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Score: 70%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Ion Storm
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Daikatana are passable, but dated. The game uses a modified Quake II engine, and although the developers no doubt worked hard on trying to make the game look as good as most modern-day games, it never quite makes it all the way. Especially unsettling are the first few levels, with their almost monotone greens and grays and browns. Luckily, the graphical beat picks up as you get farther into the game and into the later episodes, but you’ll have to slog through a swamp of, err, swamp before you can see where the game really looks good. The enemy models are adequate, if not terribly impressive, and the character models’ habit of talking without moving their mouths is a touch disconcerting.

The voice-acting is passable, neither outstanding nor Resident Evil. The sound effects are pretty atrocious at the beginning of the game (you’ll learn to dread the buzzing of the mechanical mosquitoes very, very fast), but soon move into the bearable range. I still shiver when I think of the sound of the sludge-shooting robots coming after me. Ugh.


Daikatana is the tale of Hiro Miyamoto and, as you get further into the game, his two sidekicks, on a quest through time to save the world. The plot is passably interesting; involving a mystical bad-ass sword (the Daikatana) and lots of Bad Guy Weirdness (tm), but in the end, Daikatana is a first-person shooter, through and through. You blow the crap out of things, open doors, and blow the crap out of more things.

Unfortunately, Daikatana starts out poorly and only slowly improves, eventually reaching a point where you’ll be moderately interested in what’s going on, but never really getting excited. The first episode, set in Japan in 2455, will make you want to scream. It feels like it was made early on in Daikatana’s extremely long development cycle, and as such, plays almost shamefully poorly. You will fight lots of mosquitoes, frogs, and a crocodile or two. And that’s honestly about it, until halfway through the second “mission,” which is actually five or six map-changes in. Daikatana sports some of the hugest levels of any FPS, but they’re more meta-levels than levels in and of themselves, as you’ll see a load screen or three in each mission. Luckily, the engine being Quake II and not Quake III, you’ll find your load times almost nonexistent on any modern machine.

The level design and enemies get a lot more interesting by the time that you get to the past, along with the weapons, although you’ll never find yourself really in awe of the game. Sure, some of the architecture (especially in ancient Greece) is gorgeous, but not enthrallingly so; some of the enemies are interesting, but never really awe-inspiring. The weapons also move away from the completely generic “gun” as you move to the past, but the game still just never seems to get the pep needed to keep it going. The A.I. (or lack thereof) of your teammates doesn’t help the situation; watch them completely ignore health packs, ammo, and anything else remotely useful as they bumble around the level with you. And since you can’t let them die, you’ll find yourself annoyed to no end once they come on board.


The difficulty in Daikatana is configurable, with suitably different enemies in each one to make it a proper challenge. The sidekicks cause a difficulty ramping in and of themselves as you try to get them to do what you want and not die all the time, which is totally separate from the difficulty selection at the beginning of the game.

Game Mechanics:

The game’s controls are very similar to Quake and Unreal, and in fact are highly configurable, as all games should be. You may forget that you have a Use button, but the healing trees that abound are handy enough to make you look through the config options and find the right button to press. Mouse-and-keyboard is probably your best bet, as is to be expected.

Daikatana is not a terrible game, or even a bad game, but neither is it a good game. It sits in that realm of mediocrity. If you can tough it through the first few levels, you may even have a good time for a while. But much better times can be had from other games in the genre. Unless you’re a die-hard Romero fan, spending your hard-earned money on some other title will probably be your best course of action.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

P233, Win95/98, 32MB RAM, 200MB HD Space, 4X CD-ROM, DirectX 6.0 compatible Sound Card, Keyboard and Mouse, Hardware 3D acceleration

Test System:

Windows 98 running on a K6-III 450 w/256MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster Live!, Creative Labs Riva TNT2 Ultra w/32MB RAM

Windows American McGee’s Alice Sony PSOne Test Drive: Off-Road 2

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated