Review of Summoner
Joseph is a distraught soul. As a child Josephs village was attacked by ravaging hoards, knowing all hop was lost and feeling the desperation of seeing his fellow villagers and family getting wiped out, he did the only thing he could do.
Calling forth the powers within him and using the summoning ring he wore, he brought forth a demon from another realm. This power frightened Joseph as a boy, as it would anyone, but this was much worse. Being young and inexperienced, Joseph lost control of the demon, and not only did the beast lay waste to Josephs enemies, but turned on the very village Joseph sought to protect.
Death surrounded Joseph. Exiled now and vowing never to summon again he moved far away to a place called Masad to be alone in his guilt. Joseph, however, cannot run nor hide from whats in store for him, for he bears the dreaded mark of the Summoner, and fate will catch him.
Summoner plays a lot like a typical PC Rpg, not that that is a bad thing, but it should be said. You start off with Joseph and as you explore, you eventually meet up with other characters that will join your party.
The control of the characters as far as movement goes is just fine, fluid movement is nice and promotes a good atmosphere to the game. Movement while in battle is also very nice. Let me explain this a little. When you and your party get into an encounter it is not random, even on the world map when you have an encounter you are put into an area with monsters all around, but you still have to engage them, or them you. You also could choose to attack while you are at a distance, or you may choose to just go around them, or even to lob a few fireballs at them just to get their attention.
When you are battling, you control one character while the AI controls the rest of the group. At any time you may switch whom you are controlling or give commands, via pop-up windows, to alter their actions. The character you control can use magic from afar, or hop right up close to duke it out with swords or whatever else you might have. You may also disengage the monsters to try and run around back and get a better advantage.
One nice thing about Summoner is the Chain attacks. While not for everyone they are a style that involves the player more deeply in combat. A quick way to explain it is that when your character hits an enemy, a chain symbol will appear over their head, and at that point you have to press an alternate D-pad button to keep the chain going to do even greater damage. If you are too slow or fast, the chain is broken and the enemy can get even with you.
Summoner is loaded with all sorts of items, armor, weapons, scrolls; you name it Summoner has it. Also, in case you didnt notice, Joseph can summon demon beasts. These beasts will actually join your party and fight with you. If you leave a battle area the beast goes away (well, you dont want them ripping through town again, do you?). This summoning aspect is a real treat and makes this game extra fun for me to play.
The towns are huge, no I mean huge! So many people to talk with, and a lot of them want your help. This leads to a whole lot of side quests you may or may not decide to take part in. I always do though; its so much better than rushing through. The good part is that there is a mapping system, and most of the important people will have little exclamation points above their heads, to clue you in.
Summoner is a little overwhelming at first to get a hold on the game play, especially if you have never or rarely played one set up like this, but in no time you will find the menu system like second nature. I got used to and actually like the interface Summoner uses.
The visuals of Summoner are a mixed bag, but I think they are pretty good, heres why. Most of the game is done from two types of perspectives; the ¾ top down, and then the top down with a wide rang of camera movement at your disposal.
The areas where you can turn the camera just about anywhere are totally good looking, while the larger areas, such as towns have a more limited camera motion, probably to limit what you see, which is what they call draw-in. Yes there is draw-in, and sometimes its bad, but other than huge town like atmospheres it isnt really a problem to me. The beautiful textures that cover the buildings and surroundings in Summoner, to me, make up for the Draw-in factor.
The characters are plain eerie looking, but they do fit the story line well, and convey the dark atmosphere that is rampant in Josephs world. Overall, like I said, the visuals in Summoner are a mixed bag of goods that Volition should have worked a bit more on in the long run.
For me, where Summoner shines bright, besides the game-play, was in the sound department. Not a whole lot of embellishment here, but a few facts. Summoner has excellent ambient sound. The trees rustling, birds chirping and rats scurrying, all make the atmosphere fit to a tee.
The background music also fits very well with the place you happen to be stuck in, and subliminally implores you to push on with your journey. Also the voice acting is very fitting, no cheesy B movie lines here, the characters seem to know what they are saying and convey their message with convincing story.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Summoner' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Robert Gibson © Absolute PlayStation
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