True Fantasy Live Online E3 2003 Preshow Report

We've got the latest details on the upcoming graphically impressive Xbox-exclusive MMORPG from the makers of Dark Cloud 2.

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At the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week, Microsoft will be showing off True Fantasy Live Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game currently in development exclusively for the Xbox and the Xbox Live service. True Fantasy Live Online is perhaps most distinguishable right off the bat for its graphics. Featuring a cel-shaded look clearly inspired by Japanese animation, the game appears very different from (and generally much better than) previous MMORPGs. The game is currently in development at Level-5, which recently completed the critically acclaimed Dark Cloud 2 for the PlayStation 2.

Other than its appearance, True Fantasy Live Online does not seem to be a drastic departure from other MMORPGs. As the rather odd title suggests, the game takes place in a high-fantasy setting, filled with swords and sorcery. You will be able to advance in various career paths and can become everything from a seasoned adventurer to an accomplished tailor or cook. Initially, you'll be able to create a highly customized character, at least in terms of its look. Gender, face shape, and even lip color can be adjusted, and after you create a character, its appearance can still change during the course of the game. For instance, a character that constantly exerts itself physically, such as by fighting or smithing, might become large and muscular--but slightly slower on his feet. A character that doesn't eat much, meanwhile, might grow thin and frail. Microsoft emphasizes that changes to your character's appearance won't just be superficial, but will reflect the character's overall condition.

As in other MMORPGs, in True Fantasy Live Online players will wish to band together to accomplish greater goals, to vanquish tougher foes, and ultimately to gain more experience. Here Microsoft stresses that the Xbox Live features will make partying up with other players better than in any previous such game, in no small part since you will be able to use voice chat to communicate. You will also be able to travel by various means, not just by foot--such as on horseback, by carriage, by ship, on camels, on magic broomsticks, and on dragons. You'll visit places like forests, deserts, dungeons, cities, and all the fantasy mainstays. Plus Microsoft promises that more regions will become available by download over time, making True Fantasy Live Online a constantly changing universe much like Microsoft's Asheron's Call series of MMORPGs for the PC.

The game is still a ways off but is clearly ambitious. Microsoft has yet to announce whether additional surcharges for the game will apply, or any real details on gameplay, character advancement, and more. But if for no other reason than the game's unique look and ambitious concept, we can't wait to learn more, and you'll know those details just as soon as we do.

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