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Shining Force Neo
Platform: PS2
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Genre: Action RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 10/18/05
Japan 03/24/05
Official Site: English Site



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Just another day in the market
 
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Another one bites the dust.
 
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I sure hope that attack works
 
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I believe that would be forty-six damage, sir!
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Mike Wilson
First Look Preview
10/03/05
Mike Wilson

If you've been following the Shining series, then you know that there hasn't been a new "Shining Force" title in almost 7 years. The release of Shining Tears earlier this year took the series in a more action-oriented direction and away from the strategy genre that fans had come to know and love. Fans of Shining Tears will be happy to know that Shining Force Neo is taking the series even further down the action road.

For an action RPG, Shining Force Neo excels in terms of storytelling. The game is chock full of narrative, and there are more cutscenes and spoken dialogue than you can shake a stick at. You will follow the story of Max, a 17 year old who has joined the Force army to defend his city. Max is eager to prove himself to his commander in battle and he gets the perfect opportunity to show off his skills when monsters attack. Fortunately, he impressed his commander and is sent back to his hometown to complete his training and to find out what happened to his older brother, Cain. As he completes his training and begins his search, he gets mixed up in a series of events that will change the fate of the world.

What distinguishes Shining Force Neo from the other Shining Force titles is the real time battle system, which has much more in common with Shining Tears and Shining Soul than the games of old. Instead of party battles, you can only control Max. He can equip four types of weapons: one handed swords, two handed swords, bows, and staves. Max can also use magic, special abilities (called Force), and items. Each of these commands can be mapped to a button on the controller for quick use, which is good because the action never stops.

You won't be alone, though. Max will be assisted in battle by two computer-controlled characters. They can be offensive, defensive, or supportive depending on their class and how you equip them. You'll need all the help you can get, since it's not uncommon to see dozens of enemies on the screen at one time. So far, the AI looks sound, and appears more responsive than the AI in Shining Tears.

Surprisingly, the visuals in the game are deeper than they let on. There will be over 45 minutes of animated cutscenes which were done by Studio 4C Animations, which produced the Animatrix. Many of its staff members were also once a part of Studio Ghibli, famous for anime titles such as "Princess Mononoke" and "Spriggan." With Studio 4C holding down the fort, visual connoisseurs will have a hard time complaining.

Shining Force Neo may be just the RPG to keep action fans tied over until Kingdom Hearts 2 arrives next year. The game strives to improve where Shining Tears failed, and fans of the Shining series should pick it up. The game offers a 35 hour quest, and is due on shelves this month.



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