Dark Cloud Hands-On

Dark Cloud promises an in-depth story and the Georama creation system along with epic battles and mind-bending puzzles.

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Dark Cloud, one of the several PS2-exclusive titles Sony is preparing for the PlayStation 2's North American launch, aspires to be all things to all gamers. The game was displayed at E3 for the first time, and we had the chance to test out a couple of its much-talked-about features.

In one sense, Dark Cloud has a storyline and presentation much like those of an RPG. You take control of a single player and guide him through a quest that takes him across an epic game world. Control, on the other hand, feels as though it was borrowed from an adventure title - especially with its very platformer-like camera angles and perspective. On top of this, the title is supposed to offer other more revolutionary features like the ability to shape and design your own game world (dubbed the Georama system), as well as action-packed battles and puzzle solving.

Control is simple enough, with the analog joystick proving to be a suitable method of manipulating the main character (Toran) through the opening area's town. Here you can enter buildings, run over bridges, and interact with townsfolk as in any other RPG or adventure game. The aforementioned camera perspective also makes it hard at times not to ignore the wonderful atmosphere of the town. Standing on top of a building gives you an unobstructed view of the tiny community at twilight, complete with smoke billowing from smokestacks and gently bubbling streams alongside the neatly detailed houses.

Dark Cloud promises an in-depth story and the Georama creation system along with epic battles and mind-bending puzzles. From what I saw of the title, it looks fully capable of realizing its ambitions. Dark Cloud is scheduled to be released at approximately the same time the PlayStation 2 debuts.

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