P.N.03
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Capcom
Developer
Capcom
Genre
Shooter
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Suggestive Themes, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Great old school action
• Presentation is spot on
• Genuinely rewarding
• High replay value

The Bad

• Not for everyone
• Boss fights very disappointing
• Controls can take time to master
• Short

 
Grade
B-

The rather bizarrely monikered P.N.03 is Capcom's latest attempt to recapture the old school spirit which had been somewhat overlooked in recent years. Instead of incorporating fancy combat mechanics and lavish open levels, P.N.03 simply offers pure shooting action.

The basic plot is that the heroine Vanessa F Schneider (potentially the worst name ever given to a character) is a mercenary hired to clear a colonized planet of robot type things called CAMS by an unknown client. Nothing earth shattering, but then again in a game of this type, story is hardly important. The important thing is how she does this, and she does it with style. Vanessa wears combat suits called "Aegis suits" which basically allow her to fire lasers from her hands, whilst using her mad dancing skills to unleash special attacks upon the deadly CAMS, and avoiding getting shot.

This CAM blasting action takes place within the tunnels and rooms of the planets many complexes and follows strictly old school play mechanics. Within each room, Vanessa will encounter various kinds of enemies which can be taken out individually, or in groups to build up combo points. Shoot one enemy and timer appears to show you how long you have to kill the next one in order to build up your combo. After each room, Vanessa receives a score based on several factors - namely how many enemies you killed per combo, and whether or not you took damage whilst kicking arse. After completing a stage, these points can be exchanged for different Aegis suits, increased defense or firepower, or new special moves. The end of each stage also allows Vanessa to enter so called "Trial Stages" which are basically bonus missions to allow one to increase the amount of points for use in the shop. Finally, at the end of each chapter, Vanessa must face up to the big bad boss, as per standard in this type of game.

The controls, which at first seem a little cumbersome, soon become second nature with Vanessa dodging shots by strafing, jumping, ducking and cartwheeling around the screen. One thing which may appear a little limiting at first is that you cannot shoot whilst performing any action apart from standing still, however the nature of the enemy placement and the ease with which Vanessa can avoid enemy shots via careful use of the scenery simply means that an element of strategy is added to the game.

The graphics in P.N.03 are simple and highly stylized, pretty much every level is presented in stark black and white, with only Vanessa, the enemy CAMS, and the bullets fired by both parties standing out. Vanessa's character model is incredibly detailed and extremely well animated, as are most of the enemies you meet, and the whole game flows smoothly with little to no slowdown, even in the most intense firefights.

All is not great with P.N.03 however, the boss fights in particular, are incredibly disappointing seeing as how they can be disposed of with one special move most of the time. Also the main game is somewhat short, taking around 2-3 hours to complete without taking time to complete the trial missions presented at the end of each level. Another thing which, in my opinion, is severely lacking is the inclusion of a style rating at the end of levels. You can clear stages in as stylish a manner as you want, cartwheeling and unleashing special moves fluidly, but don't expect any recognition of your efforts at the end of the game. Simply dodging and shooting can give you the same score as playing the game as it was obviously meant to be played.

In summary, those expecting an action adventure game will be severely disappointed, however if you are looking for a great old school shooter in the vain of Space Invaders, Ikaruga or Raystorm, then P.N.03 is well worth buying. For those not sure then a rental is recommended.

- - Kid Spatula

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