Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution Impressions

The latest installment in the Phantasy Star Online series heads off into new territory.

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Sega showed off the latest entry in the Phantasy Star Online franchise for the GameCube in its booth at E3. The game, dubbed Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution, will continue, and possibly wrap up, the Ragol storyline that began in the original Phantasy Star Online. Unlike previous entries in the series, Phantasy Star Online Episode III will focus on turn-based combat revolving around the use of cards. The game will feature improved graphics, as well as online and offline play.

The demo on hand at the Sega booth was missing some gameplay elements, but it gave us a rough idea of what to expect from the game. You'll choose from light and dark side and play as characters unique to your alignment. It appears that the alignments will fight in very different ways. The light side seems to rely on a traditional attack and defense card system, while the dark side appears to use cards to summon creatures that can be directed to attack enemies. The combat is broken down into different phases, and dice are used to determine attack order and other variables.

The graphics in the game are impressive and serve up a strong assortment of eye candy. While the characters and enemies haven't seen much of an improvement, the environments have been given an extra layer of polish. The levels now feature a greater level of detail, as well as dramatic new lighting effects.

While we're still not 100-percent sure we grasp the intricacies of C.A.R.D. Revolution's battle system, the game should appeal to PSO fans anxious for more of the series' story. The online and offline modes should also be strong additions to the game. Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution is slated to ship early next year for the GameCube.

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