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Gaming The New and Upcoming PS2 RPGs of 2004


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[color=teal]For the remaining half of 2004, fourteen brand new RPGs have been promised and set to be released within the vicinity of the time period. All vary amongst different publishers/developers and formats, but whether it will be a sequel or something fresh, the bulk of them look quite promising.

Quite a few of them have already been called upon or reviewed by other members, and I've most likely posted in their threads, heh, so I'll just reveal what's been left unmentioned along with my own two cents while I'm at it.

[b]Growlanser Generations:[/b] Looks solid. The fact that I've never played anything like this before makes me feel a bit more wary about it, so criticisms will lead to a lot under the influence of first impressions, but I hope I'll be able to mask that since Career Soft have been pretty persistent with their line of RPGs that tend to be quite tasteful. Probably not the best on the list, but might be worth checking out if you need a hint.

[b]Mega Man X: Command Mission:[/b] I've held a personal vendetta against Capcom ever since they decided to port the Mega Man series to a 3D platform, because explorable environments don't suit this genre at all. It was the simple and basic requirements and ornaments involved with platformers that made them so great, now they're just ruined or at least not as good as before. But, Mega Man X: Command Mission may do well as an RPG for that matter, I mean, the game has a considerable amount of characters with unique abilities that could provide a nice little stepping stone as far personality and compilation goes. The character designs look blocky, and somewhat childish, but I guess it does blend well with the structure of the cel-shaded backgrounds. Obviously, it won't set standards or anything like that, but if it's anything like the Mega Man RPGs for the PSX then I urge that you stay away.

[b]Phantom Brave:[/b] This is Nippon Ichi's newest piece. It resembles a little to that of FF Tactics visually, and the dynamics it pursues, like battle grid, turn based etc, are old news, and the character sprites are pretty poor, almost 2D, but I believe that's completely irrelevant in terms of gameplay and longevity, which I might add, are supposedly next level. The enemy and character AI has been turned up a notch, so you can expect a much more challenging type of battle system, and if you know anything about Nippon Ichi's products, then you'll be aware of the quality it possesses in this category. I'll probably buy it, and will definitely play it, though it looks like something that can easily be transferred over to any hand held system... PSP maybe?

[b]Star Ocean: Till the End of Time:[/b] Square-Enix's response to the Phantasy Star series, Star Ocean is a pretty wild action/adventure RPG that should be available around some time in August. It'll be interesting to see how Square-Enix approaches this, as they can't be accused of producing a PSO spin-off--that'd be a waste. There were a few previous editions of the game, including a Director's Cut to be released in the US that includes new side-stories, costumes, enemies and much more. Compared to PSO, I think that Star Ocean is so much more battle-intensified; you march with a set of characters, which means more enemies, and a different array of skills and abilities at your disposal. I prefer to see it as a small sample as what the game were to be like should it hold online capabilities. A strong RPG none the less, guaranteed satisfaction.

[b]Shadow Hearts: Covenant:[/b] The sequel or follow-up to the much adored Shadow Hearts just got better. A hell of a lot of new improvements and additions has been made since the release of SH, and the chemistry on the character designs look astonishing. Not only will they look great though, a lot of them, and new ones, have been upgraded with new and more specific backgrounds and goals that will align in conjunction to the overall plot-hole of the game itself. Probably not worth all the fuss and hype that it lives to be, but may be worth a test-drive before any purchase's made.

[b]The Bard's Tale:[/b] While running on a Baldur's gate engine, The Bard's Tale looks a lot more than the average action RPG. It's a lot less serious than any other, I'll tell you that, it [i]will[/i] be notoriously evil amongst RPG fans amidst its release for the lack of seriousness and humour it revolve will around. It makes a change to see a game that aspires purely on dialogue and context though, even if I think it will have no affect on its final result, it will be nice to get the opportunity to witness this sort of approach.

