There's an old adage that good things come to those who wait. Sometimes though, it's bullcrap! Join us as we take a close-up look at two sexy girls.
Konami's sci-fi action thriller, Cool Girl - also known as CY Girls in the U.S - thrusts players into the roles of two crime fighting divas taking on corrupt corporations and an evil syndicate in a technologically charged future.
We'd been anxiously awaiting the arrival of these futuristic crime fighting babes ever since catching a brief glimpse of them at E3 2002, and after checking out a playable CY Girls at last year's E3 show, expectations sort of ran high. Given Konami's great track record, if anyone could pull off an action game of this magnitude it would certainly be them. But alas, there were very few things we found cool about Cool Girl.
Based on Takara's popular Japanese action figures of the same name, Cool Girl is a sci-fi action thriller that puts players in the roles of Aska and Ice, two sexy law enforcers "fighting crime in the future time". Showing off their destructive wares and feminine wilds, the girls come armed with an assortment of weapons and deadly martial arts moves, as well as the ability to dive into virtual worlds to access information and enhance their fighting abilities - similar to the Matrix movies in a way.
Cool Girl's storyline takes place 26 years after the world experienced some type of global electrical failure back on November 11th, 2058. Known as "Damnation Monday", this 24-hour black out period caused the destruction of the world's political and economical structures to become a frightening reality and brought about a great panic throughout the world.
Although lasting one short day, the effects of Damnation Monday had long lasting implications that continued to plague the world many years later. And now, in the midst of a technologically dependant future lies a world knee deep in political and corporate corruption (not much different from modern day Earth I'd say!).
Enter Aska and Ice, two heroines on different sides of the globe who have risen up to the task of righting the wrongs of the world by taking on the evil syndicates and corporate juggernauts whose influences span the globe.
Aska is a ninja on a personal mission to bring her father's killer to justice. At the start of the game, she and her brother Kogetsu are racing towards the estate of the man that murdered their father. Together they plan to infiltrate his highly secured manor house in hopes of collecting enough evidence to bring him to justice.
However that's easier said than done as the manor is filled with lots of enemy ninjas, trap doors, secret entrances, and a somewhat effective security system. But regardless of that, Aska and her brother are determined to bring this villain to justice, no matter the costs.
Ice on the other hand is the weapons specialist of the two, a high-tech chick with a knack for blowing s**t up. Unlike the personal nature of Aska's mission, it's all business for Ice as she's hired to infiltrate Net Justice, a multi-national corporation that manages a huge database containing personal information about people. With its corrupt practices, Net Justice sells this information to be used against people, sinks criminal records, and rewrites the personal histories of those with questionable pasts.
Since even the most competent hackers of the world can't access Net Justice's database from the outside, Ice is sent on a mission to infiltrate the corporate hi-rise and destroy their database of personal files from the inside.
At the game's outset players are able to take control of either Aska or Ice. Cool Girl comes on two discs, with one disc containing Aska's game and the other containing Ice's. While both games can be played independently of each other, both storylines run somewhat parallel to each other and are fleshed out through a variety of CG cutscenes shown throughout the game. However thanks to the game's screwed up save system, don't make the mistake of thinking that you can use the same save slot for both games, otherwise you'll be sorry.
Controlling the girls is easily accomplished although I wish the control scheme was more intuitive and the girls didn't look and feel as if they were sliding all over the place as opposed to actually running. Both girls feature the same basic controls even though their attack methods are totally different. Both are equipped with a variety of main weapons and sub-weapons they'll be able to obtain throughout their journeys.
The game's targeting system provides players with the option of manually aiming at their targets or allow for auto targeting in which the targeting reticle locks onto the nearest enemy. Utilizing a dual analog control scheme, Cool Girl offers independent control of character movements and aiming. For example, there was a point in the game where we were knocked to the ground by an enemy guard and while still lying on the ground, Ice was able to roll over, aim up at her attacker and blow his head off. A very cool move that should be adopted in future action games.
Other moves the girls can perform include basic jumps and even some stealth maneuvers where they can hide and leap out from behind walls in various ways in order to get the upper hand on their enemies.
The gameplay of Cool Girl delivers the good, the bad, and the ugly all in one easily forgettable gaming experience. Playing as either Ice or Aska, players will need to use the special attributes of each girl in order to successfully complete their missions.
The action will take the girls from South America to North America and various other places including the Far East where they will need to venture through a series of levels that take place in both the real and virtual worlds. There are about 8 missions for each girl to complete and with the exception of the first two missions, the girls pretty much experience many of the same levels and enemies later on.
Ice's game starts her off inside of the Net Justice building in Argentina where she's armed with a simple pistol and some type of stun gun. Ice isn't alone however as she's guided by her partner, Sancho Poco, who communicates with her via radio and sometimes provides her with some helpful clues on how to proceed through the high security building. With his help she'll need to search the building, locate and destroy the personal data files.
