previews\ May 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Cross Edge - PS3 - Preview

It seems that the universe of the mind revolves around thoughts – those remembered and those forgotten. But what truly happens to the forgotten thoughts? Where do they go and what are they seeking? Those are the questions posed during the intro to Cross Edge, a traditional Japanese RPG from NIS America and Idea Factory.

While the game does pose some interesting ideas before it opens, when it does actually begin, players are embroiled in the kind of dialogue where you have to scroll through text (which is sometimes spoken) that might be as fascinating as “ … !!” (No, that is not a typo, that is what some of the text boxes actually say.)

The story begins with York and Miko, who were apparently on their way home with another friend when they suddenly pass out and awaken in a meadow. While they are trying to figure out what is going on and where they are, some large canine-like beasts attack them. York, for whatever reason, is carrying twin pistols, and the setting is the first introduction to the turn-based battle system.

Shortly after the first encounter, a scantily-clad woman called Morrigan Aensland appears. She is very sexual in nature and her primary attack – prior to leveling her up – is the ‘libido touch.’

The game then begins to expand with little other information introduced. The trio must find out where they are, and to do so will require some exploration.

The heart and soul of this game is not the story, but the combat system. As it is turn-based, going first gives the advantage, and that is determined by the characters’ total AP (action points) and AGI. If your party has the higher total, they start the combat. But combat still revolves around AP. Players assign skills to the hot buttons on the PS3 controller with each skill having an AP cost to use. Once the attack is initiated, a timer is triggered. You can attack with a character for as long as you have time left on the timer and AP. However, because the game also uses combos, you might not want to exhaust all the AP on one character before switching to another. Characters within a party can combo attacks and there are even combos that can be generated for devastating branch combos. In the character menu, there is a tab called Arcane Tomes that detains the sequence for combos and this is definitely something that players need to be wary of.

Up for four characters can travel in a party. For Cross Fire, NIS pulled in characters that may be familiar to players of other games. Cross Edge features infamous characters from Disgaea, Darkstalkers, Mana Khemia 3, Ar tonelico, and Spectral Souls. Morrigan is actually a succubus from Darkstalkers, hence the pre-occupation with things sexual/sensual in the character’s behavior (and this should steer the game away from an “E” rating).

The game is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the audio and graphics (at least in the preview version received). The game seems to jump between sprite-like characters and high-def rendered static character portraits that jump in from the sides when the characters are in dialogue mode. The audio ranges from the over-the-top (as in too exaggerated) sound effects, some so-so vocal acting and a driving rock-based combat score.

For those who enjoy the traditional Japanese RPG, Cross Edge seems to be more of the same and is worth a look. For those new to the genre, the combat is involving and rewarding (you will get bonus items for overkills – as in exceeding the remaining hit points of a foe with an attack that does 200 more points of damage than the opponent has hit points), and this might be a game worthy of introducing new players to the genre. With a wide and diverse cast of characters, it certainly bears a further look when it releases to retail in mid-May.

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