Sunday, October 26, 2014

AC3E: JP x PAL x US

Here is a quick rundown of the different releases AC3E got.



JP: 5.27.1999

This is the original version we all know and love. With two discs, 52 missions, 12 characters and 5 endings, this is one that is sure to keep you busy for a weekend or two and then some!

PAL: 3.2000

The first Wester release. It's PAL, so right off the bat it's got some major things going against, such as slower gameplay, worse graphics due to conversio nfrom NTSC and at least one major audio glitch  when shooting down enemy airplanes.

Since this is an European release, the game was translated into more languages. And it's one of the worst and laziest localizations job I've ever seen, and I'm not even talking about the removal of the original story and characters! Clearly translated by a Japanese person without any input from a native speaker, sentences are so awkwardly written they barely make any sense.

Planes fly much faster, shooting range is severely diminshed and missions are reduced to a linear 36 missions.

US: 6.2.2000

This is a proper NTSC release but still far from that Japan got. Conversion issues may not be present but this is still the same hack-job, the major difference being that the English translation got a major polish. Briefings, which is all that's left after cutting so much of the story, are at least properly written this time around, and a sorta-kinda semblance of a story is in evidence.

It's still about a major conflict between the two mega-corporations like in the original game but events and missions from all 5 paths are mixed to create the 36 mission version, just like in the european abortion. It tries hard to follow the original outline of the story but without any characters or emotion to drive the story forward, it all feels pointless. Even the story intermissions feel rushed, as you can't stop to read them or replay them like you can in the original game.The story doesn't even make sense in the end anyway. If the JP release felt akin a TV series, then this doesn't even qualify as a compilation.

Gameplay-wise it's got all the bad traits from the european release, but at least the audio problems were fixed. Yaay... It also offers a fix or two compared to the Jp release. Mission 29 has the correct BGM but other than that changes feel perfunctory, such as some slightly redesigned menus (which further remove original elements) or BULLS EYE -> BULL'S-EYE.

Even compared to AC2, a simpler kind of game (but refined to perfection), the western versions of AC3 feel emptier. The same wonderfully futuristic designs and music are still there, but without an emotional core, it all adds up to nothing. May be fun for a lazy Sunday afternoon but just like the missiles you shoot in the game, it's fire and forget.