Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 77% (based on 36 ratings)
Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 1 reviews)
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (henceforth EDDF for short) is beautiful, that is the first thing that really strikes me. The music, graphics, and the presentation in general is wonderfully executed. The undersea world of EDDF is still (2006) the most stunning unnatural natural environment I have come across in a game. Sure, the view distance is a little limited, but that's to be expected from a seven year old console. Still this game looks and sounds better than the PS2 version, something which is not uncommon for early DC and PS2 games, when compared. The environments ("level design" does not feel like quite the right word here) are very well designed and it feels at once real and unreal. The great confined spaces (the "levels" where you have no surface access; underground caves etc) feels very claustrophobic and oppressive, like I find them in real life. The whole feeling this game gives me is a feeling of serenity, a feeling of "zen" if you will. It's very meditative without becoming a slide show (hello Myst).
Well, the controls are not very good. Of course I understand it's hard to figure out a control scheme for a dolphin, but actually I think it's the Dreamcast's fault, mostly because the control stick is so sloppy and the triggers are placed the way they are. Ecco just swims into walls and enemies too often, and turns too fast sometimes. This causes much grief later in the game when speed and navigation is of utmost importance, and Ecco just seems to get stuck in walls and swim the wrong direction. Especially in the "claustrophobic" environments (see above paragraph) this becomes a problem since one generally has little time to stop and think. The labyrinthine undersea worlds are dangerous and require excellent reactions.
The Bottom Line
Beauty and the beast. It gets real difficult later in the game, mostly because of inferior controls, but also because of infernal level design. While I like the more "hardcore" approach to saving and loading, sometimes I found it hard to take the time to play the game, since you're not permitted to save mid-level, but must clear one environment to go on to the next, whereupon the game is automagically (yes, magically) saved. It makes for a harder game, but also a more immersive experience, since you're forced to take your time and not just play for a couple of minutes, save and then come back for more later on. One environment easily becomes two, then three, when you are immersed in the experience of EDDF. Just don't forget that you have a sonar. Use it to map out your surroundings. Remember this.
Dreamcast · by optrirominiluikus (70) · 2006