Fullmetal Alchemist - Impressions  

by Billy Young

I recently picked up the January issue of Official Playstation Magazine and was reading through and realized that on this month's demo disc, there was a Fullmetal Alchemist demo on it. Of course, the demo was just begging to be played so I decided to give it a run through to see how things were and also to be able to give you all a look at what will be heading to retail next Tuesday.

The story of Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel begins with two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric attempting to complete a human transmutation to bring their deceased mother back to life. Unfortunately, this doesn't go too well for the two brothers. In the process of trying this forbidden act of alchemy, Edward loses his leg while Elric loses his entire body. Edward, to save his brother, used his right arm to transmute Alphonse's soul and bound it to a large suit of armor. Today, the two brothers are in search for the Philosopher's Stone; the only possible way for them to regain their original bodies.

The battle system for Fullmetal Alchemist is fairly straightforward in that this is an Action RPG at heart. All battles take place in real-time and take place without leaving the screen that allows you to travel around. This creates a battle system where if needed to, escape is possible without having to choose a command and wait. Edward is the main player controlled character while Alphonse is given a supporting role. Players, if so choosen, can call Alphonse out to help and have him do either tackle attacks or Edward can transmute weapons for either himself or Al to use in battle.

You meet this fellow at the front of the train You meet this fellow at the front of the train

   The demo gives the player three choices on what to do first. There is a train area that allows for a tutorial on the game's different functions including attacking and defending. Here, the players must battle their way through a train, whether it be through the cars themselves or on top of them. This level gives the player a chance to learn how to transmute many different items into both small and large weapons.

   The second portion allows for a field battle that assumes the player already understands the many different features within Fullmetal Alchemist and takes place in the field, in a place called New Hiessgart. Here, the player must battle through this town in order to get back out again. The demo ends rather abruptly before this can take place though. Mostly, this town gives players a chance to practice transmutations and duking it out with numerous amounts of enemies.

   The final choice that the player is given is called Alchemyworks and this is a boss battle with a rather large monster. To defeat this creature, one must transmute certain items into bombs, light the bombs on fire by striking them, and then make sure that the monster sucks the bomb in but not yourself. This battle is very tedious and will take quite some time to complete. Normal attacks will not work on this tough-skinned baddy.
Like a child in a candy store Like a child in a candy store

   The graphics, while not quite being awe-inspiring like the Final Fantasy series, this title does make good use out of the Playstation 2 hardware and is definitely worthy of at least some praise. Cutscenes, are rendered using the anime style graphics that fans from the show will be familiar with. While the story is mostly told through quiet still shots using text, cutscenes make full use of the American voices from the Funimation voiced series. The music in the game was varied and quite memorable with a few pieces being quite catchy. Expect both visuals and audio to be smoothed out for the final version which is scheduled out next Tuesday, January 18.

   Overall, you can definitely get a good feel for how will play in the final version. Certain items that you transmute may be able to be transmuted again so be sure to double check if you're unsure. As long as the story for this title holds up in the end, this title definitely seems like it'd be fun for those whom are fans of the series.

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