Murakumo: Renegade Mech Pursuitby Chris Groves
February 3, 2003
The game takes place in Oliver Port, a specially designed city meant to be a manmade utopia. As Oliver Port prospers, word gets out that one of Lugnal's key innovations, the Artificial Reflective Kineticoids (ARK), have gone haywire, causing pandemonium in various parts of the world. To combat the malfunctioning ARKs, a group of elite pilots is assembled, collectively known as "Murakumo."
Each pilot controls a different ARK, each one suited to a different purpose. Cloud One flies a versatile, all-purpose ARK. Cloud Two has the advantage of very high mobility at the expense of defensive capabilities and firepower. Cloud Three lumbers along in an ARK loaded with devastating weaponry. The armor on Cloud Four's ARK is hard to penetrate, but it's a slow vehicle with less than stellar firepower. And finally, Cloud Five's ARK is made specially for close combat situations, with massive blades on each arm.
Unlike other mech series, Murakumo is set to be a very arcade-like experience. That means we're looking at twitchier gameplay, no parts customization, just fast-paced action. Anyone will notice immediately the amazing sense of speed. Although the game does seem to have its share of shooter tendencies, Murakumo is for the most part a race against time as you speed your way through urban jungles and other environments trying to catch up with and destroy a certain target. Waves of stepping stones in the form of enemy ARKs will be dropped in your path en route to the target, and it'll be up to you to clear them out of the way.
Snazzy looking vehicles and blazing velocity aside, Murakumo doesn't exactly stand out as one of the better looking Xbox games. There's a distinct lack of detail in the environments, and the texturing is subpar compared to what we're used to seeing from the Xbox. But when this much speed is involved, the absence of picturesque scenery is probably forgivable.
It can be easier to be the prey rather than the pursuer. The latter has no idea where the object of the hunt is going and you need to make split-second decisions to keep up. It takes a fine hand to juggle the booster/brake controls, adjust altitude, dodge structures and blast away at your foe. The control elements of this game are very simple to use, and players will be deep in the heart of battle within minutes of launching the title.
Key features include: four game modes broken into trial mode (10 bosses and a score which you can beat) scenario (storyline-driven game play), free mission (replay completed mission) and expert (10 new challenges); 20 intense missions, and a host of Murakumo weaponry such as plasma swords, beam rifles and sniper cannons.
As far as lesser-known Xbox games go, Murakumo isn't too likely to make much of a splash, but don't let it drop off your radar just yet. We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for further announcements regarding this sound barrier-busting 'mech title as they come.