Sometimes it's just too hard to try to do things all alone. Take, for example, Joseph, who is on a quest to find some ancient rings. As a summoner--a type of sorcerer who can conjure creatures out of the ether and make them do his bidding--Joseph has the luxury of calling in a little reinforcement help when things get a little too hot. However, the summoner has had some bad luck using these special powers in the past. As a result, he has to be especially judicious in summoning. Thankfully, not all of his help comes via incantation; along the way he'll run into others who can join him in his mission. Summoner, one of the first role-playing games for the PS2, includes a multiplayer party-based mode.
Summoner highlights all of the reasons that many publishers steer clear of the role-playing game (RPG) genre. Most RPGs are heavy on text, light on adventure, and thus--for most gamers--boring.
The setup to Summoner's sweeping story line is so slow at the beginning that anything good that comes later in the game is masked completely. As the story begins, you play as Joseph, a young gent who has vowed never again to use his summoning powers. This is because a demon he had summoned previously to protect his village actually burned it down and killed everyone he loved. Those who stick through this heavy exposition will be rewarded with a twisting, nonlinear plot.
The environments are carefully designed, built, and textured to convey a grand sense of scale and color. The castle's courtyard, for example, is a great place to visit--its booths and caravans are festooned with colorful cloths and coverings. The place is abuzz with people, many of whom want to chat and share information with you. The castle itself is immense, and dwarfs everything and everyone around it. The game's graphical splendor is cut somewhat short, however, by draw-in problems that give it a terribly disjointed look.
Summoner's combat system is pretty cool. The idea is to chain your attacks by pressing the controller's D-pad while your sword blow is being delivered. A little chain icon appears above your character's head and signals when to time your move. By chaining attacks, you can sustain your own offensive action, and make the attacks longer, more interesting, and a lot more fun. --Todd Mowatt
- Capable texturing gives the game a good, clean look
- Miniquests help make for deep gameplay
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- Severe draw-in problems give the game a terribly disjointed look