With the hype surrounding it, the Capcom logo, and clean images on the back of the game case, it might be safe to assume that P.N.03 is a good game. This is by no means the case. This game suffers from bad game play, shoddy controls, and a huge overdose of repetition.
P.N.03 takes place from a third person perspective in a futuristic world that hasn’t really been seen in a video game before. This is about the only thing original in the game. The player takes control of a mercenary by the name of Vanessa Z. Schneider. Vanessa likes to kill her enemies gracefully by dodging bullets and jumping around like a gymnast. However, the way she eliminates enemies is by no means exciting. Vanessa carries no gun or blade and will never touch enemies through hand-to-hand combat. Instead, she wields a sci-fi suit that shoots energy blasts from her hand. It’s not really as interesting as it may sound. Unfortunately, the game is also linked together by a weak story. Apparently, Vanessa is working for some client who wants some dirty jobs done.
Levels are as linear as can be. Players will start at one end of a room and the goal is to reach the other side. Rooms range in size but will usually be completed anywhere from five seconds to one minute. At the end of every room, a summary screen will display. Here, the amount of enemies you killed, the time, and how many rooms remaining will be shown. This is good way to know if you missed anything. But since all the levels and rooms are linear, chances are you won’t miss anything. There are no puzzles to solve, no blocks to push, and no ledges to climb. The only thing in this game is repetitive combat.
When an enemy is on screen, the game will lock onto the target automatically. The player then just has to press the fire button to dispose of the enemy. If an enemy fires a blast at you, then Vanessa can dodge it in a number of ways. She can step to either side or jump out of the way in the form of a back flip. Ducking is also possible as is rolling on the ground. Even though there are a few ways to dodge incoming attacks, she only has two forms of attack. Besides from the palm shot, a special move can be unleashed by performing a Street Fighter like combination on the D-pad. These super moves are used in limited quantity. There are two meters at the top of the screen. One is health, and the other is for the aforementioned super moves.
Performing all these moves may look cool, but actually pulling them off can be a hassle. Instead of controlling this character in a fluid motion, she moves in small chunks. She moves as if she was an ungreased robot. There is no strafe and she can only shoot when she is standing still. If she could run and gun, then there would be no need for her fancy dodging moves. Capcom shot themselves in the foot with this one. She can’t even grab and hold on to ledges.
The default control scheme is the best layout for this game. “A” is used to shoot and “B” is used to jump. If a specific direction is used in conjunction with “B” then a Vanessa will jump in that direction. “Y” ducks and “X” switches between targets on the screen. “Z” is used to turn 180 degrees. “L” and “R” are used to side step in the corresponding direction. The D-pad is used to perform super moves by pressing certain button combinations and the C-Stick controls the camera. For the most part, the camera is usually cooperative thanks to the automatic target lock on. But since lock on will always happen onscreen, this eliminates the possibility of manual sniping. The control layout is good, but actually controlling Vanessa takes some practice and getting used too.
Vanessa herself is graphically clean and smooth. She sports a sexy futuristic suit complete with sunglasses. The environments are clean as well. However, since every level looks exactly the same, the player will probably tire of this quickly. There are some nice particle effects as well. Each bullet will leave a mark in the wall or kick up earth if a shot hits the dirt. A major downfall is that there are very few movies. Usually before each boss battle there will be a quick FMV that lasts for about five seconds. These short movies should have been longer and more frequent.
The game has some average tunes. It suits the game well but will grow boring within time. Basic sounds effects are present as well. Shooting sound and explosions are best heard in Dolby Digital.
If you love to break your controller by a constant tap of the “A button then this game is for you. This game redefines the term boredom. Since there is mainly only one way to attack, gamers will put this game down by the second level. However, if you manage to stick through the torture, gamers will also be let down that this game can be beaten in about 4-5 hours. There is no multiplayer mode, which leaves very little room for replay value. However, new suits are available for upgrade but each are so close in comparison to the last, there is little reason or incentive to get them all. Plus, since the game is so short, players will probably only unlock two suits before the game is over. There is a trial mode, but this is just simply playing the same levels over again.
Controlling Vanessa is nothing more than a chore with her blocky play control. She may dance like Ulala from Space Channel Five but her controls are just too chunky. And how can you have a successful third person shooter without a run and gun feature? You can’t even jump and shoot. These are simple moves that need to be in a game like this. And since she can’t even jump and hold on to ledges, any hopes of platforming are thrown out the window.
Combat becomes very dull. Here is the sequence of events when encountering an enemy: shoot the robot a few times, dodge his bullet with the tap of “R”, shoot him a few more times until dead. This repeats over and over. There is no variation at all. This goes for level design too. The same white background gets old and each level looks exactly the same as the last.
P.N.03 is a very disappointing game. There was some hype surrounding this game and it is a GameCube exclusive, but it needs a lot more work. No one wants to play the same thing over and over. Only if you a huge fan of mindless shooters would I recommend a rental for this game. This game is definitely not worthy of a purchase, not even if you see if cheap. Stay away from this game and go play Devil May Cry, Tenchu, or Rygar instead.