E3: Namco Bandai Games America Shows It Off
07.12.07 - 8:43 PM

While Namco Bandai Games America didn't make any massive announcements at this year's E3 Expo, they were showing off many of this fall's upcoming RPGs, from .hack//G.U. vol. 3//Redemption, to their upcoming Xbox 360 exclusive, Eternal Sonata. While there weren't any new RPGs announced, we were happy to sit down and play around with five of Namco Bandai's latest titles.

Most notable was the final iteration in CyberConnect 2's .hack//G.U. series, vol. 3//Redemption. Wrapping up the cycle of games, Redemption returns with the Random Area Words gamers saw in the previous titles. With two new cities, many more AI NPCs to interact with, as well as an expanded e-mail, forum, and news system, Redemption is slated to be much more engrossing than either of the first two .hack//G.U. titles. Redemption also features twenty-two party members while questing, almost double from the previous title. Haseo also gains new weapons and a new form in the last third of his story. He now has the ability to wield gunblades, giving him a long range attack, and has a new form called the Xth form.

Haseo can use these new abilities in the two new dungeon typed added specifically for Redemption. For those who are looking to get more bang for their buck, on the other hand, the Forest of Pain will fill that role. After players complete the main story, this 100-level dungeon will open up, and is much more difficult than any dungeon in the .hack series, living up to its name. .hack//G.U. vol.3//Redemption is slated for release in September.

Namco Bandai's other big RPG is their Xbox 360 blockbuster Eternal Sonata. While editor Dennis Rubinshteyn delved a little deeper into the title last month, we had a new chance to play around with a near-final version of the battle system, which is a hybrid real-time/turn-based system. Players are limited by time, but are able to select their targets without starting their turn timer. Players will chain together attacks to create more powerful special moves, and if a player reaches twenty-four consecutive attacks in their Echo Meter, they're able to create a Harmony Chain, a string of up to six special attacks to annihilate an enemy. One of the unique things about the free-roaming battle maps is that enemies will shift and change based on whether or not they're in the dark or the light. Not only that, but the player's special abilities will shift depending on whether or not they find themselves shrouded in shadow.

For a more in-depth look into Eternal Sonata, check out Dennis' preview of the game, and watch for its release exclusively on the Xbox 360 in September.

Namco Bandai's next two titles aren't exactly targeted toward hardcore RPG fans, but are viewed, rather, as introductions to the genre. Both Digimon World Data Squad for the PS2 and the two versions of the DS Digimon World, Dawn and Dusk, were being shown off. Digimon World Data Squad shadows the upcoming anime series of the same name, allowing players to command their favorite Digimon, as well as digivolve them into different creatures. The Galaxy Evolution screen looks much like a star chart and is far from linear, so itís not as if there will always be one Digimon that is directly superior to another. Most interesting is the fact that the battle system doesnít simply list commands that a Digimon can take. The Digimon will have preferences on which moves it wants, and will display what it wants to do on a hex grid covering the screen. The more a particular command appears, the more the Digimon wants to use it, and the more powerful the move will be.

Digimon World: Dawn and Digimon World: Dusk follow Team Dawn and Team Dusk, respectively, as they battle each other over a misunderstanding, thinking the other team has stolen something precious to both. With almost five hundred Digimon available, as well as a battle system that prizes positioning as well as strategy, Digimon World: Dawn and Dusk should satiate DS gamersĀEneeds this fall.

Last, but certainly not least, Namco Bandai Games America was showing off Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology for the PSP. Slated for release in a few short weeks, Radiant Mythology follows a character created by the player, fully customizable. Featuring a free-roaming battle system, somewhat similar to the one seen in Tales of the Abyss for the PS2, players will encounter characters not only unique to Radiant Mythology, but from other Tales of... games as well. Players will join a guild run by Kratos from Tales of Symphonia, although Namco Bandai wouldn't let us progress very far beyond the beginning of the game to see any characters beyond Raine from Symphonia and Luke from Abyss. If PSP gamers are looking for something to satiate their Tales of... needs, they should definitely check out Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology.


John McCarroll