previews\ Aug 15, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Enchanted Arms - 360 - Preview 2

Three young men stand in a glacial field, a powerful mage hovers before them, her laughter gently mocking them. The trio of comrades unleashes magic torrents at the woman, but she seems to laugh off the damage, returning with spells much more powerful. The fight does not last long.

While Enchanted Arms kicks off with a grand boss battle, it is merely a taste of what is to come.

Ubisoft and From Software are behind the title, which will be released on the 360. GameZone was able to receive a preview of the title and while the game does track some of the traditional elements from the turn-based strategic role-playing genre, it is obvious that the game was designed for the advanced graphical capabilities of the 360 console.

The Golem Wars took place a thousand years before the timeline of this particular tale and once they ended, humans rebuilt the world using technology and “enchanting” – the only magic not lost.

The golems were known as devil golems, and were very powerful. The game begins at Enchant University, somewhat of a Hogwarts. The central character is a student named Atsuma, who excels at the practical elements. Using both static screens and moderate animation, the game’s prelude is an introduction to the controls. Some of the dialogue – at least in this build – was spoken and much was merely typed chat that needed to be scrolled through.

It takes a while for the game to actually get started, but during the time Atsuma gets to socialize with his friend Toya and a seemingly gay character named Makoto. Gay? Well, the way the dev team has him talking is very stereotypical and, at times, silly. (And Makoto does refer to himself as Toya’s “disciple of love.”) But then most of the attempts at humor fall a little short. But it is during this phase that it is learned that Atsuma has some special abilities tied in to his right arm. The trio decides to cut classes and head down to Yokohama where preparations are underway for a festival.

From there it is mindless running about the university, trying to find the way through, with interactions with other characters along the way. And yes, there will be action, as well as the opportunity to direct some of the game’s course through decisions made.

In many ways the game presents some of the stock elements often associated with a Japanese-style RPG. The game has grind in trying to navigate and load times are kept small, but they are still there. Combat consists of movement and combat. Players can select where within the gridded map they will move with some of the movement allowing them the spacing needed to perform combat. With ranged attackers, being on the right square is important. It is important to note that the longer combat continues the more difficult it will become. It is advised, early on, to end fights as quickly as possible. Because you control each character in turn and then after all the instructions are given, you end your turn by actualizing all the commands (a button stroke); you have to be rather strategic about what you do.

The music of this title is terrific. The voice acting is solid – what there is of it.

Enchanted Arms is somewhat typical of the genre, but it is punctuated by two things – the first being that it is the first Japanese-style RPG for the 360 and the second is that the graphical elements breathe new life into the genre. This will likely be a game that appeals to RPG gamers and may draw in new fans. The game, at least in this build, does have some flaws but those are most commonly associated with the genre – humor that falls flat, long lead times to the battle sequences and so on. Still, there are plenty of positives here that should make for a good look upon the game’s release.

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