Outside of the bevy of upcoming games at the Square Enix booth, this E3 has been slim on RPG offerings for the console market. This was even more evident when RPGFan spoke with Sony Computer Entertainment about its RPG releases over the next few months.
The only 1st party RPG release from Sony for 2003 will be the 4th game in the acclaimed Arc the Lad series of strategy RPGs, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. Twilight of Spirits will feature 14 playable characters and over 60 hours of gameplay. This turn-based strategy RPG uses an entirely polygonal engine with an automated camera to keep the action in focus. The game also features an interesting combo system where characters are able to team-up for special attacks on single enemies.
The story of Twilight of Spirits centers on the exploits of two brothers, Kharg and Dark. As the separated children of a Deimos father and human mother, these brothers are as different as night and day. Kharg, the more human of the two, was raised by his mother and has sworn to protect the lands of man from the threat of the demon-like Deimos forces. Dark, on the other hand, proudly bears the scales, horns and wings of his paternal parent. In polar opposite of his brother, Dark fights for the Deimos forces. When these two finally meet and discover their origins, they must somehow overcome their differences to find the spirit stones scattered about the land to prevent the resurrection of an ancient evil.
Sony was quick to make note that while Twilight of Spirits takes place thousands of years in the future after the events of the first Arc the Lad, the game shouldn't be considered a sequel. Perceptive gamers, however, will be able to find more than one inference to the other games in the series. Arc the Lad: Twilight of Spirits will be available only on the PlayStation 2 in June this year.
While Sony Computer Entertainment had made the announcement that they would be publishing Square Enix’s upcoming MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI they were able to shed some light on this unique partnership. Final Fantasy XI will be a part of the PlayOnline service and will be managed by Square Enix. Sony’s responsibility, however, will be limited to publication of the title as well as release of the PS2 Hard Disc Drive (HDD) unit necessary to play the game. According to Sony, no specific plans for the PS2 HDD have been made outside of a confirmed release period. Contrary to popular rumor, Sony has not decided if they will sell FFXI bundled with the PS2 HDD unit or separately. They were adamant that however they decide to package the hard drive, the unit will be readily available when FFXI is released in the first quarter of 2004. No MSRP for the unit has been announced. Sony was unable to comment on plans to release the expansion, Vision of Jiraat, in North America.
Special thanks to Jenny Heller of Bragman Nyman Cafarelli for answering our questions on behalf of Sony Computer Entertainment.
Look forward to images and impressions on both of these titles and more as we continue to cover E3 2003.