MS Saga: A New Dawn Preview
There are plenty of games that put you in command of a giant robot letting you slug it out with other large robots, but there aren't tons of RPG's that feature these giant mechanized beasts. MS Saga: A New Dawn is one such game, and it focuses on storytelling, interacting with tons of people, and of course customizing your Mobile Suit. The game is a PlayStation 2 exclusive, and it's due out sometime this February - though a solid release date has not been locked in.
MS Saga follows the exploits of two orphan teenagers, Tristan and Fritz who through bizarre circumstances come into possession of two mobile suits. Being an RPG, the story unfolds over time, so you never really know what is happening until the end. But, from what I've played so far, the two set off to avenge the death of Miss Natalie, a kind woman who ran the orphanage, and met her demise at the hands of some giant robots. If you've watched any anime at all, you know that nobody can stand in the way of a teenager determined to go off to battle, and the two head off to uncover exactly why their orphanage was destroyed. There's also the matter of a mysterious G System, which apparently is very powerful and can do great damage when in the wrong hands...
While I'm not very far into the game, MS Saga feels like a traditional turn-based RPG. Battles are random, the combat is pretty basic, and will instantly be familiar to RPG veterans. One of the key elements of the game is the customization that it allows. There are 39 different customizable mobile suites, and they can be personalized with over 260 parts. Even early on in the game you have access to several weapons, and it's up to you whether you want your suit to be better at ranged attacks or excel at melee combat. If you're not big into tinkering, a handy auto-upgrade feature will do all the work for you, setting you up with the best mobile suit possible.
The overworld is viewed from a distance at slight angle above the main character. Indoors and in towns the camera gets closer, showing off the characters, which were designed by Akira Yasuda, who you may know from a little series called Street Fighter. Mr. Yasuda definitely went to town on some of the people's outfits - they're a little on the outrageous side. That said, they do go a long ways towards making the game feel like a cartoon, as well as making it stand out from every other RPG out there.
The music is a mixture of electronic/synthesized themes, an over-the-top theme song that is sung in Japanese, and a catchy "town theme" that feels like it was ripped straight from a Final Fantasy game. The voice acting is passable, but doesn't sound like it's going to win any awards. The same goes for the game's text translation, which is okay, but feels a little awkward, and had a pretty major typo not ten minutes into the game.
Since no firm release date has been determined for MS Saga: A New Dawn, we're going to delve a little deeper into the game and bring you some more impressions. Of course, as soon as we find out a release date, we'll pass it along to you.
1/31/2006 Aaron Thomas