|01-01-2007, 03:46 PM||#1|
Culdcept Saga is the upcoming Xbox 360 entry in the long-running series that combines card battling and board gaming in one package. The series has been around for nearly 10 years, first appearing on Sega's Saturn system and making appearances on the PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PlayStation 2. While it hasn't had much exposure outside of Japan, the 2003 Culdcept title for the PlayStation 2 is a cult classic. We tried out the demo on display at TGS to see what the series is up to on the Xbox 360. The game will feature an offline story mode as well as an online battle mode where you can take on up to three other players. The offline story mode will send you off to rescue a damsel in distress and will feature multiple endings. The online game will offer voice chat and let you wager cards against your opponents while fighting, which should help anyone aiming to collect all 400 unique cards in the game--the most yet in the Culdcept series. Also, the game will support downloadable content on Xbox Live Marketplace in the form of new cards, maps, and costumes for your online avatar.
The game plays out as a unique mix of board gaming (think Monopoly) and card battling (think Magic: The Gathering). Your goal is to venture round the squares on boards of varying configurations and earn a set amount of "magic" by taking over squares and battling your foe. Once you earn the required amount of magic, you'll need to reach the castle square on the map to win the match. It's a very simple concept that's dressed up by the card battles, which form the heart of the series. The card battles require some learning but aren't too hard to get a handle on. Cards come in one of three types: creatures, items, and spells. Within each category you'll find a wealth of subtypes that include modifiers such as elemental attributes. At its most basic, the card system is a rock-paper-scissors spin-off, with you trying to match or best the cards your opponent throws at you.
Unlike some of the other franchise-based titles for the Xbox 360 in Japan, Culdcept Saga is being billed as a new installment in the series for the Xbox 360 and reflects the latest refinements that have been introduced in the series over the years. Gameplay has been tweaked to offer a faster experience, and card usage has been refined to allow certain spell cards to be reused in battle.
The presentation in the game is primarily 2D, with the board and your avatar being sprite-based images. The cards you'll use in battle feature high-res imagery and a variety of different effects to reflect their various attacks, which helps spice up the presentation some. The audio sounds low-key so far, as the demo on display featured some innocuous tunes that didn't stand out much.
Based on what we saw, Culdcept Saga is shaping up to be a solid entry in the series and will likely be an acquired taste. That said, the game is very fun once you get the hang of it. Culdcept Saga is currently slated to ship this November in Japan and appears to be slated for a US release sometime in 2007. Look for more on the game in the coming months.