Summoner: A Goddess Reborn
Game Info
Platform(s)
GC*
Publisher
THQ
Developer
Volition Inc.
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice story
• Lots of sidequests
• Excellent world and character design
• Real time action

The Bad

• Graphics could look better
• Camera needs work
• Slow down
• Solo portions can be frustratingly difficult

 
Grade
C+
 
* Also released on the PS2, but under the name of Summoner 2

When the original Summoner came out around the time of the Playstation 2's launch, many people thought the game had promise, but failed to live up to it due to some flaws and limitations. With the sequel, we hoped that most of the issues from the first game had been resolved. The story this time around is about Maia, the Queen of Halassar, who must fulfill her destiny to become the Goddess Laharah Reborn. Along with this main quest is a variety of conflicts involving other cultures and Maia's place in the world.

Combat proves to be a real-time affair where the player hits the B Button to attack and can even string a three hit combo together. As your characters level up, you can invest Skill Points into a variety of skills, including new attacks, like being able to kick, attack someone behind you or even leech HPs from an attack. Using the D-Pad, you can also select spells or items to have the player use with the Y Button. You can also switch between your party members using the D-Pad, which can allow for more control over their actions if you're not happy with one of the AI scripts that you can give them.

As this is an RPG, you'll find yourself visiting many locations and even speaking to a number of NPCs to gain sidequests. These sidequests provide a good enough diversion to the main story without forcing themselves onto the player. You can seek them out or ignore them as you like. One of the nicer touches is being able to speak to people at the palace to make royal decisions about Maia's country, like funding things that will make her country grow or hearing local petitions for aid.

What would a game called "Summoner" be without summons? Throughout the game, Maia will find four summon types (Blood, Eye, Sand and Tree) that she can transform into. It probably won't take most gamers more than five to seven hours to find all four, but as you progress into the game, you'll be able to level these up into newer, more powerful versions. To transform into a summon, Maia must select the summon, hit the Y Button and transform into the creature for a short period of time. These beast have their own brutal attacks but also have magic of their own. Once they run out of HPs or time, they revert back to Maia. Using these summons can often turn the tide in some of the more challenging fights.

Visually, the game improves on some of the issues from the first game, like the horrible pop-up. The locations now are more colorful and sport a lot of detail with a good bit of activity going on. Character models have decent detail and animation, but seem to lack a layer of polish to make the characters look interesting. In fact, the overall design of the world and characters shows a lot of imagination even if the execution isn't quite up to par. In comparison to the likes of Final Fantasy X or Star Wars: KOTOR, Summoner: A Goddess Reborn looks like it could use a healthy does of gloss and brighter, more impressive visual effects. That's not to say the game is an eyesore, but it will look good enough to keep you moving along.

Summoner: A Goddess Reborn features a lot of voicework that does a fine job at telling the pretty rich story. While most voiceacting in games tends to lean towards the cheesy side, most of the voices done for this title prove to deliver believable characters. Sound effects dip from the RPG pool without standing out on their own. The music proves some interesting tracks, but get extremely repetitive as the songs don't manage to be long enough on their own.

For all that I liked about Summoner: A Goddess Reborn, there's still so much that fails to capture the potential that this title could have had. First and foremost, the in-game camera is a pain in the ass. While you supposedly have control of it with the C-Stick, it still manages to find itself placed behind things, such as walls or zooms in way too close to be useful. And, is it so hard for the developers to allow the camera to be a little higher up so you can have a better view of the action? There's also some serious flaws with the game engine, like seam tearing between polygons and even some noticeable and often slow down during fights, especially when spells are being used. To top this all off is a serious overuse of forcing you to use one character, namely Maia, to get through what can be some of the most difficult portions of the game. Because of this, you may find yourself retrying certain spots over and over again, or finishing a fight, saving and then slowly moving forward, which can drag the game down.

Summoner: A Goddess Reborn isn't the greatest RPG. It's not even the best one on the Gamecube. But, for those looking for a good story and a change of pace gameplay-wise, this title proves to be good enough. While the game could have used more time development-wise which keeps it from realizing its potential, it's still a good diversion, especially if you find it for a cheaper price.

- - Vane

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