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CONSOLE: PlayStation 3 DEVELOPER: Omega Force PUBLISHER: Tecmo Koei
RELEASE DATE (NA): February 8, 2011 GENRE: Action-RPG
// review by SoyBomb

Goin' to my O'll Kentucky home...

Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll is actually the fourth (and so far, the final) game in the Zill O'll series, but it's also the only one to be released outside of Japan. Although it sounds like we've missed a significant amount of gaming, we've really only lost out on one game, not three. Zill O'll was the first game of the series, released in 1999 for the original PlayStation. In 2005, it was remade as Zill O'll Infinite for the PlayStation 2... and then THAT was remade for the PSP as Zill O'll Infinite Plus! Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll is the first all-new adventure since the original over a decade earlier.

We are placed in the shoes of Areus, a half-elf, and the grandson of Emperor Balor, a man who seeks immortality and complete control over the continent of Vyashion. The game's prologue tells that Zofor, the land of Dyneskal's Chancellor, has foreseen Balor's death at the hands of his grandson; as a result, Balor orders both his pregnant daughter and his son, Lugh, be killed. He is successful in both murders, but he does not realize that Lugh has fathered children with an elf woman in secret (half-elves being shunned at the time for their "twisted" background), one of whom is Areus. Areus grows up hidden in the forests with his mother and brother, but, having witnessed his own father being slain, vows to someday confront Balor and kill him. Areus trains in Liberdam under the combat tutelage of Master Darqin, honing his skills in the Arena. When he is advised to become an adventurer and take in the world, however, his eyes open to what's really going on around him. Soon joined by adventurers Dagda and Selene, his journey to meet Balor becomes more than a tale of revenge.

Having been developed by Omega Force, the gang behind the successful Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series, you can expect a solid hack'n'slasher on this disc. And you would be correct: the majority of your time is spent slicing and dicing your way through enemies big and small. While there is certainly battle strategy to be had, it isn't quite as robust as a Dynasty Warriors game.

You start out with just Areus, and after spending a bit of time flaunting your swordsman skills in the Liberdam Arena, you're asked to head out and become an adventurer, taking on odd jobs for those in need of someone with fighting pinache. Out he goes into the world, slashing his way through every grunting creature that gets in his way. He soon meets up with Dagda by happenstance and the two become a party together. Selene rounds out the trio in time, and although you may occasionally part ways from time to time, the bond between the three characters seems to be inevitably everlasting.

Each character has their own unique skill set, and depending on the type of enemy you encounter, one particular character could have the upper hand; all of them are useful in their own way at their own time. Defeating enemies earns you SP, which you then spend on improving those skills. As well, as you progress through the game, more skills will be unlocked either via particular plot points or by purchasing magic scrolls that somehow imbue excellence unto you.

Although dozing through dozens of goblins or scorpions is moderately satisfying, it's the larger enemies that elicit the greater spurts of adrenaline. As you fight them, you'll notice a giant circle appear on their body that will change colours quickly. Seeing that circle indicates that it's ready to take more damage; if it turns blue, whip out the big guns because that enemy's become rather weak and will be vulnerable for a while to extra damage. These circles may seem uninteresting, but watching them closely is the absolute key to success against the big'uns. If you whittle the enemy down to a certain amount of health (and you have all three characters), you can perform a trinity attack (whoaaaa, the name of the game!), which will immediately kill it after a fancy brief cutscene, no matter what.

Still, overall, you're just hacking and slashing. Unless you're Dagda, who punches.

So swift. So majestic. So violent. The way of life.

Though it has a central storyline that does flow throughout the game, Trinity will have you spending even more time on quest-based endeavours, and that's where the game tends to tumble. You can keep on picking up new quests at the Adventurer's Guild to earn some extra gold or experience points, but eventually they tend to repeat themselves and offer little variety. Typical quests involve rescuing someone who foolishly wandered somewhere they shouldn't have, slaying a giant beast that inhabits a previously-visited area, or looking for a particular item. And they repeat. And repeat. It may not always be the same item or lost oaf, but these quests do generate infinitely. And they don't get MORE interesting over time or significantly more difficult, as they just amp up as your characters evolve.

It's also a shame you can't walk about in the various towns you visit. Instead of constructing a full-fledged city to traverse and explore, you are limited to, yep, a menu. Want to go to the local tavern? Choose "Tavern". Didn't we advance game console technology so we could increase interactivity in games, rather than simply have crisper menus in HD? Still, Trinity does its best to try and inject charm into the game by throwing more townsfolk into the fray than a New Year's Eve bash at Madison Square.

Another issue I had with Trinity was each character's move set. New moves often come to you when you gain a new soul (whoaaaa, the subtitle of the game!), and they come in bunches. Eventually, you gain more abilities than you can remember, and it comes at a price: you have to literally equip skills. Special punches, kicks, swipes, etc. have to be equipped (and improved with that SP you collect by killing things) to be used. So where exactly are all these other moves that aren't equipped hiding? Oh, looks like Areus can't stab upward because he didn't equip that move. Guess his arm can only be raised up so high before it locks up and needs Tiger Balm.

Trinity's presentation is typically pretty good. Interesting surroundings, decent character models... they're all there. What is odd, however, is that most scenes take place behind this somewhat crusty filter. Some people see the world through rose-tinted glasses; I'm seeing this game through wax paper after microwaving fried chicken on it. Furthermore, seeing certain scenes in HD is painful on the eyes, as you can see every edge of every polygon simultaneously twinkling to create an ugly scene coated in shimmering silver. This could have been refined. No, scratch that: it SHOULD have been refined. On the other end of the spectrum, at least the soundtrack is fitting, filled with tension-inducing or relaxing orchestrated music to perfectly suit the mood. The theme song for Areus' base town, Liberdam, is especially pleasant.

Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll is a captivating game, but its flaws help maintain its status as a good game, rather than a great one. Though charming at the surface, tedium does set in from time to time with slicing and dicing becoming at times a chore more than a thrill. Seeing enemies being consistently recycled and adventurer quests bearing the same goals throughout the game fails to give the player a sense of meaning within this world. Still, if games such as the Dynasty Warriors series or perhaps even the Ys games provide a good source of entertainment to you, Trinity might be a diamond in the rough for slice'n'dice fans.

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