[b]X-Men Legends:[/b] Another action RPG, and despite its name, it looks to be good, but I fear Raven will just fall back on the success of other Marvel merchandise
just to promote and encourage fans to increase sales. It's a squad based game that works around the same basis of Square's The Bouncer, and referring to the X-Men name and origins, it gives Raven a much more broad idea of what sort of capabilities to add, such as special powers, fighting system, and storyline.

[b]Shin Meagami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga:[/b] Not much to say that differs from Nocturne, but you do get to control a demon, heh. Pretty bad idea to release both games with such a little boundary in between since there's always the short-change issue leaving you clueless on which to buy. DDS is nicely stylised but reflects nocturne in such a similar way... your best bet is to buy one or the other, but not both.

[b]Suikoden IV:[/b] By slightly emphasising on the basics of its predecessor, the Suikoden series and Konami hope to maintain its current glory in those aspects, which is a good thing, but that doesn't mean that there won't be anything new to add to the dynamics. Konami have opted to introduce a new naval-battle system and want to focus mainly on the sequences of it, and so, they've decided to scrap the Trinity Sight System. I have no idea as to how they'll try and pull it off, and choosing to upgrade graphical content over gameplay is the biggest flaw of most developers today, unless its entirely for the better of course, but I don't see this working out so far.

It?s a pretty huge line up, particularly that there will be a lot of heat regarding competition, but there are only a few titles there that will actually rise above the rest in standards. Anyway, any more additional information would be nice, so if you would contribute then maybe I?d have a better idea of what to expect, which brings me to my final point:

Which games are you most anticipating and will be most likely buying?[/color]
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Eh, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time isn't really a Phantasy Star Online spin-off, it's just the third in the series. As for Square Enix's approach to this? Well Squaresoft individually will not be involved, even though the two companies have merged together, they're going to work seperately in some way or another. Enix just want to continue their successful series, I anticipate it. Though, bearing in mind that I live in England, I seriously have no idea of what date or [i]if[/i] it will be released here.

Suikoden 4. I heard that they were going to make a European release this time round as for the third, there were translation issues. I hope they bloody do release it here because being deprived of the third in the series was hard enough.

I'm not a great fan of the Megaman series, nor am I truly experienced with it. As for Command Mission, I'll follow it up with reviews after it's released and then decide if I want to get it.

I'm anticipating the Gamecube RPG, Tales of Symphonia the most and I feel it's almost guaranteed that I'll buy it when it's released here.
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DDS and SMT:N are kind of aimed at totally different segments of the market. While SMT:N continues with SMTs routes and appeals to the hardcore RPG player... DDS is aimed more towards those who are more interested in flashy presentations and easy to understand/hard to master gameplay.

I don't think releasing them so close is that bad of an idea, because really DDS has no more to do with the standard SMT franchise than Persona ever did. They're both spinoffs and are capable enough of standing on their own. Of course, putting them in close proximity will likely cause some issues as you say, plus the US version of DDS getting the SMT added to its title may be confusing for some.

. I'm getting both, so it doesn't affect me. They'll likely be the best RPGs of the year. However, I think DDS will be delayed heh.

The next one I'm getting is Tales of Symphonia, simply because it comes out before the rest of these. One that was sadly forgotten here by most is the mentioned Phantom Brave. Disgaea and La Pucelle fans should watch out for that one.
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[color=teal]Another RPG that's set for November is Wild ARMs: Alter Code F. Media Vision are just simply remaking the original to produce a much more enhanced version that will boast better graphics, a new script, and the ability to sustain at least six party members in your team at once.

Phantom Brave is the only one I'm looking forward to out of the list, I don't know if I'll be able to get Tales of Symphonia because I'm currently broke and I've got so many other things on my mind. It's definitely going to be released in the US, so at least I've got some form of a back up if it never hits the UK, problem is that I'll just have to pay more. Damn.[/color] :(
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Suikoden IV is the RPG release for me of 2004 because most of the PS2 RPGs nowdays are beggining to run thin on Gameplay because they are focusing more on graphical enhancment than Gameplay enhancement.

