If thereâ€™s one thing the Xbox 360 is lacking, itâ€™s interstellar space shooters. The 360 has plenty of racers and shooters and the like, but Square Enix dared to take this console to galaxies afar. Possessing a strong anime feel, Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception isnâ€™t a very complex game. The simple battle tactics wonâ€™t appeal many flight enthusiasts, but with a price tag of $39.99 itâ€™s still worth checking out for some.
Picking up Project Sylpheed isnâ€™t too difficult, and for the complete beginner a tutorial will walk you through anyways. The left and right triggers work for brake and acceleration, respectively, and double tapping either of these have extreme effects. You can cut the power, which has your ship only move on inertia, or you can activate the afterburners and fly at blinding speeds. The bumper buttons are used for primary and secondary weapons and the control stick aims your ship in the right direction.
The controls are very intuitive and easy to get a hang of, and for the experts youâ€™ll have even a few more moves at your disposal. The â€˜Bâ€™ button is the maneuver button, and it can be used in conjunction with other commands to have you feeling like an ace pilot. With the control stick you can flip around 180 degrees or level off on your horizontal axis, and you can also perform barrel rolls or automatically face an enemy. Other features, such as being able to match the speed of your enemy or the ability to boss your co-pilots around, all work together to make you feel in control of the situation.
With so much control available one would expect for the actual missions to be heated and involved, but there within lies the problem. Even the fiercest dogfights merely include locking on to foes, chasing them down, and then firing your lock-on missiles. The HUD automatically tracks and targets the nearest enemy to you, so your job is to point your ship in the right direction and fire. This process becomes very mechanical and systematic after a while, which can lead to a tedious space quest in no time.
As you progress through your career, you can unlock new weapons for development. Points earned in missions can be used towards researching new weapons, which you can then attach to your ship. Thereâ€™s a nice variety of weapon classes, each of which has its own perks. Some lasers can be very light and are great for shooting down quick ships, but sometimes you just need to take out the heavy artillery to bring down a heavy cruiser.
In its defense, Project Sylpheed is filled with plenty of side objectives to break up the tedium. Missions later on in the game will feature all different types of enemy vessels, which will require you to switch between your weapons on the fly (you can switch between three primary weapons at any time). Itâ€™s tough to tell what kind of foes youâ€™re up against in battle though, and chances are by the time you find out the weak point you could have just as easily wiped it out with any lock-on weapon. In a way it makes you feel stupid for learning all the ins and outs of your Delta Saber, and the lack of any online mode doesnâ€™t help either.
On the plus side, anime fans and action junkies will have something to take away from the presentation. The cinematics are incredibly detailed and depict some truly adrenaline pumping dogfights, but sadly as a gamer we never get to participate in such moments. In battle, the sounds are what youâ€™d expect from any space title and the voice acting is on par. Sylpheed does a nice job at capturing the vastness of space, but thereâ€™s no real sense of speed as a result. Occasionaly you can get caught up in the moment as spacecrafts whiz around you and colorful trails fill up the screen, but this game does have a fair amount of dull moments as well.
In short, Project Sylpheed has a solid foundation, but a lot of the game is simply unnecessary. Technically you could spend all of your time flipping around through space with the latest weapon technology and a perfectly commanded squadron, but when you break it down youâ€™re simply locking on to targets and firing away. Still, itâ€™s the only game in its specific genre for the 360 and the presentation isnâ€™t all that bad, but unless youâ€™re really dying for an intergalactic space battle at this moment you should wait for a more polished release.