As a weapons specialist, Ice's game indulges players in lots of gunplay as she navigates through a series of enemy infested halls and rooms where she'll be able to obtain more weapons and other helpful items along the way and engage in shootouts against a collection of enemies armed with clubs and pistols.
Aska's game on the other hand starts her off near a secret entrance to the Japanese mansion. Armed with traditional ninja weapons and a grappling hook she uses to get to hard to reach places as well as snag enemies, this techno ninja will need to make her way in and out of the mansion utilizing a little stealth and her trusty sword to combat the enemies that stand in her way. And just as Ice has Sancho to guide her through her mission, Aska's brother performs the same functions for her and interestingly enough lives just as long!
Utilizing her sword, Aska can perform some deadly combos and acquire a variety of throwing stars/shurikens throughout her missions. While Aska's sword attack moves will trigger some cool-looking finishing move sequences, the problem is that the game just overdoes it. These sequences seem to get triggered almost every time you combat multiple enemies, resulting in the same sequences getting played over and over again which becomes quite redundant, and fast.
While the gameplay probably doesn't sound too bad so far, sadly both games are pretty boring and the enemies never really pose much of a challenge outside of the boss encounters. However, when it comes down to it, the biggest problem with Cool Girl is the amount of backtracking and fetching you have to do in order to solve the game's insane puzzles. Comprised of the worst puzzles I've ever encountered in a game, you'll be hard pressed to want to invest a lot of time in the game due to that major annoyance. The puzzles range from senseless to damn right annoying. It feels as if the majority of the game is spent on constant treks through familiar territory and as a result you'll become quite familiar with every area in the game since you'll find yourself running through them at least half a dozen times, causing Cool Girl's relatively small game world to feel excruciatingly long. It's almost as if the developers purposely didn't want anyone to like this game.
And as if the painful backtracking wasn't bad enough, the experience is further hampered by annoying camera angles - especially during Aska's missions since she moves too fast for the camera to adequately keep up with her. There are two camera options to choose from but none of them really helped much.
Compounding the game's already established set of problems are even more problems that arise whenever you exit and re-enter rooms. Enemies respawn and objects that were once moved in order to access certain areas return to their original positions, forcing you to have to constantly move them back every time you leave and reenter an area.
In spite of the game's many problems, the coolest aspect of Cool Girl is in the ability of the girls to hook up to the access terminals in each level and dive in and out cyberspace to solve puzzles that affect both realms.
Since the girls aren't allowed access to conventional weapons while in cyberspace, the rules of the real world no longer apply and they can perform some gravity defying moves as well as download new moves and skills from data points that appear throughout these virtual worlds.
As the girls make their way through cyberspace they'll battle against various types of security programs activated in order to impede their progress. Enemies will materialize, some of which can be avoided and others that need to be destroyed in order to proceed, allowing players to test out the cyberspace enhanced abilities of the girls.
Unfortunately, even though the cyberspace portions of the game are pretty nifty at first providing alternate universe/VR representations of each of the levels, after a while, like the rest of the game they to lose their appeal and become quite repetitive. A cool idea, but still flawed nonetheless.
Visually, Cool Girl is a solid-looking game that utilizes the MGS2 engine quite well in some areas. While the background graphics aren't much to shout at, it's the little details like reflective surfaces and solid lighting effects that help them stand out a bit.
The cyberspace levels look pretty cool initially and consist of green wire framed graphics that provide them with a visual style even more simplistic than those of Metal Gear Solid VR Missions.
Character designs seem to have fared a little better than the backgrounds with the best of the designs having gone into the construction of the girls. Ice and Aska are very well modeled, and although their animations leave a lot to be desired they do strike some cool poses during play - especially Ice.
While the graphics are a mixed bag, the audio presentation also falls under the same category. There's hardly anything memorable about the soundtrack which is uncharacteristic of Konami since they've always been one of the masters of sound design.
The sound effects on the other hand feature a nice assortment of sharp sounding explosions and weapon discharges among others, although the enemy sounds are pretty lame. The quality of the voice acting varies from character to character as I particularly
Overall, Cool Girl/CY Girls turned out to be a huge disappointment. We wanted to like it, we tried to like it, and since we originally had high hopes for the game we tried to grin and bear it, but there's just no getting over the awful puzzles, tedious backtracking, and annoying camera angles. I guess it's true that every great company has an off day, and Cool Girl happens to be Konami's off-day.
With so many potentially winning elements in its corner such as the Metal Gear Solid 2 engine, a somewhat interesting storyline, sci-fi babes, as well as the cyberspace portions, it just boggles the mind at how badly Cool Girl turned out. Somewhere deep, deep within Cool Girl is a great game crying to get out but is unfortunately trapped underneath piles and piles of useless puzzles. Even without the atrocious puzzles it would still be an awful experience, but on a lesser scale.
Buying or Renting isn't even an option - avoid at all costs.