Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Look Ahead - Phantasy Star Online 2

Now, after the praise I've showered on Phantasy Star Online (through Phantasy Star Portable 2's praise), it should come as no surprise that the announcement of Phantasy Star Online 2 at E3 was one of the highlights for me, even though I may have neglected to mention it.  Basically, the only issues with it so far is that A) it's for PC, and B) until recently, that's all we knew.  So now that some info has come out, I think we can overlook the first deficiency and talk about it for a bit.  (Well, apparently this information was known at announcement?  I missed it.)

Anyways!  I should let the recently shown off Concept Movie explain the changes, and I'll recap after.

Good show, Sega.

Er, anyways, probably the biggest new thing that was pointed out in the movie is the fact that you'll be able to jump.  And not only jump, but jump attack.  That's two different innovations at the same time.  They're learning, I suppose.  There's something distinctly awkward about thinking about Phantasy Star Online with jumping, since it wasn't in any game as a function to this point, but I'm sure it'll work out.  I'm certainly not adverse to being able to jump in a game, even if it takes over rolling as a basic function.  Though, I'm sure we'll still be able to roll as well.  (I'm trying to remember if Rolling was even in PSO, and I'm not sure.  I don't think so.)

Something else that'll be quite noticeable is the inclusion of other NPCs in the field.  Apparently, you can sometimes come across 'mini-events' in the field, some of which would be, like running into another party of folks (I'm guessing NPCs, though maybe Parties of PCs) and joining forces.  Up to twelve characters can be in the same field at once time, which is more than the 4 standard for every game from PSO on.  This one'll be much more tolerable, I'm sure, and it might even just mean that if you have five friends, you won't have to shuffle people around, or form two teams of three and just imagine how cool it would be if you were all playing together, as in previous times.

Apparently, the guns in the game will offer a more traditional Third-Person Shooter aiming system instead of a stand and aim or walk and point in the same direction, hoping to hit (or lock on and hit) system, which, again, will be an awkward, but welcome change.  At some point we all have to remember that Nostalgia is nice and all, but good gameplay is something that's first and foremost important to the lot of us, and what good gameplay is changes faster than any of us really realize.  But once it's sufficiently outdated, it becomes a little painful to really return to.

I should say one of the more impressive changes would be the in-depth character creator.  If there's anything the Phantasy Star Online/Portable/Universe games have been good about, it's about offering ways to make your character yours, though some quite less so than others.  (Looking at you, Phantasy Star Zero.  Stupid Template builds.)  PSO's was good, PSP2's was good, and it looks like PSO2 intends on blowing them both out of the water; if what appearances let on, of course.  While fairly few people actually want to sit down and spend hours painstakingly crafting a character, as if from marble, to get the perfect visage at least the option to do so is there.  Honestly, character creation has been rather nice in recent games from what I've noticed, so this isn't so much of a surprise.

Thankfully (or not), Phantasy Star Online 2 isn't scheduled to be out anytime soon, as they haven't even entered Alpha Testing yet, (or if they have, it's fairly recent) so I have plenty of time to try and get my hands on a computer that will play this.  And in the meantime, I can hope upon hope that it won't be subscription-based, as I'm not actually sure if I'm capable of playing a Pay-Per-Month game; if simply because my gaming tastes tend to shift and I can't see myself finding the playtime value in a game.  What amount of gaming hours constitutes $14.99 a month (the figure that comes to my mind, at least, for pay/month subs), after all?  Everyone's opinion on that will vary, and it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately with Star Wars:  The Old Republic looming.  But that's a different story for a different post.

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