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Project Sylpheed: Arc of Deception

Project Sylpheed
Square Enix/Microsoft
Website: Official Site
Estimated Street Price: $39.99/£39.99
Review By:
Byron Hinson


Project Sylpheed has had my eye for some time, ever since it was first released in Japan last year in fact. It is the successor to Silpheed: The Lost Planet for the Playstation 2, which was a overhead vertical shooter. Project Sylpheed, however, is a much different game than its predecessor, featuring fully-free space dogfighting and bombing runs, much like Descent: Freespace. The games plot takes place in the 27th Century, 500 years since humanity had become a nomadic race who scour the universe seeking new worlds. The game features a broad variety of customization options for the players' craft.

Before we get into the current battle at hand in “Project Sylpheed,” we must discuss the history of the conflict. Originally titled “Silpheed,” the Game Arts-developed side-scrolling arcade classic of the 1980s has gone through multiple iterations over the years, prior to arriving on Xbox 360.

Set in the 27th century, the Xbox 360 exclusive “Project Sylpheed” combines aerial combat and customizable star-fighter weaponry into an engaging story, providing a unique arcade-style experience into a full space-combat game. Supported by a multi-leveled storyline and almost an hour of polished cinematic cut-scenes, “Project Sylpheed” features intense aerial combat combined with a dramatic tale of friends turned foes. The question is - does it succeed at any of these things?

Immerse yourself in the story-driven world of Project Sylpheed™. Developed exclusively for Xbox 360™and produced by famed game publisher Square Enix (Final Fantasy), the colorful arcade-style space combat game will leave you breathless with its intense action and vivid graphics. If the beautifully animated characters and environments don’t catch your eye, piloting the fully weapon-customizable fighter ship through exhilarating battles with swarms of enemy ships and immense vessels will.

  • Immersive storyline: Project Sylpheed features a deep storyline that revolves around the growth and maturation of the main character, Katana, who is torn from his friends as a result of political circumstances. Project Sylpheed has over 50 minutes of beautiful, engaging, dynamic and cinematic cut-scenes between intense battles, providing context to the intergalactic struggle linking good and evil. 
  • Intense intergalactic space combat: Pilot futuristic starfighters into swarms of enemies, strategically relying on your wingman and squadrons to successfully complete missions. Project Sylpheed challenges you to hold your own against enemy battleships and fortresses hundreds of times the size of your starfighter.
  • Customizable starfighters: Utilize the killer technique system with 50 different customizable weapon combinations to equip your advanced Delta Saber starfighter. An arsenal of offensive and defensive techniques are available for you to map to your gameplay style, including the ability to fire all weapons at once or use slow motion to avoid enemy fire. If you're an experienced pilot, you can also learn to execute difficult technical maneuvers to evade adversaries, including 180-degree turns and strafing.
  • Evolving next-gen gameplay: Based on the classic arcade side-shooter Silpheed, this next installment, Project Sylpheed, evolves the futuristic space combat gameplay into the next generation. Exclusively on Xbox 360, Project Sylpheed takes advantage of the processing power of the console to generate enormous maps and hundreds of enemy spaceships, all in beautiful 3-D.

How Does It play

Review Quotes
"The CG movies, while well animated and exciting are not of particularly good quality, this really shows off the lack of space on the DVD-ROM as it would have been nice to have some full high definition cutscenes rather than just upscaled content. "

Once you load up the game, you are greeted with the menu, from here I highly recommend everyone works through the training phases, these help teach you the controls and how the general UI works.  The controls take quite a bit to get used to as the more normal modes of shooting and flying have been strangely reversed here..the main firebutton is now the right bumper, while the secondary weapon is the left bumper, speed controls are done with the trigger buttons. The good news is that quite a few of the controls can be changed in the options, something most of us will probably do right away.

Let’s get the Square Enix logo out of the way first, it doesn’t mean much to this game as they didn’t really have too much of a hand in the making of the game, yeah it has the kind of cutscenes you would expect from them, but everything else differs greatly. The game plays in a similar way to Wing Commander on the PC years ago, except this has more confusing controls, poorer cutscenes and a much worse story. That doesn’t mean the game is bad though so please read on!

There are varying difficulty levels they are Easy, Normal and Hard, Easy adds extra little add-ons to the in-flight communication so that you get a better idea what to do. The first few missions are a bit of a strange one, everything seems to be happening all at once and for new players not used to the game it can seem a little bit overwhelming even on isn’t hard though, it is simply that it is very hard to see and hear what is going on.

