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Most games that take upwards of five years to get released don’t tend to do well in the critics eyes; they tend to have so much still wrong with them that you wonder why they were even considered for release in the first place. Galleon has been in the making for six years, now even for a massively complex title this is excessive, but for a title like this it is extraordinary.
Galleon is the baby of Tomb Raider’s real creator Toby Gard, the “Expert” game designer who seems to be going the way of John Romero if game release dates are anything to go by, but least he hasn’t done as badly as Romero’s effort did, this one does at least have style. Now Galleon had been hyped up as having an excellent control system and a number of revolutionary features, strangely though, this is your average platform fair with some excellent sound and music thrown into it.Using Rhama’s strength and determination, Faith’s mystical knowledge and Mihoko’s martial arts prowess you will be able to perform spectacular moves; back-flip off ledges, land on a pinhead, climb almost any surface and fight like a Kung-Fu master.
Galleon™ features a ground-breaking control system, allowing direct control of the camera, which in turn dictates the movement and actions of the character. You will have to conquer challenges, defeat a myriad of enemies and monsters and try to unlock even more powerful moves.
A richly crafted, immersive story, Galleon™ unfolds through around 30 hours of gameplay action, exploration and challenge - providing a rewarding experience for all skill levels.
Spanning six massive island locations, a beautiful and completely original world, with expansive indoor and outdoor environments, is there to be explored and mastered.
You play Captain Rhama who has been offered a job on an island, the job entails finding out where a strange ship that is carrying some healing herbs has come from. Along the way you will be fighting, jumping, climbing, talking and racing against time. The game starts out quite well, it has a good tutorial that introduces you to the controls quickly and easily, but the control scheme is quite hit and miss, this tends to be due to the camera and the fact that on my TV the game seems too dark in places that you sometimes need to get to, thus a lot of the time you may miss rocks or platforms you need to climb up or get to.
The controls scheme is quite simple in theory; you turn the camera around when whatever direction you face, Rhama will head in that direction. The left thumbstick is used to do both the camera control and the walking movement of Rhama, putting a small amount of pressure on the pad will cause him to walk, while walking stops you from falling off planks and platforms and pushing the pad further forward causing Rhama to run; which is needed when doing long jumps and such.
There X, Y, B and A buttons are used for various things like fighting and picking up objects in the game, while the right trigger button is used for climbing up rock faces or holding onto the back of enemy bosses and holding onto them. When you use the right trigger button the camera switches modes to make it easier to know where you are climbing to, this can be a bit disorientating at first, but once you are used to it, it works quite well.
As I mentioned earlier, Galleon is a platform game, you will be doing lots of climbing and jumping while playing it, I’ve no problem with this at all, except that the level design is not all that great and the supposedly expert control system is not as fluid as it should be after all this time making it. The control system is supposed to know when you approach a ledge that you want to climb up it, but many of the times I have tried it I have ended up just walking into the wall and having to try again.
One part of the game that works very well is object pickup, you use the B button when you get close to an object or item that you want to pick up, such as a health healing mushroom or a mission valuable item such as a key. Pressing B focuses the camera on that item, you can then push forward and Rhama will then pick it up.
Now the platforming side of the game is very well done, I really enjoyed it, the small cutscenes are filled with excellent narrations as you go about your tasks of pulling levers, moving objects around and generally running and jumping about and the pure scale of the game’s levels is excellent, it is however let down by a number of annoyances during gameplay.
Firstly there are the timed sections, now there was no need for these; they just add a heck of a lot of frustration to the proceedings and break up the feeling self congratulation when you have worked through a hard level, most of these timed sections require you to run and jump through a small area before time runs out, the problem here is that a lot of the jumps are hard and can be fiddly, thus you have to start to timed section from the beginning time after time.
Next we have some of the level decisions – now no one in their right mind would design and underwater level that is set in almost complete darkness would they? WOULD THEY!!!! Well Toby and the gang have, and its one of the most annoying levels I’ve come across in a game, at first I wondered if my brightness levels on my TV were set wrong, but no it’s supposed to be dark. It is set underwater and is yet again a timed area, now this wouldn’t have been as bad is as it is if the camera did not make you head in the wrong direction half the time by disorientating you, I haven’t got so frustrated with a level in a game for years.
Finally we have the combat, it doesn’t feel right at all and is so repetitive that even the end of level bosses all get killed in the same method (Climb up the enemies back, stab them, jump off, repeat). I guess your asking what there is to like about the game after all this, well personally I have no idea why, but this frustrating game can actually be a lot of fun 75% of the time, the story is good and you start to care about the characters in it thanks to the excellent voice work.
Graphics & Sound
Now we already know that Galleon is a mere 6 years old, yes its hard to believe that this game is out on a console that hadn’t even been announced when they first started work on the game. There are a lot of things done here that wouldn’t have been heard of back when they first started, perfect voice syncing for a start off, in galleon it even manages to impress me now. The style of the game is a one off, it looks good, yes it lacks all the bump mapping and lighting we’ve seen in games like “The Chronicles of Riddick” over the last few years but it is endearing. The animation stands out too, it’s almost perfect, well it is if you can avoid noticing some rather strange creatures missing frames during fights.
But the stand out for me is the speech, it’s excellent, I can’t praise it enough, they obviously put a lot of time and effort into the sound effects and music and it does show through even after all these years. Excellent work here and it must be noticed by others!
I did enjoy Galleon, I would have enjoyed it far more though if they had missed out (or vastly improved) combat sections. The platforming is exciting, the cutscenes are great, voice work is superb and the graphics, while dated show great style and a massive viewing distance…but the bits that let it down like timed sections, combat and swimming sections are unfortunately what you end up remembering once the game is completed.