Project Sylpheed is the latest space combat simulator to hit New Zealand shores for the Xbox 360. Made by the creators of Final Fantasy (Square Enix), Project Sylpheed promises speed, bright lights, and engaging dogfights, as well as mixing a decent story to run along with you while you are blasting away your enemy with hundreds of heat-seeking missiles and rapid-firing laser cannons. Speed is the ultimate key in Project Sylpheed – go any slower than your maximum and you may find that the missiles that were following you have finally caught up.
The Japanese love to develop games with bright colours, fast-paced action, and lovey-dovey storylines, and Project Sylpheed is no different. Square Enix have definitely taken many cues from their previous games and thrown it into a genre that they are not too familiar with. This has generated an interesting mix of the three points that Japanese developers usually head towards. The story begins with a simple training exercise out in space when suddenly – enemies attack. You then have to fend off the attack and during the process you learn of who your enemies are.
The story develops at a fair pace. You learn about whom the enemies are in the first level, but their motives are not revealed until you progress a little bit further. The attacking group is known as ADAN- a rival faction that broke off from the coalition that you fight for. These ADAN forces are determined to 'liberate' the people in your coalition from supposed tyranny and corrupt government rule. But instead of being on the liberating front (as you would usually find yourself in most games) you fight for peace and justice and all that sort of thing.
But being on the republic side of a giant space war has its advantages – you get the best equipment. The ship that you fly is known as the Delta Saber, and even though you are a rookie you have the privilege of piloting a prototype spacecraft that can out-do any other fighter in either fleet. The weapons that you are provided with seem somewhat over-sized for the craft but you somehow manage to carry a giant warship railgun under your Delta Saber with no hassles. You can select from a variety of nose weapons such as machine guns, laser guns, and laser beams; wing weapons such as missiles, bombs, and cannons; and underneath your craft you carry giant anti-warship boomsticks that almost dwarf the Delta Saber itself.
The missions are a good mix of escorts, defense, and offense. It seems to cycle between the three types of mission in an articulate order but you may find yourself on a mission that seems quite unexpected – like battling a giant enemy warship prototype. The variety is not broad but the missions can range from being enjoyable to just plain frustrating. It takes quite a bit of patience to play the game for more than two hours straight but over time you get used to the formula.
The graphical detail in Project Sylpheed is absolutely phenomenal – it provides the perfect amount of dazzling weapon and vehicle traces and absolute clarity. It can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming to be in the middle of a battle as the trails of missiles, lasers, and fighters create a web of confusion. But once you pull yourself out of the fray you can have perfect vision of the whole battle zone. The graphics for the Delta Saber itself are incredibly detailed. When you initiate your super-boost the Delta Saber streaks and stretches – this reflects the speed at which you are traveling incredibly accurately.
Project Sylpheed is a really cool space-combat simulator, if you can bear with the soppy storyline of love and loss and the repetitive missions. The only let down for this game is its lack of multiplayer and the bad voice-overs. The speed of the game is quite daunting at first but it takes only a few minutes to master all the controls and start taking down hordes of enemy fighters. If you enjoy a good dogfight in the vacuum of space then head down and pick up a copy of Project Sylpheed. It will provide you with at least twelve hours of solid gameplay but a further sixteen hours if you decide to redo the game in the hardest difficulty setting. So what are you waiting for? A gargantuan space war is waiting!