Title :Ehrgeiz
Platforms :Sony PlayStation
Publisher :Square Electronic Arts L.L.C.
Game Rating :8.1
Review by :Ken Gagne

Long ago, a best-of-the-best fighting tournament was held. To the victor went the otherworldly weapon Ehrgeiz. Today, Ehrgeiz is discovered to be the key to a door in an ancient ruins, behind which may lie the secret of immortality. In the pursuit of never-ending life, there will be much bloodshed, in Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, a PlayStation fighting game from SquareSoft. 

Ehrgeiz is a 3D free-roaming fighting game. Two opponents battle it out in a variety of multi-level arenas in which they may move about freely. Each stage is small and does not have its own inherent pitfalls and dangers, rightly keeping the focus on fighting. 

Control is divided into high, middle, low, and special attacks, with guard and jump nearby. Special moves are combinations of these buttons, with the directional buttons rarely coming into any complex play. This keeps the gameplay fast, simple, and easy to learn, but also shallow. Tekken players may not find Ehrgeiz suited to their tastes. 

Fighter strength is not well balanced. Cloud Strife, one of the five characters from Final Fantasy VII to appear in Ehrgeiz, has punishing moves simple to execute. After a moment's practice and some button mashing, even a first-time player will be able to zip through the one-player mode. 

The graphics are the best of any free-roaming fighter. As characters jump, run, climb, and attack, their animations are extremely fluid. The minor amount of zooming is smooth, and pixelation never occurs. At sixty frames per second, the graphics keep up with the action effortlessly. And, now a standard for Square, the opening and closing full motion video sequences are gorgeous. 

The music is eclectic and enjoyable, with a variety of rock styles prevalent. Sound effects are noticeable but not memorable. 

Ehrgeiz is a fair but shallow fighter. Were that all the disc offered, it wouldn't last five minutes on anyone's front burner. 

But many mini-games and side quests greatly extend the replay value. The mini-games include a battle version of the classic board strategy game Othello; track and field; a foot race; and an endurance battle. 

Quest Mode is a classic dungeon crawl, complete with monsters, traps, armor and equipment, spells, and more. Battles happen in real-time as in Secret of Mana. Stock up in your base camp and see how deeply you can delve before forced to retreat — if you can! 

With an excellent dungeon mode for one player, fighting mode for two, and mini-games for both, Ehrgeiz has a lot to offer. None of it is too taxing or complex; the variety and simplicity is as much a strength as a weakness — a worthy trade-off.

This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 24-May-99