Take Final Fantasy 3 to 5 or Suikodens I and II, All are 2D but possess some of the greatest gameplay found in an RPG yet their graphics are slightly lacking. Now take Final Fantasy 8 and Suikoden 3, FF8 had some of the best graphics I had seen at the time yet The gameplay made it ... craptacular while Suikoden III had very pretty graphics yet it did not live up to its preceddesors. Hopefully Suikoden IV keeps the original batte system and breaks the curse of improving graphics.
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  • 4 weeks later...
[color=teal]The English version of Star Ocean 3 is going to be the aforementioned Director's Cut that was promised in the US and Japan. Great.

The damn thing was delayed so long in the first place [I]because[/I] of the Director's Cut -- something I detested when I first heard about it merely because I wanted to play it straight away, but now that wait really seems worth it. The main reasons for its step-back were originally due to translation issues and a few encounters with various bugs, but gladly, Square-Enix took the opportunity to make so much more out of it by adding a few supplementary features like new characters and dungeons, and a versus mode. Considering the engine that the battle system runs in SO3, that should be really cool.

I've heard complaints about certain mapping issues from previews that say the environments are over-extensive and can easily cause a fair share of backtracking and getting lost, especially that landmarks aren't really at all noticeable. The structure of the map implores a percentage-based theme that tells you how much of the dungeon has been completed, rather than showing you, so I suppose that can't help the tedious elements of the game all too much. Other than that, everything looks tip-top. To be fair, it's only the battle system that pulls me towards SO3, so if those bugs and glitches had no effect on that, then it wouldn't have made a difference to me if I had to have waited for it.[/color]
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[font=Arial][size=2]Well I've only been anticipating and gripping on to everyword about Star Ocean 3 from the first time I saw it's name mentioned on Enix of America's webpage alongside Grandia Xtreme and Robot Alchemic Drive back in... late 2002? Well I'm sick of it being delayed and I am getting my copy of SO3 the day it comes out so I can enjoy it in the few days I have left in summer... WHY COULDN'T THEY MUSTER JUST A LITTLE TRANSLATING SKILL AND GIVE US ALL A LITTLE MORE OF SUMMER!?!? Oh well.... no use complaining about it.[/size][/font]

[color=#008080][QUOTE]The damn thing was delayed so long in the first place [i]because[/i] of the Director's Cut -- something I detested when I first heard about it merely because I wanted to play it straight away, but now that wait really seems worth it. The main reasons for its step-back were originally due to translation issues and a few encounters with various bugs, but gladly, Square-Enix took the opportunity to make so much more out of it by adding a few supplementary features like new characters and dungeons, and a versus mode. Considering the engine that the battle system runs in SO3, that should be really cool.[/QUOTE] [/color]
[font=Arial]Yeah, I feel almost the same way. As soon as I heard about the Director's Cut I didn't know how to feel. I knew there were 2 options: 1 being we'd never see it which would bite the big one, and the other being that it'd be delayed to include which obviously was extremely difficult to wait for but is wourth it.[/font]
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  • 2 weeks later...
[color=teal]Well, I've been following Phantom Brave a lot more recently and picked up on a few details that I found from various other sites on the web. I guess I could say that I'm really content with the layout of it, because it's mostly battles followed by a few short sequences that give in to the story, which should reinstate that this game is aimed at players who'd appreciate the type of battle system it runs with.

The main character of the story is Mirone, a young girl who has the ability to wield around spirits of dead people. It's really interesting how that comes into the battles and tends to offer something quite new for RPGs overall. When the battle begins, you'll see that the only playable character available is Mirone. She can call for the aid of her other companions via these 'spirits' -- which is what brings in the amount of depth to Phantom Brave -- by summoning them on the battlefield, however, they will have to be aligned to an object or prop that's already there, with these props being stuff like rocks, plants, or trees, anything that you'd find lying around the terrain. They're basically like a net for your character to be supported on.

