Posted on August 8, 2007,

Eternal Sonata Demo Impressions

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For the longest time, the Xbox console series has been noted for quality shooters and sports titles, but no real “must-have” RPGs. The Xbox360 seems poised to change that, with the release of a few A-list titles over the next few months. As we reported earlier, one of the most anticipated of these, “Eternal Sonata” hit Xbox Live as a demo earlier today. With all this hype, is it worth the space on your hard drive? Let’s find out.

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Story: With a storyline as abstract as Eternal Sonata’s is, (You are in a dream world created by real-world famous composer Frederic Chopin hours before his death) it is really hard to get a sense for the true nature of the plot. With the “dream world” aspect of the story, it seems that Eternal Sonata has a much softer edge to it than your traditional Final Fantasy title.

Sound: Excellent. Composer Motoi Sakuraba slides from melodic harmonies to upbeat orchestral numbers with ease, and if you listen carefully, you can hear some of Chopin’s famous classical works intermingled into the soundtrack. The music is a large part of the story, and it even has effects on your battle abilities, so it was important that they get it right. It looks like they may have done just that.

Graphics: There are some visually stunning set pieces in there, with some neat lighting effects over the cel-shaded characters. My only concern here is the lack of depth in the animations. While certainly not horrible, the animation of the attacks and movements just seem a little dated. Hopefully Namco can get this sorted out before release, as the transitions from various forms of animation could use more polish. Other than the animation issues, the overall look of the graphics is just fantastic.

Combat: The best way to describe it is Kingdom Hearts meets Final Fantasy. You control the actions of each character one at a time, in turn format, but the actual control during that turn is more in line with an action title. You have 8 or so seconds to run over or away from the enemy, at which point you execute button combos or contextual attacks until time runs out, then another member of your party does the same thing. It may seem to be a shallow system at first, but with contextual defense and attacks abilities that can vary based on the current music playing, there is a lot of depth to be uncovered here.

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So should you download it? Well, Eternal Sonata certainly appeals to anyone who enjoys RPGs. Eternal Sonata has a lot of throwback feel to some of the PS2 classics, with some brand new innovations for the next-gen format. I would say that while the game does many things differently, it still remains a hardcore RPG that may be hard for the regular halo-loving shooter fan to get used to.

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1 Comment on Eternal Sonata Demo Impressions

Norbit

On September 11, 2007 at 12:02 pm

It seems this wasn’t actually a 360 exclusive after all:

http://www.namcobandaigames.com/games/eternalsonata/