TGS 2002: Hands-on: Rune 2

From Software shows off the next installment in the series known as Lost Kingdoms in the US.

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We had a chance to try out Rune 2 for the GameCube in From Software's booth today and were pleasantly surprised at the improvements being made to the series. The original Rune was a solid action RPG that put you in the role of a young princess who was attempting to fend off an evil force that threatened her kingdom. For the follow-up, From Software has opted to forgo the easy route of recycling the original game and has instead put quite a bit of work into refining every aspect of it. Rune 2 offers improved graphics, new creature cards, and a revamped combat system that actually improves on the original.

The first thing that caught our eye were the game's graphics, which are a substantial improvement on the original game's graphics. The main character's model sports a higher level of detail and features a larger number of moving elements. The environments you'll explore also offer a leap in detail and design. In addition to cleaner textures and new environmental effects such as dirt kicking up as you run through it, the levels will now feature breakable elements that you'll be able to knock away in order to access hidden areas. Finally, the other stars of the game, the members of game's substantial bestiary, are receiving a face-lift that's comparable to the princess'. You'll find that the creatures sport greater detail, more moving elements, and smoother animation.

Finally, Rune 2's gameplay has seen some serious tweaking that has resulted in faster combat and pacing. While battles would be randomly triggered as you explored areas in the original game, Rune 2 will let you jump right into combat without a transitional load screen. Once you encounter an enemy, all of whom are now visible onscreen when you explore, you can immediately start a fight by using your cards. The end result is that combat is much faster, which in turn speeds up the rest of the game. In addition, you'll find yourself temporarily morphed into some of your creature cards when you use them in battle. The gameplay tweaks afford you greater control over the creatures and combat in general.

Judging from what we played so far, Rune 2 is coming together quite nicely. The various additions and changes definitely make the game look like it will be a very promising entry in the burgeoning franchise. Rune 2 is slated to ship in 2003 for the GameCube in Japan. There has been no solid word on a US release for the game. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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