RPGamer Preview: Summoner
the most talked-about PS2 launch RPG
and easily the best-looking.
Sony PlayStation 2
Rated Teen for violent content.
It's a new RPG from the creators of Descent and Freespace 2.
While that in itself may leave a number of RPG gamers scratching their
heads, there's no question that Summoner, the first RPG from Volition
Software, looks fantastic. Since the game's announcement, Volition has
provided a steady flow of screenshots and information about the game.
For the most part, the screenshots speak
for themselves and are enough to excite any RPG fan- but what kind of
a game is Summoner?
On the surface, Summoner's storyline seems to resemble a mix of modern
fantasy novels and Xenogears.
The main character, Joseph, is a "summoner", a special kind
of magician born with the ability to summon creatures to his aid -- powerful
monsters such as demons and golems. In ancient times, a summoner was the
deadliest weapon of any invading force, and had the power to change the
course of battles. But when Joseph tries to use his summoning ability to
save his village from impending destruction, the demon he summons goes on
a rampage and destroys the village, killling his friends and family. From
that day forward Joseph vowed never to summon again. But when his own homeland
is threatened by outside invasion, Joseph has to take a stand. Together
with four friends, Joseph searches for ancient, magical rings that, together
with his Summoner's power, could save his homeland from total annihilation.
Summoner uses a powerful 3D engine to create its gameworld. Some screenshots
of the game can be found here; believe it
or not, all of those shots are taken from inside the game -- none are
pre-rendered. The engine is also used to create cutscenes that occur in
real-time, so as to preserve continuity. The detail in Summoner's
environments, enemies, and characters is extremely impressive, whether
you're traveling through the medieval-themed continent of Medeva, or the
more Oriental-style architecture and environments or Oriena. Each area
has its own enemies which are unique to that area.
Throughout the game you'll be journeying with up to four characters. During
battle, Joseph can also summon monsters to help him, resulting in up to
five characters per battle. Combat is somewhat reminscent of Secret
of Mana; it occurs in real-time, and you can control one character
at a time. The other characters will act depending on the settings you provide
for them. For example, you can set a character to be aggressive, or to heal
most of the time. You can also switch between your characters during battles
to control them directly.
Each of the members of your party have special attacks that are unique to
them. As you come out of a normal attack, you can hit a directional button
to execute an extra attack, called a Chain Attack. Although you cannot execute
the same Chain Attack twice in a row, theoretically you can use these attacks
for as long a Chain as you like, allowing you to make quick work of enemies.
The Summoning ability is unique to Joseph, yet still has a good bit of depth.
Each Ring that you will find corresponds to a different property, such as
Flame, Light, Darkness, etc. Used alone or in conjunction with each other,
the Rings will allow you to summon different creatures, such as Minotaurs,
Imps, and more. During a battle, when Joseph summons a creature, you have
control over that creature, until such a time as you banish it, the creature
is killed, or Joseph is knocked unconscious; if the latter happens, you
lose control over the creature and it attacks at random.
Although Summoner will be released as a PS2 launch title, it will
also be released for Macintosh and Windows 98 early in 2001. The PC/Mac
versions will include a multiplayer mode that will not be found in the PS2
version. Not much is known about this multiplayer mode at present, but likely
it will be similar to games such as Diablo,
in that other players will control other characters in a cooperative
Summoner is scheduled for release on October 26 alongside the PlayStation2.
A PC/Mac version will follow early next year.