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Azurik: The Rise Of Perathia

Adrenium Games





Get a load on the Xbox exclusive action/adventure title, Azurik, who looks to cut up Nintendo's all time great, Zelda.

Adrenium Games is a studio within the Amaze Entertainment group, and was founded in 1999 with the unique goal of surprising, amusing and captivating even the most seasoned gamer. In December of 1999, the company entered into an arrangement with Microsoft to develop an exclusive title for the upcoming Xbox console. Other than revealing it to be of the action/adventure genre, Adrenium released no details until Microsoft's GameStock event in March of 2000. The company's epic adventure "Azurik: The Rise of Perathia" hit the media world hard.

Of course, no game of the sort goes by without being compared to Nintendo's all time great Zelda series. Right off the bat, Azurik turned heads as being a next-generation action/adventure title as well as the Xbox's very own answer to Zelda. Adrenium had a lot to compete with, maybe even more than it would hope for when developing its first game. As soon as the game was revealed, the media heaped towering expectations and hopes for the Xbox exclusive title, which looked spectacular even at its even early stages. The potential was certainly there.

Fast-forward to the present; Azurik: The Rise of Perathia (A: TROP, or simply Azurik) is in stores across North America. Some gamers have been picking up their copies eager to see how Microsoft takes on Nintendo in this arena. Still others waited to see if the game delivered on its promise. With high expectations, the game disc was placed in the console and loaded up.

Azurik: TROP is based in a unique world going by the name of Perathia (part of the game's title, get it). In order to maintain peace and harmony, 5 powers (elements) exist; Air, Water, Fire, Life and Death. Each element has a designated guardian, responsible for watching over that respective realm of Perathia. Each element/realm also consists of a disk, one like no other. The disk holds a great source of power to that in possession of it. The Death disk has however been missing for quite a period of time, but it was even closer then ever expected. Enter the evil "bad" guy, named Balthazar, an older and very well skilled guardian. By accident, he comes by the Death disk. Later that night, Balthazar is brainwashed by some kind of demon and tries to steal the disk with the intention of harming Perathia. In the ensuing commotion the five elemental disks are broken and spread throughout the vast world.

Then in comes Azurik, the youngest guardian. Trained well with his axion (double sided sword type object), Azurik must return everything to its normal state. His mission is to find all pieces of the disks and return them to the Temple, where Perathia can, as a final point, be restored. I soon found out this would be more then a 2 hour task. The storyline continues to evolve smoothly throughout the voyage, which is a very strong aspect in terms of depth.

Games of this genre seem to be quite long, and boy does Adrenium give a new meaning to that word in general. A game can be long and boring, which I would then rather play a shorter yet more interesting title. To say the least, Azurik: TROP will have you addicted right from the start. As the game goes on and you accomplish more deeds, you will find you want to play even more. The exploring is what the game is all about. Perathia is so damn large that you may find yourself lost on several occasions. Now is that a good thing? It can be to a certain point. I was sometimes frustrated that I could not do anything more, but after pushing myself to play further, I always found my way out of the situation. Patience is a key element in playing Azurik. If you expect to complete everything and move on easily, you will quickly proved otherwise. Obstacles are placed throughout your journey so perfectly that actual mind testing comes in (be aware, very aware!).

Azurik: TROP's Artificial Intelligence (A.I) is not exactly dumb, but I wouldn't characterize it as being too bright either. Some opponents swing their weapons left and right with no sense of strategy (dumb), where others leave battles when close to death and wait for helpers (smart). Team attacks will sometimes also take place, when two more little creatures take various sides of Azurik and try to surround him.

There is no doubt that strategy is essential in order to take out the bigger enemies and disk guardians. Using the proper element at the proper place may be the difference between life and death. The difficulty also mounts as the game goes on. You will find yourself killing the first opponents with ease; jab, jab, jab, then throw in another jab. But as the game progresses, a certain combination starts to appear, the opponents become quicker, smarter, faster and bigger.

Like most action/adventure games, Azurik: TROP only features one, single player, game mode. It's basically the whole game, storyline and journey. Some kind of multiplayer death match would have been cool, keeping in mind the game's elements. Just imagine the possibilities, even online can't be out of the question. To truly capture the "next-generation" title, something special and captivating would need to have been added to make Azurik: TROP stand out from the crowd around it. As it is, this is a solid game that plays extremely well.

Azurik's controls can be both simple and complex. In order to use elements (which are powers), a specific button combo must be used (left trigger hold, plus element color button, let go trigger). This can be confusing at times and hard to get down the first time around. To make things simpler, Adrenium added a small training before actually heading off in the game, which does in fact help. In terms of using Azurik's axion; one button is jab and another is sweep, quite effortless. Then come the combos, maneuverable by clicking both those buttons and aiming in specific directions with the D-pad.

One of the hardest things to swallow is the camera angle. You'll have some difficulties finding the correct view when in combat, and actually, when playing in general. Jumping can be frustrating at times due to the specific angle being too low, or too high (thank god for the manual setting). After a couple hours the camera and most of Azurik's controls will be learned, but not necessarily second nature. With all this said and done, there are more mixed feelings about Azurik's control scheme than anything else.

Knowing Azurik: TROP was designed specifically for the Xbox gave the game some kind of lead in the graphics department. Adrenium had a large amount of time to focus on the advantages the Xbox has to offer. Now that I have spent many hours with the game, I can't exactly say the game turned out as well as I had expected. Maybe Bungie spoiled everybody with Halo. Some things looked like they weren't ready where as others looked absolutely stunning.

Azurik's character was well designed; the original "blue" look was different, and unique if you look at other video games these days. Same goes for pretty much the whole game; everything has its very own distinctiveness. Each realm was developed with the element it represents in mind, meaning water won't be seen in the fire stages and so on. The characters all vary in height, weight, sexes and age, adding yet another degree of "reality" within the world. The time of day also changes; 5 minutes are allotted to daylight and another 5 to pure darkness. When it comes to being diverse, Adrenium did a fine job, thanks in most part to its artists.

The lighting effects are spectacular; the ice and water look real, Azurik's armor and axion shine depending on the time of day and the sun gives the objects/characters in Perathia's world a shadow that varies within the characteristics of that specific article. I found each of these factors very constructive to Azurik: TROP's overall look and fun factor.

The soundtrack is quite impressive to say the least. The music played depends on the characters position in the game, and changes without hesitation. The soundtrack alone sets a mood for the whole game, and actually brought me right into it. The voice acting is decent, but not outstanding. Each character has his/her own individual voice, making them distinctive even without their visual. On the other hand, the voices can get quite annoying. Hearing the same girl say the same thing every couple of minutes becomes frustrating to a degree where I just wanted to avoid conversations. Maybe not a mute button, but some kind of extra options for the character voices would have been nice.

Adrenium did a good job developing its first video game, but nonetheless, falls short of perfect in several ways. Hopefully the company can improve on their mistakes, and even develop a sequel to Azurik: The Rise of Perathia.

Matt Thomas
Link - Azurik cage match. Tonight at 10pm, only on BBC4.

Azurik: The Rise Of Perathia: The Scores













The Final Word:  Azurik is a great first party title, but I do not recommend it to everyone. If you're a fan of the genre, pick it up, if not, you may want to stay away from it. The game demands a certain passion for the action/adventure genre, old and new and school alike. It also requires some time, some patience, and then some more time. If interested, rent. The best advice is to give the game some time, it gets better and better!

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