When I first saw Berserk on the Dreamcast I became intensely interested in the game. The pure fact of a gothic mercenary swinging around an insanely huge sword swiping people down like they were flies attracted me and many others to the game. Based on a popular Anime which I've never seen or heard of, Berserk is your classical hero versus evil tale. However, from what I've seen in Berserk for Dreamcast, it does this story formula extremely well.
The creator of the Anime and Ascii teamed up to produce a cinematically stimulating while bubbling with action experience for those who can take the sight of lots of blood. And this game has A LOT of blood; this game isn't for the light hearted, the sexist, or for the "must be" politically correct people. This game is completely sexist but sensitive at that, and it's surely politically incorrect for being a fantasy game. When you really boil down to it though, it's just an platform action beat 'em up much like a Final Fight fashion.
You take control of a mercenary named Gatsu (translated Guts) through the final conflict of the story based off the Anime. Although the ending it may be, you can still enjoy every ounce of the game even if you haven't watched the Anime. He has a big sword (given) and several weapons at his disposal. He has the "must have" medicinal potions to restore his life, ninja throwing knives, grenades, an explosive arm cannon, and a funny arm arrow launcher that's operated by a rotating lever. He can put away his sword (where? on his back but how it hangs onto his back is the question) and use his fists to beat up the baddies ala Double Dragon. This is a numero uno idea for tight corners and small spaces, because swinging your sword around in a small room will have it bouncing and deflecting off walls more than being stained with blood. A fairly nice effect, but can be overcomed by performing special and jumping attacks; your sword just goes right through the walls instead. Also, Gatsu has a "berserk" mode which he enters every time a red bar (under his life bar) fills up; pretty obvious since the game is called Berserk. This mode allows Gatsu more speed, more power, less chance of being stunned, and the ability to override wall deflection. Interesting thing is that everytime he gets hit, his berserk bar will decrease instead of his life. However, this berserk bar will slowly deplete without doing anything so it's best to just go nuts; hence "berserk".
I won't reveal too much about the storyline, but then it involves a virus which mutates organisms into plant-like zombies. Gatsu and troop end up fighting the mayor who is conducting operations to harness this virus and use it for his own purposes. The two hours worth of realtime rendered cinematics express the storyline and characters very well and give pretty good insight on each personality; though it leaves very little development for dynamics of character personality. I believe that was left back in the Anime. The character animation during the cinematics I have to say need extreme help; much of it looks like something from Mr. Roboto because everything was manually animated instead of motion captured. Though this can be disregarded as most of the time you'll be concentrating on the story or the plain beauty of the character models and textures. The facial animations are done quite well, but are a bit rigid sometimes; still stunning as this is one of the few games which have realtime rendered lip movement. During combat though, the robotic movements are bareable and remind the player that the game is JUST a game so it doesn't pull towards being realistic. The pyrotechnics are done well as you'll notice Gatsu's sword blur as he swings it, or the explosive sparks of his arm cannon. There's a lot of good murky lighting and depth to each of the scenes that you fight in. But one thing I must complain about is the camera angles. Although the camera angles are placed so that it gives the game more drama, it sometimes inhibits the player's sight and can result with the screen just being the butt of an enemy or some foreground object.
All in all, Berserk is definitely a game for those who are looking for a quick action fix, or are fans of the actual Anime. However, Berserk can be enjoyed by all and has some replay value in it due to the extras which are unlocked by beating the game. I can say finally, that I will be going back to this game in the next little while, and will be checking out the Anime as soon as possible.