E3 06: Dirge of Cerberus Localization Update

Square Enix is changing a whole ton of things about its Final Fantasy VII-inspired shooter since the game hit Japan. Find out what's new inside.

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LOS ANGELES--Believe it or not, the designers of Dirge of Cerberus--the third-person action game starring Final Fantasy VII's vampy antihero Vincent Valentine--didn't think the game was perfect when it was released in Japan earlier this year. Or at least, after receiving player feedback and doing some of their own design retrospection, they decided to retool many of the aspects of the game before its August release in the states. You don't often see a game like this so radically tweaked during the localization process, so we were interested to see everything that's new in the forthcoming North American version.

For starters, Vincent himself will play a lot differently. He now runs noticeably faster--1.2 times faster, to be precise. Also, you won't experience as drastic a slowdown when you've got your weapon drawn in aiming mode (and you can further reduce this drag by customizing your weapon to make it lighter). There's a new double-jump move that will come in handy in more open areas, and you can even perform shooting attacks and melee combos in midair now. Vincent's dive-roll dodge move has been supplanted with a dash move that gets you out of the way just as well but lets you recover into an attack position faster. Finally, the limit-break special-attack move no longer detracts from your magic bar; instead, you'll have to find single-use limit-break items to invoke this special power.

The game balance has also been changed quite a bit. There's no more easy difficulty mode--now you start out with only normal and hard, and finishing either of those modes unlocks an "extra hard" mode that contains a whopping 40 special missions (which become unlocked as you go), as well as new, modded weapons. Also, you'll be able to access a character-model viewer, artwork, and sound galleries by playing through these bonus missions, which promise to be among the most difficult in the game.

Forty missions sounds like a lot to add, huh? You had to figure there'd be a trade off somewhere, and indeed Dirge of Cerberus will lose its online multiplayer mode for the US release. In fact, most of the bonus missions are adapted directly from the previous multiplayer content. Square Enix reps said this was mainly due to the relative unpopularity of the company's PlayOnline service in America and because the game's online mode required the PlayStation 2 hard drive, which has a very small installed base here. Besides, they wanted to offer a more tightly focused single-player game, instead. You'll still have mouse-and-keyboard support if you want to play the game more like a shooter, though.

Anyway, if the multiplayer mode is gone, at least you've still got Gackt. The gothic Japanese renaissance man--who makes music, acts, provides anime voice work, and stars in his own game in his mother country--adds his likeness to an enigmatic character in Dirge of Cerberus, as well as providing two songs for the soundtrack. We had to confirm that Gackt's contributions would remain intact for those members of the American audience looking forward to them.

In short, Dirge of Cerberus is going to be a very different game when it comes out in North America, and we'll be curious if all these changes add up to an appreciably better game. We'll bring you that determination as soon as we can.

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