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August 20, 2005
Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call - Review
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Yep, its a Japanese RPG.
When Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call came up on Ubisoft's release schedules a couple of months ago I was pretty excited. A new Shin Megami Tensei title was to be released around the world. Pretty strange though that Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne hadn't been released outside America and Japan given that it was released there on October 14, 2004 (US) and February 27, 2003 (Japan). Then it dawned on me, this is that very title - renamed for god only knows what reason. Without a doubt Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call has one of the strangest storylines ever in a game, but its one which actually has you engrossed partially due to its uniqueness, partially due to the way its told.

In Tokyo, Japan, a high school student on his way to visit his teacher at the hospital meets a reporter who tells him a bizarre story about a recent clash in a local park, which the man believes is tied to the occult. After the strange run-in, the boy arrives at the hospital in Shinjuku only to discover that the hospital is empty and his teacher is nowhere to be found. After wandering around the deserted building, the boy encounters a mysterious man in the basement. Shortly after, from the rooftop, he witnesses a catastrophic event--the Conception. The earth shakes and a bright light engulfs everything on the horizon. When the boy awakens, he finds his appearance drastically altered. As he wanders the hospital halls, he comes to realize that he has been turned into a demon.

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The cut scenes are pretty nice.
In the aftermath of the destruction, the boy sets forth on a journey where he must battle against demonic forces to bring order to the chaos. The world awaits its rebirth, but will it ever be the same again? The Demonic forces have now invaded the Earth. The fate of the planet lies on the shoulders of one boy, who must battle his way through opposing demonic forces and shape the world to come... or destroy it. Set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the entire world’s population has been nearly almost totally annihilated by a global catastrophe called the Conception. In his quest, the young hero will face more than 100 different species of demons all of which can be recruited in your quest to build the most powerful team.

While the storyline in Lucifer's Call is rather detailed, and certainly quite strange, the game doesn't follow a strictly linear path. Indeed, depending on your choices while playing you may end up at one of six different endings and with the game taking around 50 hours to complete it's going to take a hell of a lot of play to see them all!

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Look folks, it's Dante!
Initially, and with most RPG's of this size and scale, the game seems a little daunting. It's not too long (in comparison to the overall length of the game) that things start to fall into place and the game starts to make sense on a gameplay level. Indeed there really is little here that could be called revolutionary, or even evolutionary, in the RPG genre, but what it does, it does well. During the game you will chase down over 100 different demons who then join your party. These will join your party in a variety of ways. Some can be bribed with a few items, others will join simply if you answer questions correctly. In a rather neat twist these can then be joined together to form even more powerful friends and also level up to more power forms. The combat is turn based but not too much different from your standard RPG with attacks, moves and magic all available. One cool feature is that by performing a certain attacks your party gains extra turns in the battle. The hero can also use the power of Magatama, living parasites that grant him with demonic powers.

One surprise in Lucifer's Call is the ability to play as Dante from Capcom's Devil May Cry series. Apparently the developers approached Capcom due to this games demonic themes and Dante, being a demon hunter, fitted in perfectly and approval was given for him to be used in this game.

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Now that's an enemy...
The game isn't perfect, there are some stretches where the pace could have been picked up a little and the battles aren't revolutionary in the slightest however as and RPG it's still one of the more impressive with some unique features and a storyline that will likely have your head spinning on more then one occasion.

RPG's generally aren't known for their jaw dropping visuals and Lucifer's Call won't break any new ground in that area either. Having said that, the game does have a visual style that must impress with the characters using a cel shading cartoon look. It never ceases to impress me when a developer uses visuals such as these. Unfortanately the animation on the characters is a little rough in places, but alr The cut scenes retain this style as they flesh out the storyline. Visual effects such as magic and spells also look impressive and to top it all off the developers have even included support for 60Hz mode.

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No voiceovers, it's text only.
As with the graphics the audio in Lucifer's Call won't be award winning, but it isn't bad either. In fact, it's probably in the upper end of Japanese RPG's in terms of effects and music. The first thing to get use to is that the game doesn't have any voice acting - not even during conversations or cut scenes. It was actually pretty jarring at first to go back to reading conversations, but it's not a bad thing, just takes some getting used to. The effects are also good however it's the music deserves a special mention - its high quality and fits into the game perfectly with its heavy rock themes.

Do yourselves a favour. Next time you are heading to the local games shop to buy another mindless movie tie-in, or slightly updated sports title do something strange. Ask the retailer for a copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call instead. Sure, you may have to write the name down on a bit of paper, but one thing is certain - this game deserves attention. Ubisoft deserve to be applauded for brining it to PAL territories, and supporting games such as this will help PAL gamers get more less mainstream titles. Hell, perhaps Namco may have brought out the original Katamari Damacy if we showed some interest in something different. Highly recommended.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Games Warehouse (PAL Version)
GRAPHICSIt's not the prettiest game ever, but it does the job pretty well.
SOUNDNo voice acting, but the music and effects rock big time.
GAMEPLAYIt's classic RPG styled action, plenty of spells and action.
VALUESix different endings makes this great value - and at a RRP of $79.95.
OVERALLFor one reason or another I approached this game with some trepidation. Who ever knew it was this good? (Actually, probably people that imported it!). Do yourselves a favour and check this game out - a sensational RPG. Thanks Ubisoft.

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