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Oni Review:


A viable, though short-lived, alternative to fisticuffs is armed combat. Konoko can grab one of several weapons from an opponent and use it strategically, such as when she is low on health or needs to reduce the numbers of enemies in the distance before charging forward. Each weapon requires one of two kinds of ammunition: ballistic or energy. This ammunition can be gathered from fallen enemies or obtained from non-player characters -- and is in short supply. In order to further emphasize the melee combat, Konoko carries one weapon at a time, though there were a couple of maps where I was able to effectively use guns grabbed from different enemies to avoid melee combat for an extended period of time. During the battles, Konoko and her opponents have to reload their weapons, and even the enemies will eventually run out of ammunition and be forced to use their fists.

Two of the ballistic weapons are the Campbell Equalizer and the Hughes Black Adder, both of which are sidearms that recoil when shot, affecting Konoko's aim. Another potent, though unwieldy, ballistic weapon is the Scram Cannon, which shoots swarms of homing missiles toward its target. Konoko is unable to run when wielding this firearm, therefore balancing out its powerful punch with an inability to avoid nearby enemies. The Mercury Bow is another ballistic weapon; it fires a "compressed sliver of frozen mercury" [full disclosure -- that description comes from the help screen] that can kill its target with a single shot. Then there's the powerful grenade launcher, which burns off enough health to drop its target with a single shot. One of the energy-based weapons is the Plasma Rifle, a quick-shot gun that fires a speeding ball of -- what else? -- plasma. This weapon's targeting reticule, combined with the unwaveringly straight-line pursuit of most of the enemies, ensures that Konoko rarely misses. The VDG Pistol, another energy-based weapon, emits a beam that momentarily stuns enemies, enabling our heroine to unleash a deadly combo; this one is great to use when sneaking up behind someone. There is also the Phase Stream Projector, which emits a short-distance laser beam.

Oni ScreenshotKonoko finds herself doing a lot more than beating people up: She also explores 14 vast maps, some of which rival Unreal's larger areas for sheer scope. Navigating the maps entails the same basic element we've seen in countless 3D shooters -- hitting computer terminals to access new areas. There are no true puzzles, except when Konoko must avoid motion detectors. Scripted sequences such as NPCs being shot or TCTF agents battling alongside Konoko liven things up though, and the surviving NPCs are more than glad to offer Konoko some ammunition or health. Some of the attractive settings include the requisite warehouse, a manufacturing plant, a bioresearch lab, an airport terminal, a science prison, excursions across rooftops and more. Although environmental detail is minimal, Konoko will encounter steam emanating from moving machine parts, rain, snow and more. The locations are well designed from an architectural standpoint and contain some nice visual features, such as colored lights and glass that shatters into a million pieces.

Aiding Konoko in her quest are two rare items -- a force field and an invisibility sphere. The force field reduces the damage Konoko suffers during combat and is diminished as she is hit. The invisibility sphere is even rarer and enables Konoko to run through an area undetected. In one heart-stopping sequence, Konoko must grab the sphere and run across an open field patrolled by guards. If the player’s timing is perfect, she will slip through the door of a compound and into relative safety as the shield falls.


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