Phantasy Star Universe Preview

The Phantasy Star series first appeared in Japan on December 1987 on the Sega Master System. The game was specifically a Japanese release, and didn’t come to U.S. shores until a year later. Selling for $70, at the time it was the most expensive game ever. (In 2006, that would mean the game would cost approximately $120.) In 2003, the games were re-released for the PS2 as Phantasy Star Generation 1. Since then, old fans and new fans alike have been clamoring for the next installment of the classic RPG. The newest in the series – Phantasy Star Universe – has been seen in demos on and off at the E3 conventions since 2003, and the final edition is almost ready for release on U.S. shores.

PSU is not only a stand-alone RPG title, it will also sport online capabilities for the Phantasy Star faithful. The game has already been released in Japan, but early indications from abroad show that the online feature is still buggy at this point. Recently, Sega has shut down the servers in an attempt to fix the problems. As far as the stand-alone version, RPG fans can look forward to at least 40+ hours of gameplay.

The storyline of PSU revolves around a young teenager – a social rebel who hates authority, especially the local law called the Guardians. Our hero, Ethan, has a change of heart when aliens attack his world and his sister is endangered. Through a series of events, he eventually joins the very group that he hates so much, in order to help his sister and to battle against the alien invaders. The reason for his antagonism against the Guardians is revealed as the game progresses.

As far as gameplay, Phantasy Star Universe takes the tried and true course of a linear storyline. Old school RPG fans will enjoy this aspect of the game as the plot unfolds in classic RPG manner. The early stages of the game, as it is with most RPGs, are used as a training ground in order to get familiar with how the battle system works, the motivation for the characters and other aspects of the game essential in progressing through the title.

PSU offers mission based action in which the characters have specific tasks and goals to perform, and of course, along the way, they’ll be ample opportunities to level up your characters, fight against bad guys, and pick up items in order to assist you on your journey. The game provides a good deal of cut scenes during gameplay, and this eye-candy should please those who are familiar with the Final Fantasy-style of plot development. The visual aspect of PSU is done in anime style with a heavy dose of sci-fi environments thrown in for good measure.

The battle system is based upon wielding various weapons such as lances, swords, knives and melee fighting tactics. Depending on which characters you are controlling, you’ll also be able to use firearms along with your basic fighting techniques. These weapons can utilize special powers that will enable you to fire special attacks such as electrified bullets, flame bursts and other upgrades. Of course, no RPG is worth its salt unless there is a good amount of magic thrown in, as well. In the case of PSU, you’ll be able to use magic wands, rods and objects.

While there is the usual fare of exploration, fighting and skill training, the game also provides several opportunities for time trial challenges in which you rush to find objects, defeat bosses, or vanquish enemies within a pre-determined period of time. Complete the task before time runs out, and you’ll be rewarded accordingly. Take too long, and you’ll obviouslly fail.

As it stands now, Phantasy Star Universe seems to have something for every RPG fan: a strong plot, a good battle system, fine visuals, and online functionality. If these initial elements prove to be consistent throughout the released game, Phantasy Star Universe will be a title that every fan of the genre should have in their collection.

The game is scheduled for release on October 24th, and will retail for $49.99 for the PS2 and PC, and $59.99 for the Xbox 360.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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