice-overs for the characters are mediocre and not very authentic sounding. Well to cut to the chase, the story revolves around an ancient Japanese sword, the Daikatana. Apparently your ancient ancestor made the sword, and now it has fallen into the hands of evil. Along the way you meet your two sidekicks Superfly Johnson (black and loving it) and Mikiko Ebihara (ultra-cool, low on clothes, Japanese chick).
In your quest for the Daikatana, and to fix your future, the player will travel through four distinct time periods: Kyoto, ancient Greece, medieval Norway, and a futuristic San Francisco. The plot moves along in Daikatana by a series of cut scenes at various points in your adventure. You must pay attention to the cut scenes, as they are the only point in the game where you are told what you must do.
The game is based on the Quake 2 engine, and it's starting to show off its age. It plays smooth enough, but it lacks the fast and furious feel of the Quake 3 engine. The most interesting aspect to Daikatana is the use of sidekicks. While it sounds nifty in theory, in practice they are more trouble then their worth. Slamming doors or falling from high cliffs constantly kills them and if that's not bad enough, they wind up shooting you! If either of them dies your game is over, so you must constantly be baby-sitting them. You can bark out a minimal set of orders to assist you in stopping their deaths, but the whole sidekick idea really only helps the game in its comic relief department.
Its somewhat obvious that they were trying to capture the RPGesque feel with the plot, and to further this feeling you earn experience points for killing enemies. The experience points earn you levels and levels earn you ability to increase certain abilities, such as: running, jumping, and attacking to name a few. While this all sounds nifty in theory, increasing the skills doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Saving your game in Daikatana is another area of complaint. Your forced to use save gems that you collect to save your game. Come on folks, this ain't no console! Leave the decision to save your game up to the gamer.
Like most first person shooters these days, Daikatana ships with four modes of multiplayer: deathmatch, cooperative play, capture the flag, and deathtag. The deathmatch support is downright annoying. The weapons in the game are not balanced at all. No matter what level your in, it always turns into a race to the mega-weapons. The lower level weapons, such as the shotgun, are a one shot deal, since it fires all the rounds at once, if you miss your outta luck. The design of the levels and the lack of any decent weapons makes going head to head with your friends a night of frustration and not a night of fun.
Right from the get-go I was disappointed in the graphics arena. The first few levels look like green slop. As the game progresses the graphics improve some, but the overuse of colored lighting on particular stages is horrendous. I was very impressed with what Raven did with the Quake 2 engine with its solid title Soldier of Fortune, but this just doesn't cut it for a game that took 4 years to produce. The levels are uninspired and you can see where some corners were cut, which gives a "rushed" feel to it.
The audio isn't much better, the sound effects are incredibly annoying, some of the first creatures you face are some type of flying wasps and their incessant buzzing noise makes you want to quit the game right then and there. The voice-overs and script for the characters seems dull and unimaginative, although I did get a chuckle when first hearing Superfly Johnson.