After a very long wait, another RPG has appeared on the Xbox market - Sudeki. Some have said that this is little more than a hold-over title until the greats like Fable and KotOR:II come out. Is it? Well, here's my 60 minute (and just a bit more) impressions:
To be very blunt, this is the best part of the game by far. The world is vibrant, colorful, filled with polygons, and detailed. People run around the towns, and they all seem to be different from one another. No attack of the clones here.
The character models are large and expressive, and are detailed enough to zoom in for closeups during the 'talking heads' sequences and still look quite good. Mouths will move in pretty close sync with the speech as well.
During combat, you'll face the clones (like in most all RPGs). Special effects are used in abundance with every hit, and when you kill your opponents, they explode into a pool of blood and body parts. I thought I was playing a Mortal Kombat game after my first opponent fell to my blade.
The game opens with a decent looking CGI movie, but it looked like it was a slightly enhanced in-game engine movie instead of a CGI masterpiece like Namco or Square.
The frame-rate seems to be locked at either 30 or 60fps (can't really tell yet), and while I've seen a few bits of slowdown already, I don't know if it's a problem yet. The game also supports Progressive Scan natively.
Whoo boy. First off, the music is pretty standard RPG fare from my listening in the first hour. I didn't find any songs that stood out, but I didn't find any that were grating to the ear either.
What I did find that wanted me to mute the game was the voices. To use the old PC terms, this game is a full talky, which means that every single line of text in the entire game is spoken (with a scrolling text box at the bottom if you mute your TV). This is a very uncommon thing in an RPG. In fact, I can't think of a RPG in recent memory that did this.
However, there is a reason why you don't see this - the lack of quality voice actors. You know that Rare (now owned by Microsoft) uses voice actors drawn from their pool of employees, right? Sudeki does the exact same thing, but unlike Rare (where the voice actors tend to be actually good), these voices, well, suck.
I immediately hated the voice given to one of your female party members (and I haven't even gotten her in my party yet), and the voices of the other three in your crew (of which I also haven't gotten) aren't any better. Hopefully things will improve, but I honestly doubt they will.
Like Tales of Destiny on the Gamecube, Sudeki is best described as an Action/RPG. All combats will take place on the world map you run around in, with nary a load time short of enemies 'beaming' in. Yes, they actually teleport in all around you.
Combat is a twitch-fest, but with some stragety. The two melee fighters (of which I've only gotten the 'hero') are capable of 3 hit combos right off the start, which are governed by a small box in the corner of the screen. Hit the next button while the box is glowing, and you continue the combo. Unfortunately I've seen exactly two good combos, both of which allow you to extend that 3 hitter into a 6 one, also striking everything in your general area in the process. Hopefully I won't use that move over and over the entire game, but it honestly looks like I will.
You also have a slew of special skills (and magic, eventually) to choose from. When you want to use one of your powers (or go into your inventory to drag out a healing item), the game slows down dramatically, ala The Matrix. It doesn't give you unlimited time to think, but it's slow enough that you have plenty of time to choose what you want without feeling rushed.
As far as combat goes in general though, I really don't like it. Tales of Destiny for the Gamecube seemed to give you far more control of battle right off the bat. It also is a ton more fun, and even faster-paced than this game.
Sudeki is a pretty looking game, with a very poor set of voice actors, and a combat engine that while looks entertaining, I don't know if it'll keep my interest during the course of the game. Will things improve as I move forward? I sure as heck hope so. The first hour was not that all impressive.