The game follows the same mission scheme throughout, there is an intro movie that carries the story through, then you enter the mission play it for a short time, get another movie, then carry on the final part of the mission then another movie and then finally the debriefing where you find out how well you did and if you have managed to get one of the 20 odd achievements available in the game.

Project Sylpheed contains varying objects, primary, secondary etc – everything you would expect from a space shooter. Primaries tend to be destroying all enemies, stopping attacks, escorting friendly ships and trying to take down missiles heading for capital ships (early on). Secondary missions are a little harder to find as they are not given out to you at the start of a mission, sometimes radio chatter reveals them or just luck. Dying in the game isn’t the end though, which is a good thing considering just how long levels can go on for, if you die you just begin at either the 1st or 2nd part of a mission so you can carry on, but you do lose your secondary objectives

As I mentioned the missions can be quite frantic, but the more you play the easier it is to understand what is going on. The screen can be filled with small shots, carriers, destroyers and massive battleships so to take these on you need to make good use of your weapons. The game has a weapon development system, with this system you use the points you have gained for completing missions to develop new weapons. These can be lasers, missiles, guns and bombs. Not all weapons are open to you right away though and they will become available as the game goes on. Once the weapons have been developed they can be fitted to your space ship, there are four places in which they can be placed. Each weapon can only be placed in a specific area so you have to make good use of them.

The game has no multiplayer options which is a shame as I could see this being more fun online that the single player game is, especially as I don’t feel that I would ever want to replay through the game again. The game is very cinematic as would be expected from a Square Enix title, it comes with over an hour of CG animation which tends to be quite decent both in looks and action. There are also in-game cutscenes which are done with the engine which also helps to push the story forward and help break up the constant fighting.

As mentioned, the game has the usual achievements (22 I think it was) and for once as there is no online aspect to the game, they are all based on the single player game. For once the game shows off the achievements in a special in-game menu which is a nice touch as it doesn’t load up the Xbox 360 guide. I have noticed some problems though; some of the achievements have not shown up as completed despite be completing them, whether you have to complete every 1st and 2nd objective I don’t know, but only a few show up.

So really there is nothing to dislike about the game, but there is nothing in it that gets me excited enough to really recommend it. I’m pleased a space shooter has come out finally on the 360, but I would still like to see a full scale Wing Commander come back as that was the perfect one with great story, simple space shooting and nothing overly complicated, it was just right.

Graphics and Sound

Graphics are not partically hot either, the backgrounds feel very empty, but as the levels move on the number of ships start to build up. Small ships leave trails from their boosters which can sometimes make things confusing, at least to me, when there are lots of ships on the screen as you sometimes struggle to see what is going on. Ship designs are decent but once again nothing that stands out. The framerate is good most of the time, but in some missions there is noticeable slow down when under attack from a number of enemies or sometimes just a few enemies and a couple of larger ships, but in general you get a solid 30fps. It would have been nice to have a game like this as a proper 1080p game, but I’ve just had it upscaled from 720p. Text is also hard to read in the game when using the UI, a shame when trying to work out what to do while flying around.

The CG movies, while well animated and exciting are not of particularly good quality, this really shows off the lack of space on the DVD-ROM as it would have been nice to have some full high definition cutscenes rather than just upscaled content.

Sound though is much better, explosions are clear as is the constant communication made with your wingmen and other flyers. Everything works well in 5.1 sound and the music is very good too, it feels cinematic once again just as it should do for a game set in space.

Final Comments

Byron's Gamertag

So overall it is a mixed bag, if the game was a budget title I’d happily recommend it for a decent action game. The problem is that over here in the United Kingdom it will once again be sold for full price, it was also released nearly a year ago in Japan and things have moved on for the Xbox 360 since then so it would have been good to have had some improvements made to the game. I love space shooters, but I have had a hard time getting excited with Project Sylpheed, it looks ok, it sounds ok and it plays ok, so unfortunately it is just...ok. Nothing to offend and nothing to excite.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 65%
Version Reviewed Project Sylpheed (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Project Sylpheed (PAL) DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Decent Graphics
Good cutscenes
The Bad Points No Multiplayer
Nothing exciting
Slow down
HD Resolutions 480p

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