PS2 REVIEW: S.L.A.I. STEEL LANCER ARENA INTERNATIONAL

Finally, a game that features giant fighting mechs.

I am being halfway serious. If you know me you know that I love huge battling robots. It's like a fetish. I am both stimulated and horrified all at the same time - kind of like being in an A&W restaurant. Can they legally call their establishment a restaurant? Hey Dave, A&W isn't one of our advertisers, are they? Good. You should see what those bastards have done to my waistline this past summer.

S.L.A.I. stands for Steel Lancer Arena International. I just knew that you wanted to know what that meant so I got it out of the way. Your wish is my command. What? No I can't do that. No I won't do that. I have your IP address you little freak, and I have half a mind to tell your mother. You are the mother? In that case I do have half a mind. And yes I will. What time? That will be fine. Just look for the fat guy with the A&W root beer mug and mustard stains on the front of his shirt - I'll be the guy standing next to him. In the event that there isn't anyone else standing next to him you may as well ask that fat root beer guy to go with you. He's not a bad fellow once you get to know him. Buy him some onion rings and get on his good side.

With my unnatural fascination of mech fighting I could be either a connoisseur of such games or an over zealous kook that is blinded by his own desires. Frankly, I'm somewhere in between. I am willing to overlook some flaws - much as I'm willing to overlook at least 20 - 30 pounds on a girl that gives me any attention whatsoever. That number could go a lot higher if I've been drinking. That includes root beer.

S.L.A.I. is not without its flaws. Gamers that aren't fanatical about the genre will complain a lot more than I, but I would be remiss if I didn't point them out. There they are. Did you see them? Perhaps that was too fast for you. You're not slow are you? Is someone reading this to you?

The gameplay mirrors virtual reality in that these fights take place in a cyberspace arena, which they do. You can play against computer-controlled bots in the single-player mode or you can challenge up to five other humans on the internet. You might have to wait a few weeks because there is virtually no one on like now except for game reviewers and the lucky punks that the reviewers give the game to when they're done reviewing it. A two-player split screen mode is available if you can't find anyone online. It's better than nothing.

Don't let the minor flaws scare you away. The gameplay is deep and lots of fun. An excellent tutorial will get you started. Even if you're a bit of an idiot like me you'll be up and running in no time. Although the difficulty increases later in the game you should have no trouble kicking some major robot ass early on. This will not only build your confidence but the money that you earn will help you build a better bot.

These bots are called SVs. If you want to know what that means you're going to have to buy the game because I'm sick of doing everything for you. They can have legs or wheels. There are literally thousands of combinations of add-ons, weapons and upgrades that you can purchase or rent. The rent option is a good way to get high-powered and high-priced items that you wouldn't normally have access to so early in the game. This will allow you to make some major kills and earn a lot of money in a short period of time.

It's fairly easy to psych yourself out with all these upgrades and configurations but don't fall prey to the sim element. Outfit your SV with some good ranged and melee weapons and just go out there and fight, or should I say "rumble?"

Maneuvering your SV around is not easy and it's not pretty. There are certain things in the environment that will block your path that really shouldn't. It's a problem with the collision detection system. Trying to jump over a small piece of shrapnel can turn into a nightmare. You can let this ruin your experience or you can adapt. Just activate the targeting system and shoot away and do as much damage as you can. Then get the hell out of there, fast. Kind of like what I do when I go to the toilet in an A&W.

We've all seen better-looking games. The graphics are a little on the low-res side but keep in mind that the graphics are only replicating a digital game taking place in cyberspace and not replicating something from real-life. There are a lot of annoying numbers and symbols onscreen, (HUD) but they get less annoying once you understand what they all mean which surprisingly doesn't take long. The sound effects pack a good wallop but nothing stands out as unique. Even the music is kind of generic.

It would be easy to dismiss this game as average or even looking like a budget title but it does have character and personality not to mention a great deal of depth. The challenges are a lot of fun and the difficulty is dangled in front of you like a carrot on a stick, it's never forced down your throat making you feel like an inept loser. If more people get online this could really take off, but for now the single-player mode is still good enough to recommend trying it out.

System: PS2
Dev: Konami
Pub: Konami
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1 -6 Online
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.5