By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne Rating: Average Most games out on the market these days have some kind of catchy appeal to them, a hook to draw consumers in. For Ehrgeiz the hook is that you get to fight in multi-tiered arenas and play as several characters from Final Fantasy 7 (!). Can these two factors make Ehrgeiz an instant classic, though? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The fact is that a fighting game is just that- a fighting game, and to tell you the truth I have a hard time classifying Ehrgeiz as that. Ehrgeiz suffers from a serious split personality disorder which should have been taken care of before it ever got its pretty little logo on a CD. One minute I think Iím playing a fairly impressive fighting game and the next minute Iím running field and track events against Tifa. Iíll come back to the track and field issue in a moment, but right now Iíd like to focus on what the developers of this game should have focused on: the fighting. To be honest, the fighting was very fun at first, but I slowly grew tired of it. This was mainly because Ehrgeiz is on a very thin line between being a button masher and being... uh, whatever a non- button masher is called. This is due to the fact that there are very few moves for every character, and combos are very easy to perform by going crazy with the control pad. All of this leads up to the climatic moment when your opponent gets so frustrated, they finally exclaim, "Gosh, youíre such a cheater!" or "Why donít you use some other freakin' moves for a change?" These remarks become second nature to most people after playing this game for only 15 minutes. One thing that I personally liked at first (notice that I said at first) was the option to push the O button and use your character's unique special attack. For instance, Cloud can pull out his sword and perform moves with it, while Tifa releases a pretty cool energy ball which made me what to yell, "Hadoooken!" The downside to these moves, however, is that some characters' special moves are very unfair and can cause a 12-year-old girl who usually sticks to playing Mario Party to whoop up on a 26-year-old male who has been playing fighting games since Street Fighter. I think I should comment on the characters since thatís what usually pops into someoneís head when they think of this game. Yes, you can play as Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth. Along with them are some other creative characters who were not in FF7, but none of which strike me as "classic characters." One fault with the game that deals with the characters is when you play the arcade game, the characters are always fought in the same exact order. This leads me to believe that the characters arenít balanced because it's a given that that game gets harder as you progress, so it's obvious that itís not the difficulty level thatís rising, itís that the characters are just better as you get farther into the game. I donít think I need to tell you that a fighting game is nowhere near awesome if the characters arenít balanced. Oops, I guess I just did... I initially thought that the combat arenas almost make up for Ehrgeiz's average play mechanics. Itís a very fresh and cool idea to be able to run around the arena instead of always facing your opponent, but it gets old after a while when you realize there is no point in running around the arena in the first place. Maybe if you could jump up onto a ledge and do a cool flying kick off of it or something like that there would be sense in running around, but the arenas are small, boring, and stupidly designed. What I expected were countless strategies to knock out my opponent and what I got was a cowardice romp around a generic arena. The quest mode is something you will either love or hate. If you liked Tobal No. 1ís quest mode (or Tobal 2ís if youíre an import junkie) then youíll probably like Ehrgeiz's quest mode because itís way better then Tobalís. However, I fail to see the entertainment in running around a bunch of square dungeons that all look the same while I constantly hack at generic monsters to collect pointless items. On top of that, the quest mode's story line is weak, if you consider it a story line to begin with. Not many games can give me headaches, but Ehrgeiz's quest mode made me run to the medicine cabinet for two extra strength Tylenol. I donít really want to give any respect to the mini games in Ehrgeiz by writing about them because they suck horribly. Whose bright idea was it to create a mini game that requires you mash the X button to successfully win a hurdle race? It seems Mario Party's influence is spreading faster than Iíd like it to. Ehrgeiz had the potential to become a really great fighting game. Everything blew up in Square's faces, though, when they tried to jam pointless mini-games, quest modes, and multi-tiered playing arenas into it instead of focusing in on the gold mine that was right under their noses. Square should stop making fighting games and focus on what counts- Final Fantasy 9, or hereís a brilliant idea, Chrono Trigger 2.
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