Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Sunday, 05 June 2005
Daikatana is one of those games everyone knows about but never played. For starters it’s one of the most criticised productions ever and also one of the most hyped games ever to be released.


After three years of development Daikatana finally hit the market in 2000. Gamers had waited and the press made interviews with John Romero on a regular basis and Romero praised the game in every interview as any other developer.

Many people in the industry wanted Romero to fail just to see one of the masterminds of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Hexen go down. Yes there is jealousy in the gaming industry as well.

When you start playing the game you don’t know much about the background story. There are cut scenes but they don’t describe the background that well. However the game is designed so that you find out during the play of the game.

The game is set in a 2455 Japan were a corrupt scientist has stolen an enigmatic large sword. Daikatana actually means large sword in Japanese. The player is Hiro who have learned from his martial arts instructor that he has to help the world from the evil scientist.

Daikatana is built around the Quake 2 engine, and yes the graphics were already outdated when it was released. But if you put it in perspective the graphics doesn’t matter much almost five years after the game hit the market. The game isn’t ugly, and that’s what counts.

Playing the game isn’t exactly a breeze; Romero claimed that the game was developed for seasoned first person shooter gamers. I’m the target market in that case and I can’t say that I’m impressed with the game play. Sure there are definitely a lot of thinking that you have to do, but the problems you encounter are sometimes hard to solve because of collision detection problems or general bugs.

However I do appreciate the attempt of making a product for more experienced gamers and yes first person shooters of today are way to easy. However it isn’t fun to nearly solve an obstacle and then be limited because of a level designer didn’t do his or her job correct. Also sometimes the solutions are so incredible that you couldn’t have imagined it from the very beginning.

Also the fact that you only can save a couple of time on each level causes your nerves to wreck havoc. You constantly have to everything over and over again so it’s easy to grow tired of the game.

The enemies in Daikatana deserve some praise. They aren’t perhaps that original but they do behave like enemies would. For example if you fire a lot at some of them they actually fall back and tries to regroup, very nice indeed.

There is one obstacle though, when the enemies’ attacks you don’t notice it instantly. It’s something wrong with the audio because the enemy sounds are way to low, if you aren’t watching the health meter all the time you actually loose health because you don’t know that you are under attack.

Daikatana is a mediocre game, it has some interesting features but they are so small that they disappear behind the very frustrating game play. However the game has some historical value, and if you already tried all first person shooters worth trying you might give Daikatana a go.

The game made ION Storm, John Romero’s company go bankrupt, Romero is currently developing handheld games in a company called Monkeystone Games.

What other developers can learn from the sad Daikatana story is that no matter how much PR you get for your product before release you have to be able to live up to the expectations, if you don’t PR tend to work against you.

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Developer: ION Storm
Website for game: N/A
Related Websites: http://www.planetdaikatana.com/, http://www.johnromero.com/
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
O/S: Win 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Cost of Full Game: N/A
Year of Release: 2000

Pentium 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 3D Graphics Card
Tested on:
Pentium III Mobile 850 MHz, 384 MB RAM, Windows XP


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