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Nephlabobo
09-06-2006, 07:08 AM
My half assed reviews thread got erased - probably for good reason. So I decided to do a real review thread since I have nothing else to do at work. This review s a rough draft - I'll be adding some pics and stuff later.

And I'll be reviewing Shadow of Memories (for Alucard) sometime soon.


Review - Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne (PS2)

SMT is an rpg put out by Atlus in Japan. This is the first of the SMT series to come out of Japan, which is both good and bad - good that we finally get an SMT game and bad that it took so long, seeing as the series has been around since the days of the original NES. Some of you may know the Persona series which was released (and butchered) for the PS1. Persona is a spin-off of the SMT series.

The SMT release for North America/Europe is the re-released version that came out in Japan, with some bug fixes (I believe) and some extra dungeons and bosses - including one very famous character.

The basic premise of SMTN is the antithesis of pretty much every other RPG out there. Instead of saving the world, the world gets destroyed in the first 15-20 minutes of the game. During the destruction of the world, you meet a creepy looking couple who turn you into a demon because you happen to be in the right place at the right time. From thereon, your goal is to remake the world, how you see fit.

There are several different factions that are all competing for something called Magatsuhi, which is the energy needed to create the new world. You have a choice of joining one of these factions (two of which are your former friends who have also been turned into demons) or going alone. Several different events in the game affect your alignment, depending on what you choose to say during these events. Your alignment at the end of the game decides which ending you'll see, and there are several. A nice incentive to play through the game more than once.

On top of that, there is an extra dungeon included in this version of the game called the Calpa, which has five levels. You meet an old dude early in the game who wants you to find and kill the demi-fiends in the game and make it to the bottom of the Calpa for him.

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n218/boomboomsatellites/L2.jpg

Seeing as how you are a demi-fiend also, it turns out this is just a sick experiment to see who's the strongest. On top of that, he's hired a killer to take out the strongest demi-fiend for him so he can get to the bottom of the dungeon himself - that killer is Dante from Devil May Cry. On top of THAT - the old dude is Lucifer. Dante has been working for the devil. DOH.

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n218/boomboomsatellites/d1.jpg

Gameplay:

SMT is a little different from most other RPGs. Instead of meeting different characters and having them join your party, you recruit demons. This can be done a manner of different ways, depending on your skills.

Each demon in your party (including you) has a set number of skills they can learn.
The demons learn them by levelling up. You learn your skills by levelling up and ingesting something called Magatama, which are the things that the creepy couple shoved down your throat when the world ended. Each Magatama lets you learn a certain skill (IE Fire based spells etc) and gives you physical enhancements or weaknesses to something (IE Weak fire/Null Cold). Luckily, you can switch these at any time once you have them, depending on the situation and what skill you want to learn. It's sort of like ingestible armour.

As I said, you learn skills by fighting - and you do a hell of a lot of it. This game, at certain points, is a real dungeon crawler. The encounter rates are high (almost as high as Skies of Arcadia for DC) and some battles are tough, especially if you're not prepared. A regular random battle can wipe you out in the blink of an eye. I died frequently on my first play through because I was often completely unprepared for the area I was going into. So there's a lot of levelling up involved.

The flipside of levelling is negotiation. You can recruit demons into your party by talking to them or sometimes gain useful items or info from them. Somtimes it's really easy, and sometimes it's a pain in the ass. If you have an abundance of demons in your party, you can fuse them and make new ones. A little bit like Monster Rancher or Pokemon in that respect but more fun because they're evil, blood-thirsty demons.

Combat is pretty typical RPG fare, in that it's turn-based attacks, and with the high encounter rates, it can sometimes get monotonous. The developers kindly put an auto function on for battles so you can set your guys on killing someone while you go get a drink, take a leak or whatever.

The graphics are ..... cool. That's the only way to describe them. They're good for a two year old PS2 game, but it's the style that really sets them apart. The game is cel shaded but doesn't look like a cartoon - I've heard this described as "Tron done as a horror" - and it's not far from the truth.

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n218/boomboomsatellites/Tr1.jpg

There are some really neat looking environments in this game. And massive. Massive, massive buildings. Plus because this takes place in a ruined Tokyo, there are some real locations re-created for the game. It's near seeing the ones I've actually been to (like Shibuya and Asakusa)

Overall the camera is quite good and you can move it around at your leisure with the shoulder buttons. Character movements are a bit stiff, but not really a big deal. The character designs have a nice variety and there's a nice contrast between cute (like Jack Frost) and scary (like the Loa)

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n218/boomboomsatellites/Loa.jpg

The music is a bit of a mixed bag. Most of it is really good but you'll get sick of the battle themes because you'll hear them so much. (Though the Calpa dungeon has a really good battle theme) Some of the "music" in the game is nothing more than drones or low tones - similar to the style of groups like Coil or Scorn. If you like that style, (I do) then you're golden. Some may not appreciate it, which I can understand.

This game has no voice acting whatsoever, so I hope you like reading text. For those people who hate sitting through long spouts of text or cut scenes, it's not too torturous. It's interspersed fairly well through the game and nowhere near as long as games like Xenosaga.

Finally, a word about the rating. It earns its M in every respect. There's strong language in the game as well lots of violence. :D As far as the content goes, there are a fair amount of religious references throughout the game, via the demons, the Calpa (you collect Menorah to progress to each level) and even the Magatama. (They name names like Beelzebub and Lucifer). There is a fair amount of philosophical discussion through the game about good and evil as well, so it's not something you're just going to hand to a 12 year old.

Nindalf
09-06-2006, 07:16 AM
http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15240

"Gimme til Monday" is a very appropriate last post in a thread that died in last December.

Nephlabobo
09-06-2006, 07:19 AM
Go look at Carl's thread.

Besides - that was the HALF - ASSED review thread. You didn't expect me to do it did you?