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Developer:
Midway San Diego
Publisher: Midway
Platform: PS2, XBox
Release Date: December 12, 2005

by Jason Ferguson




The classic Gauntlet series has been reborn in the form of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows! This entry in the series features a lot of improvements over the rest of the series, such as deeper gameplay, much more impressive graphics, and online play. But do the changes result in a better game? Read on to find out!


The Uricointi Empire was once a mighty kingdom, whose Emperor was aided by four powerful, immortal heroes. These heroes, known best by simple words that befit them, were the Elf, the Warrior, the Wizard, and the Valkyrie. These great heroes were loyal to their Emperor, but little did they know that he was being corrupted by six power-hungry advisors. These advisors craved not only the Emperorís position, but the immortality of the heroes. The Emperor was tricked into betraying his trusted heroes, and bound them to the Great Tree Ritíi, which grew its very roots into the nexus of magical energy at the bottom of the world. Afterwards, the six advisors betrayed the Emperor as well, killing him and taking the throne for themselves. Now as a ghost cursed to roam the world alone, the former Emperor realizes his mistake. He must free the heroes from the Great Tree and undo his first sorrow. Once free, they will be able to destroy the evil advisors, and put closure to the Emperorís remaining six sorrows, freeing the world from the clutches of evil and allowing the Emperor to rest in peace.


At first glance the story seems fairly deep and interesting, however itís not relayed through the game well at all. Most of the info I just gave you can be found in the game manual, or will be explained before the game begins in a brief intro scene. Once the game begins, there really isnít much to the story. No plot twists, character interaction, or even much explanation as to whatís going on. There is a little bit of story given in snippets between each level, which ties together each level, explaining where you are and who youíre about to fight. The story isnít particularly deep and not very interesting, but it ties the game together enough to give you a reason to keep fighting the evil hordes.


If youíve ever played a Gauntlet game, the gameplay will be familiar to you. You start out by choosing one of the four heroes to play as. The game can be played by anywhere from 1-4 players, and you can even take the action online, which is new to the series. The game is fully playable single-player, however, to get the most out of it, the game should really be played with friends. When played alone, the gameplay can quickly get repetitive and dull.


Throughout the game youíll hack 'n' slash your way through hordes of enemies, gaining experience with each kill and taking out the generators to stop the swarm. When you gain enough experience youíll level up, which will award you with a stat point that you can use to increase either your health, attack, or mana regeneration. Along the way, youíll also gather gold, which you can use to purchase new abilities.


Seven Sorrows adds quite a bit more depth to the series with a variety of attacks and abilities. You can perform a hack, which is a powerful shield-breaking attack; a slash, which is a sweeping attack that can hit multiple foes; a projectile, which is a ranged attack; and a launch, which shoots enemies into the air. You can also block, dodge, and perform a powerful mana blast, which uses up your MP to deal great damage to nearby foes as well as defeats Death, who will occasionally pop out of treasure chests to kill you. Aside from these basic moves, each character can perform a variety of unique combos using different button combinations. Each character also has four unique special moves, such as the Warrior's Vortex ability, which is an axe maneuver that pulls in and stuns nearby enemies. These moves are powerful and can have a variety of effects, but they are used at the expense of MP. This all adds a lot more depth to Seven Sorrows than what was seen in previous games in the series, and helps to break up some of the hack 'n' slash monotony. Itís still not horribly deep, but it should be enough to please most RPG fans while keeping the gameplay simple enough to appeal to the casual gamer. If you're a fan of the genre who yearns for a break from the complexity of most RPGs, then Gauntlet might have just the right level of depth for you.


Throughout the game youíll also pick up armor and weapons upgrades that will not only increase the strength of your weapons and armor, but will also change their appearance. This isnít nearly as interesting as in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, where you changed character class in addition to changing appearance, and you gained a familiar, which also changed in appearance. But, I guess itís better than nothing!


The game features multiple difficulty settings, ranging from Beginning to Impossible. In Beginning mode, you and your teammates have infinite lives. In the Impossible mode, though, you only have two lives, making it extremely challenging. If youíre brave enough to try your hand at the Impossible mode, youíre probably best off to play through some of the easier modes first in order to power your character up. Unfortunately, the game length is extremely short and can easily be conquered in a weekend or a lengthy day-long sitting. It does feature a little bit of replay value if you decide to try and tackle some of the higher modes of difficulty, play as a different character, or level your character up to the fullest. Still, I managed to gain access to all the abilities in a single play through, so youíll probably get everything there really is to get out of the game by beating it once. Itís a major step forward as far as graphics and gameplay depth over Dark Legacy, but it doesnít feature a fraction of the replay value or nearly as much game length.


The gameís music is actually pretty good, however itís subtle enough that you arenít going to notice it a lot among all the chaos. Still, the music suits the game nicely, and if you take the time to listen to it, youíll be pleased. The voice acting is all of pretty good quality, although the narrator can get annoying pretty quickly because you'll have to listen to him freak out every time someone starts to get low on health.


Graphically, the game is a major improvement over previous games in the series. The environments are beautiful and feature a large amount of variety, allowing you to notice the high amount of detail. The spell effects look great, from blasts of fire to the summoning of Death as he appears to drain your life. The characters are also well detailed and designed, although perhaps a bit clichť, and they even move with a fair amount of realism. Unfortunately, the camera can cause quite a few problems if you choose to play multiplayer. Players will often get stuck on objects, and youíll have to backtrack to free them. Most annoying of all is when a character gets pinned in the corner of the screen by enemies and is unable to move. There will also be plenty of times where you canít see the oncoming swarms of enemies due to the focus of the camera and theyíll seem to come out of nowhere.


Overall, Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows is an action-packed, enjoyable adventure that makes some major improvements on the classic Gauntlet gameplay. Itís not particularly long, though, the camera is as annoying as ever, and hardcore RPG fans may find it far too light on the RPG elements for their taste. Still, with all things considered, this is great multiplayer fun for those who aren't looking for something horribly deep.


Final Grade: 75%




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