Perhaps the game’s best feature is the ability to string different weapons together for combo attacks. Josh can begin clubbing two thugs at once with a glowing blue staff, then quickly switch to a lightsaber-esque orange sword for a dramatic uppercut finish. (Don’t bother questioning where these huge weapons are being stored.) Enemies, the majority of which are corporate thugs brandishing swords, stun batons, and the occasional pistol, tend to attack in bunches and typically follow the same basic patterns. Yet it’s hard not to get pumped up when the bullets start firing in slow motion (complete with streaks of light), the techno music starts thumping, and you’re performing roundhouse kicks on a poor sap’s skull.
Yet these moments of excitement are tempered with ordinary, almost empty environments filled with fog, basic textures, and almost no interactivity. You can’t pick up objects and throw them around, for instance, or do much of anything but activate a switch here and there or perform a somewhat complex jumping maneuver to reach higher areas, such as a pipe, ladder, platform, or fence. It’s here where the game stands out from traditional titles in the genre, but control issues often make these moves more frustrating than fun.
While Josh can jump on his own, to reach higher areas he’ll need to switch to the pole weapon. This weapon features a downward thrusting move that propels Josh high into the air, ready to grab onto a ledge. Now your fingers instinctively want to hit another button to somersault or grab onto the platform, but that would be too easy. The tricky part is players have to switch to Josh’s bare hands while in midair (by pressing the L1 or R1 button, to scroll weapons), then hit a separate button to grab onto the ledge. So it’s a three-button combo that must be implemented within seconds. You’ll repeatedly mess up while trying to remember which button is the grab, and pressing the wrong one results in a very unhelpful back flip. It gets better over time and with practice, but it’s a needlessly complex addition.
Fortunately, combat fares better with the simple act of switching weapons (again using the R1 and L1 buttons), and it is generally the fast and fluid experience it should be. A great feature is the ability to build up the number of hits each weapon can register on an opponent over time, encouraging you to mix up your attacks rather than rely on the same one over and over again. Since each weapon gains experience points the more you use it, you’ll want to distribute your attacks as evenly as possible. The other two aspects of combat are the button timer sequences (popularized in games like Die Hard Arcade and Shenmue) and legacy drive attacks, but both are gimmicky additions that slow the pacing down rather than intensify the action.
Yet the biggest knock on the game is the stubbornly rigid camera system that actually requires players to continuously hold down the R2 button to keep the view focused just behind the character. If it weren’t for a lock-on system, the combat scenes would be extremely problematic, but players still end up fighting the camera as often as they fight enemies. EOE is certainly worth a look to experience the combat system and exquisitely bizarre storyline, but there are just too many flaws in too many key areas to warrant a purchase.
Simple textures, outdoor fogging, and similar-looking enemies fail to impress.
The constant female companion is nice touch, even if she is just a voice and has a tendency to point out the obvious.
The combat is interesting, with a variety of quick and fluid moves, but the environments are bland and the jumping sequences are annoying.
Players can collect data modules from fallen enemies to learn more about the characters, but there’s not much else encouraging replay value.
The black-and-white manual explains the controls in detail and offers screen shots to highlight certain elements.