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September 7 2007
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Raidou Kuzunoha vs the Soulless Army - PS2 Review
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1920's Japan looks great.
The Shin Megami Tensei series of RPGs is one that has received a lot of praise in recent years, but still remains in the regions of obscurity. Far from uninspired, the games have, until now, followed a fairly similar formula of the traditional Jap-RPGs. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - Raidou Kuzunoha vs the Soulless Army (to give the game its full title) is here to change that, taking on real-time combat instead of the traditional turn-based combat. Is the change for the better, or is this the console equivalent to TVs decision to scrap decent programming in favour of reality TV?

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Graphics are pretty nice.
While the story takes a while to get going, itís neither dull nor amazing. You play Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th, a detective with a special ability to see demons in the world. Set in an alternate-reality Japan in the late 1920s, people live in the world with demons Ė who are invisible to all but a few. Raidou is one of these few. Working for the paranormal department of his detective agency, Raidou is charge to investigate a rather unusual kidnapping, and so begins this long conspiracy story.

As with all other Shin Megami Tensei games, Devil Summoner is definitely a RPG. What makes it unique to its brethren is that there is a lot more action/adventure in this game than any of the others. In particular, the combat system is a very real-time based one. You still have random encounters, and you still relocate to a battle field, but when you fight your enemies, itís in real-time, and all your demons, which you control, fight in real-time beside you.

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Damn those demons?!
Another element borrowed from the action/adventure genre is that rather than traditional RPG-like quests, much of the game revolves around searching areas for clues and so on, then trying to decide where to go next. As a result, players will often have to backtrack and return to previous areas to get more information, interrogate more NPCs, and so on. However, there are times where RPG fans will be satisfied with dungeon-crawling and the like, and besides the above exceptions, the game definitely feels like an RPG through and through.

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The tentacle whip lashes out!
The mix of traditional RPG and action/adventure is done nicely enough, and works as we had hoped, but it is not without its share of problems. Combat very quickly becomes dull and repetitive. Likewise, we got quite bored with all the information-gathering and back-tracking needed to advance the plot. These things, combined with the fact that the story is somewhat long-winded and slow to get going made it very hard to keep playing this game for quite a few hours. Once it picked up it got a bit better but it never quite reached our expectations. Technically, there is very little wrong with the game though, so well done there Atlus.

Graphically, Devil Summoner looks very nice. The anime-style suits it nicely and while not particularly flashy or effect-heavy, there are never any issues with frame rate or slowdown. Itís pretty much what we have come to expect from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise here and it wouldnít have been the same any other way.
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Yet another screen full of stats.
Likewise, audio is nicely suited, with a great soundtrack setting the tone for the game all throughout. Unfortunately, there is no voice acting and while it doesnít damn the game, it is quite disappointing. An upside of this is that the text-only translation into English hasnít got any corny accent on it. So maybe itís for the best?

Devil Summoner is a great RPG to fill the current void with. It wonít live up to some of the other games that have come out in previous years, but with its unique blend of RPG and action/adventure gameplay, itís bound to entertain more than a few gamers out there. A slightly long-winded story, a slow pace at first, and some repetitive locations/fighting hurt the scores a fair bit, but thereís still no reason to ignore this one if you get a chance!

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

GRAPHICSNothing flashy here, but it looks nice and is well-suited to the game.
SOUNDNo voiceovers is a little annoying, but a great soundtrack helps bring it back up to a nice overall experience.
GAMEPLAYSome parts of the game get very repetitive, and there are way too many random encounters, but itís certainly unique in a good way.
VALUEPlenty of game time here, but thatís about it. No reason to replay.
OVERALLItís a decent enough game that most gamers will enjoy, but SMT fans are the only ones who are really going to love Devil Summoner.

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