In the wake of Monster Hunter, it shouldn't surprise anybody to see a lot of copycats. After all, Capcom's multiplayer adventure game is the biggest series in Japan right now and is starting to crack Western markets. At first glance Gods Eater Burst looks like just another knock off. But dig deeper, because Namco has a PSP game that outdoes Monster Hunter in almost every way.
Let me start with a confession: I've never been enamored by the Monster Hunter franchise. Not on the PlayStation 2, PSP or, most recently, the Nintendo Wii (see: Monster Hunter Tri). I find this series to be too slow for my liking. The graphics look good and I'm intrigued by the depth, but I find the user interface to be unruly and hate waiting for the long attack animations. Monster Hunter is not for me.
Gods Eater Burst looks a lot like Capcom's popular adventure series. It feature anime characters with gigantic swords, enormous beasts to take down and wide open arenas perfect for the four-player action. But that's where the similarities end. Namco's newest PSP game is a fast-paced action title with just enough RPG elements to keep things interesting. Gone are the 30 second animations and sectioned off levels. Goodbye confusing controls and the complete lack of a targeting system. As far as I'm concerned, you will not be missed.
The first thing I noticed was that this game actually has a storyline. Gods Eater Burst takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where evil monsters (called Aragami) roam around killing anybody that gets in their path. You play a group of young spikey-haired warriors known as Gods Eater (though they confusingly refer to themselves as "God Eater" in the game), looking to take down the monsters and bring order to the planet. The set-up may not be very interesting, but the game provides enough interesting twists and turns to warrant a play through.
The story is really just an excuse to assign a bunch of missions to accomplish. The game starts off easy enough, usually only throwing a few enemies at the player and letting them explore (and find hidden loot). We're given a sword and gun; this allows each member of the Gods Eaters to have both long and close range attacks, making them a serious contender against these gigantic baddies. But don't get too comfortable, because it won't take long for the enemies to show their teeth and become a real challenge. Thankfully the game allows us to party up with two to four friends or computer-controlled helpers.
The game's missions are straight forward and easy to locate. For the most part, each mission gives you thirty minutes and a list of monsters to track down. Usually this is an easy task, something I was able to do in just a few minutes (sometimes less than a minute). But don't let the relative ease of the first few levels lull you into a false sense of security, because the difficulty ramps up in a hurry and boss fights can take a huge chunk of that thirty minutes. The end result is a game that is good at quick on-the-go bursts, as well as times when you really want to put some time into your questing.
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