Project X Zone
E3 2013 Preview
"Just what happens when you combine large-scale SRPG battles, action-oriented strikes, and 27 franchises of characters?"

Slated for release in just two short weeks, Project X Zone (pronounced Project Cross Zone) could already be in your hands in the form of a demo from Namco Bandai. If you haven't yet been on the Nintendo eShop, Namco Bandai also had looks at a battle later in the game at their E3 booth this year. So just what happens when you combine large-scale SRPG battles, action-oriented strikes, and 27 franchises of characters? Something just a little bit over-the-top...

The first things to take note of are the pure basics from a numbers perspective: Project X Zone is huge. With over 200 characters representing those 27 franchises, there's more than a few ways to put together your battle party. And while only 50 of those characters are available in the playable pairs, the rest all have their place in Project X Zone. Pile on top of that the large number of units available in each battle, and the bang for your buck is certainly there in Project X Zone.

But just what are you doing fighting with characters from Sega, Namco Bandai, and Capcom franchises? The plot wasn't quite clear in the demo we played, and, well, it might just be better that way. Most of the dialogue we saw was not particularly impressive, but let's be honest — it's really difficult to put together a coherent plot when so many characters have to be included.

On the other side of the coin, it's easy to engage players when they're fighting with all of their favorite characters. Overall combat plays as expected — move units around a grid and fight your enemies and protect your allies. Each unit has a gauge that's charged by doing standard attacks and can be expended by counter-attacking or calling in allies. Do enough to get it raised to 100% and expect to see a screen-clearing special ability. When engaging an opponent, Project X Zone cuts to a separate screen which looks a little bit like every fighting game you've ever played.

Don't expect it to play just like Tekken, though, as these battles are not about special abilities but timing. Keeping your enemies juggled and attacking effectively is a must, but those who aren't skilled in kung-fu will be happy to know that attacks are pulled off with a single button press and a direction on the d-pad. Battles can stretch out for a while as attacks are countered, allies are summoned, and health is restored.

Project X Zone looks like it accomplishes its goal — provide an entertaining crossover game for fans of a wide variety of franchises. With its release on the 25th, 3DS owners don't have to wait too long to get their hands on this title. Crossing over in both gameplay and story, this just might make up for the fact that we never got Namco X Capcom.

© 2013 Namco Bandai, Monolithsoft. All rights reserved.

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