One is an N-Gage exclusive series of 3D Jeet Kune Do fighting games, featuring motion captured moves from real-life martial arts champion Tommy Carruthers. One for the next gen N-Gage platform was previously known as "One: Who's Next" as it's the sequel to the original gen game of the same name.
- Digital Legends One v1.25.4 N-GAGE SymbianOS9.1 *****ed-BiNPDA
Call a game 'One' and you're going to get lazy jokes in any review about the Highlander films. That goes double if your game is all about finding the one greatest fighter in the world. So I'm sure Nokia's marketing department knew what they were getting in for as they prepared to pitch this game.
There is one subtle difference from the Highlander films though, and it is this. The second 'One' (for the new N-Gage platform phones) is actually better than the first 'One' (for the original N-Gage). While the debate over Highlander II: The Quickening will rage for years, the improvements made by Digital Legends in the 3-d Fighting game for the N-Gage platform is all up on the screen, and kills the opposition stone dead.
And that takes some doing, because the original N-Gage 'One' was close to being one of the best fighting beat-em-ups on a mobile platform... ever. Looking back on that review (where it scored an impressive 83), there's a lot of things said then that are true now. The main one that caught my eye is in the opening paragraph. Then, One was being heralded as the saviour of the N-Gage, and to a certain extent it was, being in a wave of first party titles that proved the N-Gage concept.
Now, it's not so vital, as the Next Gen N-Gage platform is a little bit more varied, and has critically lauded titles, mainstream titles, and third party developers lining up to do a second wave of releases and development. So One is not as pivotal this time around, but it's certainly a title that those following the N-Gage been waiting over. Delayed countless times, now it's final here, is it worth the wait?
The first thing that hits you are the graphics. There's been a lot of heated discussion, to put it mildly, on whether N-Gage can 'work' without using a 3D Chip, and One is going to make the two camps further apart. Some will point to One and say, well how much better-looking than that do you want a mobile game to be? Others will talk about the cost in CPU time, and that it could look 'even better' if a separate chip was doing all the triangle drawing.
I'll leave you all to continue to re-iterate in the comments the same positions you've each taken in every mention of graphics on the N-Gage, and leave the majority of readers with this fact: right now, it doesn't matter. One's graphics are smooth, clear and understandable even without graphics hardware. There's little smudging or hiding of limbs or body positions - and that's very important in a fighting game, especially one that is built around 'realistic' fighting.
While we're talking about game characters that have strength, agility and speed in various combinations, we're not talking about supermen. The big give-away is when they jump. There's no Chun-Li Streetfighter-like helicoptering around the screen option. From your standing start, you can get up to about shoulder height with the most agile fighter, which is more than enough to land a strong kick into the chest area with a lot of power.
And this realism in the fighting, combined with the clear graphics, makes One a strategic delight to play. The impression of fighting games by many is that you have to hit lots of buttons (mash them) and stuff happens. It's more subtle than that. You're watching for your opponent to leave a part of their body exposed while they attempt to strike you or move around - spot that, attack it, while defending the rest of you, and you get a hit on them. Which drops their energy. Keep doing this more often than your opponent and you'll win.
To help you, there are a variety of moves you can make, either by key combinations (i.e. the classic hold down and kick together to sweep your leg along the floor and upend the unwary opponent), which give you all the regular fighting moves; or by chaining button presses for special moves - thankfully you don't need to memorise massive numbers of multiple button combinations to pull these off, as you did in the classic version.
And now here comes the one area where the original One has the advantage over the 2.0 version. The N-Gage classic and QD had gaming optimised control pads, with all the vital phone controls out of the way. Not only that, but the d-pad and raised buttons made pulling off the combo moves relatively easy. Now, with N-Gage being on a regular phone keypad, it suffers. Not by a huge amount, mind you, but just enough to stop the controls flowing in your mind. You are always conscious of where your thumbs are and what you want to press. The good games can get to a point where this is instinctive, and while One is close to that point, there are just a few too many times where the adrenaline is flowing, and you get a menu popping up by mistake, or you're taken to the N-Gage menu screen.
Does this stop it being fun? Only by a tiny margin, beat-em-up fans are going to love One. Not only do you have a strong single player fighting experience with opponents that have respectable levels of AI, but you've got a number of other single player modes that will help you get the most out of your game. Survival simply throws opponent after opponent at you until you drop to the ground, and will be suited to the more experienced player.
Training is the most interesting one, because it acts like your online manual, teaching you all the moves and combinations (mostly two or three key presses at most) that you'll need. There is one big problem with this... it's only available if you buy the game! People downloading the demo are left to muddle along, stumbling over moves and key presses. If they're not au fait with the Beat em up style, or aren't the sort of people who just experiment, then they could easily put One to one side as being too complicated or hard to get into. I think this choice is a mistake on Nokia's part, and training should have been added alongside the regular 'straight versus fight' the demo already has.
Fianlly, most people will do most of their 'One' adventure in the story mode - this takes your character around the world, introducing first the idea of an underground 'winner takes all' competition to find the 'one' best fighter, but also gives you steadily more impressive AI opponents to fight, and unlockable clothes and items to customise your fighter on screen. As you go along, this also brings up your score, and rather like ELO chess rankings, you'll get more points for defeating a better fighter than you, and less points if you're expected to win. This means that just because you have a ninja fighter in the later stages, it's not so easy to amass the points you need by grinding out fights on lower opponents - and you'll need those points as they are the online 'currency' of One.
Setting yourself up for online play is easy - just let the Arena know your location, and your fighter data is uploaded to the service. Going online after that will upload the score of your fighter, and allow this to be compared to others for the global ranking.
There's no online fighting (more's the pity), this is only available over Bluetooth with local opponents. I'm guessing there are latency issues trying to fight online, but the ability to compare yourself with anyone else in a realistic way is a great addition, and of course means there will always be someone at the top of the table as the best of the best for people to aim for. And that one person is going to have to work hard to stay there. It's well suited to mobile gaming, implemented well, and is sure to add to the longevity of a game built around 90 second fights.
Right then, time for the bit that many will not like to hear. This game is a technical marvel, and it's surprisingly effective when compared to other modern beat em ups, especially those on other mobile platforms. It's also definitely an improvement on the original in many respects.
But it's going to miss out on our rare Mega-game award by the smallest of margins. The fighting genre is one that does not have mass appeal, and there's little in the way of introduction for the casual gamer to allow them to be immersed into the game world in the way that, say, Reset Generation has managed. Is there a good reason why 'training mode' is not available in the demo? I'm still not convinced that generic phone keypads are suited for any game which looks and acts like a console game - and make no bones about it, One is console quality - but a console where you have to use a TV remote control rather than a dedicated gaming controller.
The fact that the rest of the gameplay lifts 'One' so high is a testament to what you can do on the platform, and it's one of the main reasons that the score is so high. 'One' walks away with a highly respectable 89, and the lingering thought of what this would be like on a device designed 100% for gaming, as opposed to the converged nature that is N-Gage on the modern smartphone.
AAN Score: 89%
Thanks to Ewan Spence for Review.
Extracted .ngage file (Transfer file to E:/n-gage and open Ngage application for installation)
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