Summoner
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
THQ
Developer
Volition
Genre
RPG
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence and Blood
Grade
The Good

• Pseudo-real time combat system is refreshing
• Areas are immense
• Tons of NPCs to interact with
• Numerous mini-quests

The Bad

• Insane loading times
• Poor map system
• Graphics can be ugly at times

 
Grade
C

Summoner starts with the tale of Joseph, a young man who as a boy summoner a monster to save his village from attackers, only to have the monster run amok, killing friend and foe. From that point, he swore never to use his power. That is, until his current village is sieged by soldiers looking for him and he must flee to find Yago, a man who would help him learn how to use his summoning power.

While this may sound like a clichéd beginning, it really lays out the groundwork for a fairly deep and involving game that can be as long or short as you like. Entering a city can lead to hours of walking around, talking to people. Certain people will have tasks that they will ask you to perform. What's nice about this is that if you succeed at these tasks, your character will get experience and gold, which allows the player not to spend all of their time finding battles to fight. Also, once a new level is attained, skills can be leveled up at the player's own choosing.

Cities are immense, often involving multiple areas from which the player can walk around, investigating. Also, people with important things to say have different speech bubbles from the rest of the rabble, allowing the player to choose whether or not to speak to whomever they please.

Summoner's combat system is a refreshing change from the tried and true turn-based. Not totally real-time, the player moves around in the environment, attacking enemies with his team. While the player controls only one person at a time, the rest of his team acts automatically as instructed, allowing the player to use strategy in defeating enemies.

With so much going for Summoner, it seems to stumble, failing to come across at the great RPG it should be. The main sore spot is the graphics. At times, areas and backgrounds can look great and even impressive. The graphics for the characters, though, are another thing altogether. In a blunt word, they're ugly. Most of the cast looks as though it's suffering from the plague. Another sore spot is the almost painful pop-in of the backgrounds. This is not usually something I would care about if it weren't so painfully obvious. Buildings and faraway NPCs have a manner of showing up the closer you move to them. The worst case of this is in the Lenele wharf where you walk away from the docks only the have the castle instantly appear out of nowhere. Also, loading times between areas are insanely long. The last time I waited so long between areas was for Diablo, and that was a randomly generated dungeon.

Speaking of Diablo... Anyone who's played that game will probably find this one visually familiar. It's quite obvious that this game was at least visually and conceptually based on Diablo and it's counterparts.

All in all, Summoner is not a bad game. It actually has some good ideas and potentially could have been a great start on a new system. The problem is that it suffers from what may seem like a lack of production. When a game pauses and tells the player that it's having trouble with the DVD information, you know that something's up. I hope that something similar to this will come out in the next year will all of the inherent problems resolved.

Note: People who have played Dungeons and Dragons might want to at least rent this for the hidden footage when a player exits the credits screen. A handful of characters from the game are playing an all-too-exact game of D&D, complete with characters arguing over what spells they cast and other players asking "Am I in the room?" from the kitchen.

- - kinderfeld

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