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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 18:49 GMT
Manga action for the PC
Game features intense martial arts action
By BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida

If you ever wanted to play the hero in a manga comic or in a Japanese animation cartoon, then Oni is the game for you.

In Oni you play an agent called Konoko, who embarks on a quest to find out her past, as well as saving a world where crime is rampant.

Oni: Japanese word for ghost or demon
This latest offering from Bungie, best known for the role-playing strategy game Myth, is a third-person 3D action adventure that blends successfully hand-to-hand fighting and gun play.

After three years in development and two years of hype, Oni has been a huge success, winning critical plaudits and storming the game charts.

It draws on a rich background of anime-inspired science fiction to create a world of fluid action scenes.

Armed with martial arts skills, fast reflexes and an arsenal of weapons, you have to fight your way through 17 levels of gaming.

Frustrating moves

But Oni is not without its problems. The controls can be tricky to master at first and the combination of buttons required to produce some of the more spectacular moves can be hard to remember.

Physically exhausting combat
To help, Bungie, now owned by Microsoft, have included a training level.

To add to the frustration, there is also no in-game save feature. Instead you have to reach save points which are few and far between.

Sometimes you end up having to play through levels over and over again. The sterile and stark environments add to the atmosphere at first, but can become tedious.

The gaming pattern can be repetitive - fight enemies, unlock a door, fight some more enemies, unlock another door and so on. Added to this is the lack of multiplayer facilities or an online gaming feature.

Finger numbing

But when you are faced with fast and impressive AI enemy characters, the action is intense. The martial arts fighting is finger numbing, adrenalin pumping and physically exhausting.

Throughout the game, you are on the edge. Carrying only one weapon at a time and with limited ammo, wit and stealth are prized assets.

Though far from perfect, Oni is a worthy action adventure hybrid.

It delivers a challenging and exhilarating game that is guaranteed to get the pulse racing.

Oni is available for the Mac, PC and PS2

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