Putting all of Resonance of Fate%26rsquo;s new ideas into words is impossible, so we%26rsquo;ll just say this: forget what you know about Japanese RPGs, because tri-ACE is changing the formula. For example, the overworld comprises dozens of floors, each with hundreds of hexagonal pieces, all encircling a giant tower. To navigate it, you earn jigsaw pieces to slot into greyed-out, impassable hexagons. Create a path to an elevator shaft and you%26rsquo;ll be able to visit a new floor %26ndash; but certain hexagons require specific jigsaw pieces, so you can%26rsquo;t ignore your main job and live off side-quests for too long.
The biggest departure from the JRPG norm is the combat. Handguns and sub-machine guns are hugely different from the usual swords and staffs, and have spawned a whole new fighting system. Resonance lets you shoot on the move, while jumping, or from behind cover. You can move freely, or set a path to follow and focus on firing.
Charging towards an enemy, leaping into the air and unloading your handguns into the bad guy with enough force to blow him right into the sky isn%26rsquo;t something you typically do in a JRPG. The action sequences are ridiculously stylish, making the battles unlike anything we%26rsquo;ve played before. The real time parts share similarities with PSOne title Vagrant Story, but not enough to call the games alike.
Those are the basics, and they%26rsquo;ll see you safely through the first few scraps. If you want to last the distance, however, you%26rsquo;ll do well to learn the bullet-charging techniques, the tag-team moves and the dozen-or-so other tricks our band of misfits have tucked up their sleeves. Your options are plentiful, and the importance of positioning your characters during and at the end of each turn adds a hint of RTS to each encounter.
There are three categories of weapons in total: handguns, machine guns and grenades. Balancing all three is the key to success. You have three characters, after all, and they can dual-wield weapons to improve firing rates. Handguns deal chunks of direct damage to opponents and have moderate rates of fire, while machine guns only dish out scratch damage, and your enemies will regenerate quickly. Grenades are great for mass destruction, but maintaining ammunition levels is troublesome.
Exploring Resonance%26rsquo;s towns is no different from traversing cities in any other JRPG, yet the overworld, the dungeons and the combat all provide a fresh experience. Thankfully, the confusing fights soon become second nature, provided you visit the tutorial at the start. So far Tri-Ace%26rsquo;s RPG offerings haven%26rsquo;t set this generation%26rsquo;s consoles alight, but with Resonance they%26rsquo;re definitely firing on all cylinders.
Feb 9, 2010