toastyjaguar's Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast) review

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My entry into the world of MMORPG's...and it was awesome.

Phantasy Star Online was a very new experience for people like me who had been used to console gaming since, well since i first started playing video games! It's been a few years since i've played it so certain things like the story, i can't really remember. Something to do with an explosion on the Planet Ragol which has disrupted all forms of communication with what inhabitants were there, and it's your job to investigate the cause of this by recieving quests from the Hunters Guild.

Gameplay wise, PSO let you play online or offline which was only really useful if you didn't actually have access to the internet, so online is kind of where you want to be. But before you start your quest, the game let's you pick a class such as hunters, rangers or spell casters and customize your character with the usual set of tools you still see in more recent games. Once you jump into the online game with your character you were teleported to a sort of online lobby area where you would meet fellow players and try to organize a group of up to 4 players to go through the quests or just fight through the levels for items and experience. 

There are four main areas in the game with different levels or floors and at the end was a big boss. The levels were designed in a way for your group to interact with each in order for you to progress. So for example a door leading up into the next room had four buttons which your whole group had to stand on for it to open. Enemies in the rooms would appear in waves and it was just a case of killing them and healing your party depending on what class you chose. 

All in all, PSO was a milestone in online gaming for consoles and worked extremely well, even on the slow modems which came with the Dreamcast at the time. The game bought in elements which typically make MMORPG's so addictive and fun, such as item loot and the joy of leveling up your character to the full 100. Add in the stellar story, music, DLC levels and simple combat progression with new spells and abilities, PSO made for a memorable experience but a game that so many people still play and played in later iterations on the Gamecube, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PC and who knows what else!

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