Visually impressive RPG previewed
Evergrace is a beautiful game - thanks to the Playstation 2's use of light and colour. Instead of the clear-cut, but not terribly detailed approach of many PC titles running at resolutions of 640x480, Evergrace pushes back the boundaries of console graphics systems. Every blade of grass, every droplet of water, everything in the game shimmers and glitters; the use of dynamic lighting is impressive. To give you an idea - consider how shocking it was to see Quake2 on the PC powered by 3d acceleration back when 3d cards were only just filtering through to the mainstream. The leap in quality and quantity of effects is truly astounding. In a way the game does mimic Zelda on the N64; you'll certainly be right at home if you've played that title. You control a young fellow called Yu-Iterald, or if you're that-way inclined, a lass named Shalami. Each character has several movements, each of which befits a certain combat situation. By pressing Select, the player can access a Weapons Configuration menu where weapons and armour can be rotated.
Who Are Yu?
Yu's physical appearance is that of a teenage youth, he wears an animal skin over his shoulders and leath boots. You can redress him through the option screens with various garments, but only after you've looted them from the corpse of a defeated enemy. There are several different types of armour with which to clothe Yu, including Dash Armour, which predictably allows Yu to run at an increased pace, somewhat akin to Speed Boots in Zelda. The armour requires magic in order to maintain the upped pace - so it's a sure thing that magic will be one of the key factors in your progression through the game. Yu is one of the four Swordsmen of Storta, who has now mastered his sword-fighting skills after long years of training. His parents were assassinated by some nasty chaps from Morea when he was a nipper, and seeking revenge, he pursues those Moreans that have survived this long. In his pursuit, he gets lost and is magically transported into the Ryuben Empire.
Take a Bite of Shalami
A neighbour of Yu's, Shalami has a heart of gold and love, and cares greatly for Yu, looking upon him as a sort of brotherly figure. She too is transported to the Ryuben Empire by a misplaced spell of Yu's, and is central to the plot. While you can play as either her or Yu, after a certain point, the two meet up and you play as a twosome, one controlled by you and one by the computer. Shalami and Yu can utilize Palmira, a jewel at the centre of the magic system present in Evergrace. It can be used to improve your body conditions. There are three breeds of Palmira - the physical, the magic and the support. The physical allows you to perform specialist magical attacks, the magical allows you to cast spells and the support allows you to protect yourself from offensive spells.
Evergrace looks as though it will prove a rapturous experience, something of a must for any RPG! It has quite a bit in common with the Final Fantasy series as well as Zelda - for instance if you don't care about the characters, the game won't be worth playing. Obviously not much is known of the game so far, other than the fact that it looks spectacular and that it will feature a magic-based combat system, complemented by a truckload of statistics and two centre characters, a boy and a girl - at the moment we've only seen fairly sparsely detailed locations so far. Nonetheless the high level of character model detail would indicate that the rest of the visuals would be something to behold. Unlike a lot of similar titles, the detail on your enemies' bodies is of equal quality. So far we've seen a hornet that attacks you from the air - with a rippling abdomen and skin texturing that will make you shudder.