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Sudeki review

At last, an RPG for Xbox! But, asks GamesMaster, can it live up to the standard set by Final Fantasy?

One nerdy bloke, one girl over-blessed in the breast department, a muscle-head only too happy to whip out his sword on demand and a half-woman-thing in a thong. You'd be forgiven for mistaking Climax's first outing into RPG territory for last night's instalment of Big Brother.

It could also be confused with something that's not an RPG because, levelling up and magical attacks aside, Sudeki is as similar to Ratchet and Clank as it is to Final Fantasy. Turn-based battling is right out the window - it's real-time all the way. In fact, when you're fighting as characters Ailish or Elco, both armed with pistols and magical staffs, the view switches to first-person and it feels more like a first-person shooter than anything else. It's a real mix of styles.

To start with though, you're just in control of a young soldier called Tal - you recruit the rest of your crew of freaks later on. As Tal, you get to grips with the timing-reliant combo system, have a little chat with the locals (who sound like they come from Scotland, Jamaica and everywhere in between) and find out the point of your heroic adventuring (cue some very uninspiring dark creatures and shadow worlds stuff). It becomes clear quite early on that Sudeki is a very accessible RPG. Even if the idea of casting magical spells during combat and allocating points to a long list of stats usually leaves you wanting a snooze, it's so easy to do that it quickly becomes as intuitive as squeezing the right trigger for a headshot.

The combat gets even better once you're in control of more than one character. Tal is soon joined by Princess Ailish and you're able to switch between the two whenever you like. Ailish can use magic to see hidden items and dispel obstructions, while Tal is strong enough to move big objects, so switching is necessary for solving puzzles. With one skilled in melZe combat and the other in distance blasting, you end up playing primarily as the one whose fighting style you prefer. But later on, when you're joined by the rocket-packed Elco and tiger-clawed Buki, the four are always splitting off into different groups, so you're forced to master every fighting style and skill.

Fighting is done well and acquiring new skills and magic keeps it fresh, although the AI of some enemies is dodgy - they just keep mindlessly charging. The puzzles are challenging enough too, although there could do with being more of them.

Sudeki's biggest problem isn't the bad voice acting or by-numbers plot, it's the fact there's nearly always only one path to follow. When you talk to people, what you choose to say doesn't affect anything.

Sudeki is certainly fun to play and the Xbox is crying out for an RPG. But just as Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was an enjoyable but slightly two-dimensional platformer, Sudeki is its insubstantial RPG equivalent.

Sudeki weaves its spell over Xbox on 27 August

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