E3 2002Dark Cloud 2 impressions

Level-5's RPG sequel is playable at E3. Check out impressions.

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Level-5's upcoming sequel to its popular action-RPG Dark Cloud was playable at Sony's booth at E3. Its title's been changed for its North American release, from Dark Chronicle to Dark Cloud 2. A few levels were open for play, though none of the ones we messed with allowed us to sample its georama features--the semi-simulation elements that the first game was known for.

The game's most immediately noticeable addition comes in the area of its visual design. It's cel-shaded, and its world looks a whole lot more welcoming as a result. There are also two playable characters this time around--the young man with a striking resemblance to the first game's protagonist, and a young girl with a long pink braided mane. The young boy is named Max, and he seems to be an engineer or tinker of some nature, and he fights by bludgeoning enemies with large, chunky tools, or shooting them with various guns presumably of his own design. He also has a large robot frame that he can ride, which he can use to fight things. It flails its arms around in a very violent manner, and does some pretty nice damage. Max's female counterpart, meanwhile, seems to use swords mostly.

Two of the levels on demo at E3 focused on light exploration and combat. To compliment the game's exploration elements, a small automap is located on the upper-right corner of the screen. Your path is marked as you explore the environments, which makes it easy to retrace your steps, when need be. There were two such environments--one indoor, and one outdoor--and they both seemed to involve the same sort of gameplay. Enemies of various shapes and sizes populated the environments, which allowed us to get a feel for the game's combat system. There were froglike creatures in the forest stage, which, if you let them, would attack you en masse. There was also a huge beast that resembles a tree with a deadly reach, and a pretty robust number of hit points. Combat seems to work fairly well, overall. You lock on to your enemies with the circle button, and attack them with melee weapons with X. If you have access to a ranged weapon, you can pull it out with L1 button, and fire at whatever you're locked onto with X. It's all pretty simple overall, but it seems to work decently.

Another leg of the demo took place in a town environment. Many of the areas were unfortunately locked out of the game, but there was a mini-scenario open that allowed us to talk to some of the town's denizens, and see some of the local geometry. The scenario involved one of Max's friends asking him to stalk a local girl, and take a photo of her for him. As Max, it was our job to retrace the girl's steps, and, once we'd found her, convince her to pose for a photo, and take it back to Max's friend. The friend in question loans you a camera, which you deploy with the square button. Once in the viewfinder, you simply scroll around, and snap a shot by hitting the square button again.

Unfortunately, as mentioned before, none of the georama features--which are reportedly much-improved from the game's previous version--were available in any of the demos we played. We'll have more on Dark Cloud 2 as soon as its available.

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