TGS 2003Phantom Dust Update

We get more details on the upcoming Xbox action game.


At a roundtable discussion today Game director Yukio Futatsugi shed a bit more light on Phantom Dust, the upcoming strategy action game that he and his team at Microsoft's Japan studios are working on. The game will feature 300 skills that fall into different categories such as attack, defense, and parameter alteration, which include anything from changing your own personal speed or other abilities, to affecting the attributes of the world around you, or those of your enemies.

The discussion also yielded more details on the game's story, which will be the focus of the single-player game. In the wake of an disaster that left the world in shambles, you play a survivor who, like many people in the world, is affected by a mysterious dust that steals a person's memory. The upside to the dust-related amnesia is that those affected by the dust gain special powers. As you might expect, one of the components of the single-player involves retrieving your lost memory. The single-player game will break down into more than 50 missions that will offer a variety of challenges. The various single-player missions will run the gamut from standard combat missions to more puzzle-oriented and strategic challenges that require you to use specific skills to achieve certain goals. If you manage to successfully complete your current mission, you'll be rewarded with skills. You'll begin the game with just 10 skills, though as mentioned, the game will have 300. Currently, the developer seems to intend to let you play through each of the game's many missions in any order, so that you can try to collect whichever specific skills you want first.

In terms of multiplayer, the game will support online battles over Xbox Live. You'll be able to choose a unique skin based on characters you encounter in the single-player game to distinguish your character's appearance when going online. The game will support up to four players in a single session, complete with Xbox Live voice chat. Multiplayer will have some different modes, including a free-for-all mode, as well as a tag-team mode that splits players up into teams. The game's multiplayer modes will also feature some new dynamics revolving around the use of skills, since some skills will be more useful in multiplayer play than in the single-player game. For example, you may find a skill that revives a fallen partner. The team was unable to comment on any other Xbox Live features at the moment. When asked about trading skills online or downloadable content, Mr. Futatsugi stated that the team is looking into Xbox Live support, but couldn't say much more about it at this time.

We were also able to take a look at an updated version of the game during the discussion. The game looks better than when we last saw it; it seems more polished now and it runs more smoothly. The effects for the various skills look quite varied and offer some dramatic visuals. The most striking element in what we saw was likely the destructible environments that, besides looking very cool, play a significant role in multiplayer combat. In some arenas, you can bring walls down on your foes or punch holes in the ground to leave some unpleasant surprises for them. Phantom Dust is currently scheduled for a 2004 release in Japan. Microsoft's exact plans for a US release are still being determined.

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