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Monday, May 20, 2013

Resonance of Fate


When humanity has grown too large and life can no longer be properly sustained on Earth, measures must be taken....



Story

In an unknown era, the human population has increased to such a number that the planet has been ravaged by pollution and depleted of resources; people are forced to live on an ancient structure. Peoples’ lives must be controlled, their lives and deaths in the hands of an unknown God, Zenith. In order to control when people die, a system was put into place to easily control the population via a special stone that each person has assigned to them, a Quartz, upon its destruction, that person would die.

A young women, Frieda, believing people should be allowed to live there lives how they want, free of destiny, spoke of her dream often her ideals attracted many followers, the most loyal being made Cardinals, she was seen as both a visionary and a radical. Because of this, she was ultimately killed. Cardinal Rowen continued to carry her ideals more so than the others, he was determined to change the system Zenith had in place and commissioned Cardinal Sullivan to find a way to do so.


Graphics

As is expected from a JRPG, the characters have a bit of an anime look, much like Final Fantasy games, but don’t overdo it and characters are expressive and quirky. A big focus point for many is the environment, many believe it is too grey and dull, but come on, how many machines, gears, buildings and gravel do you see that are something other than black, grey or white? Not many, I’d assume. 

This game is focused on technology, machines and sci-fi, or Steampunk as some call it, and the color fits right in with that classification. The areas will become very repetitive after a bit though, as many areas seem to be a copy and paste of previous sections you’ve already visited, even more true for the battle areas, which vary between 2 and 3 different layouts per type of layout.


Sound/Voice/Music

If you noticed, this game is done by Tri-Ace, the folks that did Star Ocean and some others, and the music reflects that, meaning it is very well done. There are two types of music that play, your standard normal battle music and your hyped up techno-y music that plays when you go into Hero Action, both work well.

Voices are done very well, with the exception of whenever someone cries (I’ve never liked characters crying, as they always sound so forced. Kill their cat, maybe then they’ll get a bit of emotion going….). Zephyr also does very well when he’s angry, which is most of the time, plus he's voiced by Scott Menville, who does Robin on Teen Titans, Lloyd in Tales of Symphonia and many other VO's. I love that guy.


Controls

Controls are fairly simple and require little to no effort to master. In combat, ‘X’ is used to perform a Hero Run or ‘Hero Action’, which allows you to run great distances and build up your attack gauge (more on that soon) faster. ‘A’ either executes an attack when you have at least one gauge filled or begins filling your gauge.

Attacking is done in a seemingly complex way, but after a few battles, you’ll have a basic understanding (if you played Eternal Sonata, you’ll understand it fairly easily). You have a set time to do whatever you want, you can move, attack, use items, whatever, anything you do depletes your ‘Action Gauge’, but stopping will stop the depletion (unless you get attacked, in which case it continues to deplete).

Enemies are the same, they have a Health bar and Action bar above them so you can see if they are about to attack you or not. The ‘Hero Action’ allows for extended time while allowing you to run great distances and avoid damage from enemy attacks (you can essentially double the time you have to act, allowing to build massive gauges). PRO TIP: Jump at the very end of your ‘Hero Action’ to get an extra second in there, this can help get those few extra charges to get the kill.


Other

Gauge strength depends on your weapon level. Unlike most RPGs, your level is the sum of your Handgun, Machine Gun and Explosive skills (all which can max out at 100), so you can easily level up even if you’re level 100 by switching to a different weapon (as each weapon has its own experience requirement and does not rely on the others, i.e. a level 99 Handgun will require 1,000,000 exp to level up, where as a Machine Gun at level 1 will only require 500). So you can easily level the Machine Gun up at high levels and therefore, level your character as well.

As your weapons level up, the amount they can charge also increases  (a level 10 gun can charge 10 times, level 20 can charge 20 times, etc) and also enable the use of skills. Skills are unlocked upon reaching a certain weapon level and can only be used if they charge reaches that level, so if a skill is unlocked at Handgun level 20, your charge must reach 20 to use it. Skills range from an increased chance to launch enemies to higher damage.

Experience is earned based on the damage inflicted on enemies, you don’t get exp just for killing (or at all technically). If a Machine Gun user inflicts a total of 2,000 damage, they get 2,000 exp on the spot (not at the end of the fight), and same goes for the Handgun and Explosives user. There are ways to increase the exp earned through items and things called ‘Terminals’.

‘Terminals’ are simple spots on the map that give you bonus effects in battle, these range from 1.5x EXP, to Double Charge Rate and to Double Rare Item Drop, and can even be linked to allow all of these effects in one battle. Of course, they require a bit of effort to use effectively, and some terminals grant these bonuses to the enemy as well.

The Overworld

One very unique aspect of Resonance of Fate is the ability to customize your guns; this allows you to take a weak and slow gun and affix sights, clips, grips and additional barrels to make them effective weapons of death. The process can be intimidating to those who suck at Tetris, but for those who are good at the game, you’ll be able to affix a half dozen sights, 3 or 4 additional barrels and a couple of extra grips to make you guns stupid fast when charging (this is important later in-game).

An example of a fully customized Machine Gun, allowing
for massive charge in a short amount of time

At some point early on, you’ll unlock the Arena; anyone who’s played an RPG already knows what that entails. For those unaware, the Arena pits you against various combinations of enemies and you fight, simple. Resonance has 50 ranks, getting much tougher the higher you go (duh), after a victory you get a bit of cash and coins that you use in the Arena to purchase rare and helpful items, such as a scope for you gun that increases Charge Speed by 75 and gives you 4 more slots for more power, a must have.

As with most RPGs these days, you can play a New Game+ which you can do on the same difficulty with all your gear (minus key items) or a harder one at the cost of all your items and weapons; there are 16 (yes SIXTEEN) difficulties (only 1 when you first play) and the enemies get stronger as you get weaker, but they do offer more exp to compensate. However since there is no real reason for this extra strain (no extra scenes, no better gear, etc), there’s no reason to play it past the standard difficulty.


Achievements

A good chunk of the achievements will be earned through natural progression, but the rest will require extensive grinding to unlock. The toughest, or most time consuming anyway, being to max every Arena battle. To max a battle, you must beat it 10 times, there are 50 battles so that means you'll be doing at least 500 fights in the Arena alone.


Overall

Resonance of Fate is a great breath of fresh air not only into the RPG genre, but into the stale number of RPGs offered on the Xbox 360, anyone who enjoys RPGs, witty back and forth conversations or anything that borders the insane, should check this game out.

8.5/10.0

Pros

- A great new addition to the RPG line-up
- Great voicing with an excellent script
- Fun and challenging combat
- Possibly one of the best openings ever (don't press 'Start' at the title screen)

Cons

- Combat can feel rather tedious if you're in one area for too long
- Not as many weapons as I'd like
- Story doesn't really take off till the end