PS2 REVIEW: D.I.C.E.: DNA INTEGRATED CYBERNETIC ENTERPRISES

DICE: DNA Integrated Cybernetics Enterprises has so much missed potential that you have to wonder if the developers were as concerned as making the best game possible or just pandering to the loyal fans of the TV show that would find the game acceptable.

It's not imperative that you know anything about the TV show, I don't, and I doubt I ever will unless I fall asleep in a drunken stupor and wake up to it playing on the channel that the TV was last set at and I can't be bothered to reach past the bowl of soggy tacos to reach for the remote.

Here's some back history. In a nutshell, there are a group of teenagers that command large dinosaur-like mechs that can transform into various armed vehicles that attack swarms of enemy drones with powerful weapons. These transformers are called Dinobreakers. You begin with a very simple robot and ultimately work your way up to a more sophisticated fighting machine capable of devastating ranged and melee attacks. The basic premise of the game is to enter into an arena and clear out all of the enemies in order to move on to the next arena. It's button mashing simplicity at its finest. It's easy enough for beginners to pick-up-and-play and the gradual difficulty curve will stave off frustration - at the expense of depth.

In each level you will collect metal chips that will unlock the garage where you can purchase new weapons and upgrades as well as new characters and new arenas. The gameplay tends to get redundant so it's broken up with different elements such as the ability to walk, run, roll, jump-jet or fly with your Dinobreaker. The method of locomotion that you choose could determine the outcome of the battle. Some enemies require that you slam your body into them and run them up against a wall. Others will require that you run away and take pots shots at them from a relatively safe distance. Bosses offer more of a challenge but only until you can determine their patterns. As in Mech Assault if you take too many hits or fire too quickly your Dinobreaker will overheat causing the pilot to eject. Although he's equipped to deal some damage it's best to hide and wait until it cools off since he's nowhere near as powerful as the Dinobreaker.

Running races is another element of the gameplay that offers some diversion. The paths are like obstacle courses and will require you to use virtually all of your moves as you boost your mech over hazards and look for shortcuts. A two-player mode lets you and a friend battle it out in a bot arena. Each match starts out with the pilots sans their mechs as they fight hand-to-hand, eventually gaining control of their giant robots as they continue to slug it out metal-to-metal. The first one to run out of energy is the loser. The matches are too short and there's not enough diversion to keep them interesting. An online Deathmatch mode would have been a welcome addition.

DICE isn't a bad looking game but the graphics are unbalanced. The mechs are sparkly and nicely detailed but the environments are plain and boring. They aren't as destructible as those in Mech Assault. The sound effects and voiceovers may be faithful to the cartoon but I'm not going to waste a half-hour of my life to make that confirmation. Thankfully the storyline is streamlined so you won't feel too bogged down with superfluous information.

DICE never really takes off. It's like being stranded in an airport during a storm that never clears. The repetitive nature of the gameplay and the easy control system puts this firmly in the classification of an arcade game. I expect something a little deeper for the home system.

System: PS2
Dev: Bandai
Pub: Natsume
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Daemia
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
2.0
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
2.0