January 4, 2001
One genre that is almost always missing when a new system is launched is the RPG (Role Playing Game). Due to their size, developers rarely have enough time to fully develop and test the title, especially on new hardware and RPG's usually don't appear until months after launch. Volition, who have developed Decent: Freespace in the past, have been working on Summoner since July 1998 and have managed to complete the game in time for release only a few weeks after the Playstation 2 launch.
Summoner is a fantasy role-playing game set in a full 3D world which is inhabited by mystical creatures. A summoner is a person who can call forth demons, elemental creatures and servants with magic. Each summoner is born with a mark on their hands, although the reason for this has been long forgotten. This story follows Joseph who was born with the power to summon demons. He resented this power and tried to suppress it. However, when the armies of Orenia invade is lands Yago, Josephs mentor, urges Joseph to use his powers and search for the ancient Summoner's rings.
Along this journey Jospeh encounters 3 friends who decide to help him on his quest. The first friend is Flece who is a cunning thief and cynical rogue. The second friend is Jekhar whose family perished when Joseph summoned a demon long ago, and now the warrior seeks revenge. Begrudgingly, he helps Joseph on his quest. Finally, Rosalind is novice of the Order of Iona and yearns to become a mage-priest and guardian of Iona's divine scrolls. The daughter of Yago, Rosalind is jealous of Joseph's power and hates her father for devoting his life to the Summoner's cause. It may sound a little confusing, but it has all the ingredients for a classic RPG.
The attack system is also very important in an RPG. The developers have implemented a chaining system during the battle scenes. After you attack and enemy a symbol will flash on the screen briefly and if you are quick enough you can perform another attack. These attacks can be strung together so you could have 3, 4, 5, or more attacks in a row. Of course each character will have their own strengths and weaknesses, and these can also determine the success of your attacks.
Magic spells will also play a major part in Summoner. These allow you to attack the enemies from a distance with devastating effect. The effects are simply amazing and show off the Playstation 2 power to good effect. Hand-to-hand combat will also play a major part in your quest with battles using weapons such as knives and axes.
Graphically, Summoner looks absolutely amazing. This is one of the first games on the Playstation 2 that uses anti-aliasing which makes Summoner stand out from the crowd. The characters are well defined and the backgrounds are amazing. With several months before release there is still time for Volition to improve the game further. The final game is expected to run at 30fps, which is adequate for a RPG.
Summoner is one of the most impressive games on the Playstation 2. The graphics are certainly among the best seen on the system, and from all reports the gameplay is up to the task. Summoner looks like it will be an essential purchase for RPG fans on the Dreamcast. THQ have definitely made the right decision in acquiring not only this game, but the development team, Volition, as well.