PS2 REVIEW: ARC THE LAD: SPIRIT OF THE TWILIGHT

Proving that RPGs don't have to be as difficult to grasp as quantum physics, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits is a refreshing game that is straightforward, easy to follow and most importantly, it's fun.

The simplicity of the game stems from its focus which seldom wavers from the connecting rod of the storyline. There's not much in the way of side quests or sub plots which as we all know can end up as nothing more than a make-work project for some games. It's a fairly linear game but it really has lots of dimension in the areas that it does choose to highlight, most notably in the areas of personal development. The main characters wrestle with several philosophical issues. This is an all-new tale and it takes place a thousand years in the future from the events of the last game. Don't expect any of the same characters although some might make a special appearance if you wish hard enough.

Kharg and Darc are twin brothers and are heirs to the kingdom inhabited by humans. The world is divided between the humans and a monster race known as Deinos. The tension between the two factions is high and they're always on the verge of a full-blown war. The balance is further upset by Kharg who has a passion for battle that is fueled by his ignorance and paranoia. Darc is more reflective and although he's more sensitive and emotional, he is mindful not be guided by such forces. He gets involved in a love triangle which has serious implications on the development of the plot.

What starts out kind of slow soon builds to a soap opera of epic proportions. You will get to play as both brothers and they will eventually meet up later in the game. If the twisted plot is not enough to hold your interest then the battle system surely will. It's a blend of real-time and turn-based moves that allows you the freedom to move around and get into position before launching an attack. War style tactics can be used such as rear flanking or frontal attacks. When the animation begins, it's a thing of beauty.

Spirit of the Twilight uses spirit stones to access magic. It's not unlimited magic, you must have a required amount of stones to use certain spells but only until that spell runs out. The spirit stones can be awarded in battle or purchased in shops. It keeps you from relying too heavily on magic which can be a crutch. Collecting the stones may be a bit of a pain but the weapons are pretty darn effective and you won't find yourself at a serious disadvantage if you don't use magic all the time. The particle effects are gorgeous when a spell is used and that alone may cause you to seek more stones.

An old-world ambience reminiscent of Europe during the Renaissance is created here with cobblestone streets, windmills and quaint dwellings. The character models look a bit on the wobbly side as they undulate about as though they are in the process of melting. The body language is over the top with hand gestures that make them appear as though they're trying to fly. The voiceacting is handled in a much more subtle manner. Melodies seem to weave in and out of one's consciousness as the music simply directs one attention to the situation and not overpower it. Sound effects are about as good as they can get; I can't find anything to complain about in that department despite my attempts.

With such a cornucopia of RPGs available this year, Spirit of the Twilight may not be a contender for game of the year. If you're looking for a game that's just a bit more cerebral than the typical action adventure style of RPGs that are popular now, then you won't be disappointed with this purchase.

System: PS2
Dev: Cattle Call
Pub: Sony
Released: June 2003
Players: 1
Review by Shelby
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4
CONTROL
4
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
2