What's compelling about that though is how those props affect the status of your allies. The prop that a spirit may have been aligned to will change the course of its stats, so if a spirit is aligned to a rock, then its HP, attack, and defence will increase, but will cause a decrease in other important stats, which is pretty much self explanatory. Also, those props will determine what [i]additional[/i] magic spells and abilities your allies will have during a battle. Obviously, when a spirit is aligned to a prop, you will get full control over that character in a turn based mode very similar to that of FFT.

When a spirit dies, they will be extinguished from the battle until it ends, though that's not the only way they can perish. After a fixed amount of turns, the spirit will depart from the original prop that it was aligned to, meaning it can't be summoned for the remaining time of that battle, though the prop will still be there and ready for its next alignment. You can obstruct how long it takes for that to happen by levelling up your characters, but even if they are at a high level, they will perish if the battle takes long enough.

The props have another interesting role in battles, however. All playable characters can pick up props that haven't yet been aligned to spirits, which in a sense, is the exact equivalent of equipping normal equipment and accessories in any other RPG. So if you pick up a certain prop, then you'll gain whatever it has to offer that correlates with what a spirit may have gained if aligned to it instead.

When recruiting characters, you actually make them yourself from scratch where you choose everything about them; name, gender, class? whatever you need. It costs quite a bit to create and recruit a character, but you'll definitely be needing their aids. The problem here is that you'll need your money for buying things like equipment and healing items, which can sometimes get quite extortionate considering your other obligations. It's up to you how many you create and store, but when it comes to assigning them to battles, you can only have a limited amount of 16 providing that there're enough props to go around.

This is really why I'm drawn into Phantom Brave the most; Nippon Ichi are introducing things that other RPGs wouldn't dream of doing as it'll be too risky, but new styles are always welcome for me and I really think that other developers/publishers should follow in their steps of taking these sorts of gambles.[/color]
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Honestly I'm going to just go out and buy Final Fantasy 12 when it comes out, and not pay too much attention to these other games. I think I might have room to play one other RPG but I'm not sure which one. I may just have to give it to Tales of Symphonia (Gamecube) simply so that I can use my GC, which has been pretty good as a dust collector lately.

I think I would skip the Megaman RPG in favor of the Megaman Legends set and just play the old games. I think they should give up on megaman games because they really haven't been that great ever. I'm sure they never will because the series has a lot of hardcore fans, but just maybe they should let it die.
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  • 1 month later...
X-Men Legends looks good as of yet. It isn't something I'd consider buying... maybe a rental is as far as it'll go for me, but it looks promising so far. You never know, though, that all may be subject to change in the future, but my hopes aren't high.

So, anyway, I was looking at the character roster, and everything seems to be tip-top. Supposedly, each character's attributes are all in accordance to the comic book series that the game takes after, and judging by the success of those comics (and what little I know of them), the game should have a decent plot, which should be a nice change.

Right now, the only contemplation I have regarding the game is whether or not having fifteen characters is sufficient. Considering the structure of the gameplay (being four-way co-op), that's a great move, because one of the key characteristics of X-Men Legends is for you to work through different teams and come up with your own customisations, and fifteen is a plentiful number, but then again, it could also raise the issue of having certain 'broke' characters. Having more characters means that there will be a larger span for the developers to work at, so if certain areas are left unfinished, it may leave a hole within the gameplay.

But then again, I could be looking into it too much =/

Like I said before, the game plays similar to The Bouncer, as is the RP format. The Bouncer, before its release, was highly acclaimed for its aspects in promoting 'teamwork', but it was very lacking, I thought. Legends says the same, and seeing as there is a much larger character roster, with four players on-screen, I hope that Raven won't come up with half-assed methods that require a single brain-cell to work. That would just suck.

If it can be pulled off, then that'll be cool, otherwise, screw it.
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