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E3 Impression

Arc the Lad: End of Darkness

05.20.2005

BILLY YOUNG
STAFF REPORTER
ELLIOT GUISINGER
CURRENTS COLUMNIST

SCREENSHOT
Bad machine!

Arc the Lad: End of Darkness is the latest in a series of long-running RPG series known best for its unique strategy-influenced battle system. That is, until this chapter. As a departure from the series, End of Darkness features a battle system that is much more similar to that of an action RPG. The player controls Edda, the hero of the main story and, as in the fashion of most action RPGs, runs around freely in dungeons, hacking and slashing away at his enemies. The game controls very smoothly and fluidly, though it feels slower than what is comfortable. Pressing the R2 button opens the magic menu from which the player can choose to cast fire, blizzard, or cure magic. All of the magic effects were flashy and well-done. When fire was cast, it seemed like the entire map, or at least a large chunk of it, was engulfed in flames.

In another huge departure from the series, End of Darkness is the first Arc the Lad title to be online-compatible. Though the player can choose to play the single player story, there is also a cooperational multiplayer internet option through which up to four players can join in. The demo at E3 that I played only covered the online portion and I was fortunate enough to have Cortney jump onto the adjacent machine to try out the cooperative online play with me. First off, there's no change in the gameplay when jumping from single player to online. The only thing that's really different is that the multiplayer mode is divided up into separate missions and the people playing must work together to clear all the enemies on the field to complete the mission. There's no story involved--it's just mindless, slashing, online fun. Probably the biggest concern on most people's minds is lag. Essentially, all I have to say is that no one needs to worry. There was no lag whatsoever in the game I played. I was even able to play my character while looking over and watching only Cortney's screen. It was as if we were on the same machine.

The best way I can think of to describe End of Darkness's online gameplay is to say that it's very reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online, only better. It's faster, cleaner, prettier, less repetitive, and a lot more fun. Arc the Lad fans and newcomers to the series, alike, should keep an eye out for this title.

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Console:
· Playstation 2

Release:
· June 2005

Publisher:
· Namco Hometek

Developer:
· Cattle Call


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