Enchanted Arms

Monday 7 August 2006
This RPG follows the Final Fantasy formula rigidly. But what a formula it is: a dramatic narrative, fastidiously detailed backdrops, technically astonishing magical effects, a sprawling sense of scale and a cast of doe-eyed gender-confused heroes.

And while these are the same familiar ideas and ideology that have driven turn-based adventures for years, they again make Enchanted Arms compelling beyond the boundaries of its orthodoxy and unoriginality.

You see, while the grid-based combat is also archly traditional, there is still space for innovation and invention. Learning not to fight fire with fire adds depth, as does the chance to combine attacks, forcing you to rotate the elemental warriors in your party to suit each encounter.

At the same time, a declining stamina bar ensures that your whole party needs to be carefully nurtured instead of merely concentrating on a trio of levelled-up heroes, so you become the Claudio Ranieri of RPGs, rotating your team of humans and up to 100 collectable and slightly Pokemon-like Golems.

To ensure that each of the 40-odd hours of play aren't taken up with micro-management or random battles, a nifty automatic fighting system, the ability to save anywhere and a fast forward option let you concentrate on seeing more of the sumptuous worlds and oddball cast.