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Is the Xbox the De Facto RPG Console?

Filed under: Lunabean | Xbox
Posted by Jeremy on August 19, 2004 9:53 AM

You know, Allison and I were never really fans of RPGs. And, it still takes a really good one to get us interested. But the first time we played "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," I realized that I was hooked. And, now, looking around at the various consoles and what they offer, RPG-wise, I'm realizing that the Xbox is the way to go for an RPG fan such as myself. Sure, the PS2 has the "Final Fantasy" series, which for some reason, I am not interested in at all and the GameCube does have some great RPGs, including "Tales of Symphonia" but the upcoming releases of "Fable," "KotOR 2," and "Jade Empire," definitely give the Xbox the edge in awesome blockbuster RPGs.

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It's an interesting position for the Xbox to be in. It's the US console and typically, the US audience hasn't adopted RPGs as much as say the Japanese. It is known for its association with First Person Shooters like "Halo". It doesn't have nearly the saturation that the PS2 does. Nonetheless, it appears that Microsoft has done a good job of positioning itself as the RPG-console, perhaps in a broader effort to increase sales in Japan.

OK, enough with the theory. As we reported, "Fable," (Sept. 13) is going to be one amazing game. It is so detailed that every step you take will influence something else. It's the old adage, "a flap of a butterfly's wings causes a hurricane on the other side of the world." Going further, "Age leaves characters wizened, battle leaves them scarred, gluttony affects obesity. With experiences come advancement and physical change; whether it is by expanding muscles, a keen eye and nimble form or the buzz of magical energies around their finger tips. As players' characters develop, the world reacts to them and their actions. People comment on their successes, failures, appearances and behaviors. Their many opinions are expressed through applause, mockery, trepidation, panic and even flirtation." It may be hard to write a walkthrough for this game, but I'm definitely playing it. I think this is going to be a huge hit.

Up next, we have "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II" (Winter 2004...hopefully). As reported, the game takes place, "approximately five years after the events of the first Knights of the Old Republic, The Sith Lords takes players on an entirely new journey as they assume the role of what is believed to be the last Jedi in the galaxy. The game features a cast of memorable returning characters and sinister new villains. Using more than 30 new Force powers, players can turn weak-minded enemies against one another in combat with ?Force confusion? or see through doors and view character alignment with ?Force sight.?" The last Jedi in the galaxy? Oh yeah, I'm in!

For me, the original, "KotOR," singlehandedly revived that special "Star Wars" magic that had been missing from the franchise since the first trilogy (New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). By the time that darn game ended I was so enthralled with the story and so obsessed with making my character one bad ass Jedi that I could barely put the controller down. "KotOR II" promises to do the same, except this time, with fewer freezes. You see, "KotOR," was the game that officially put our launch-day Xbox over the edge. We had to buy a new one it was acting up so badly.

The last blockbuster RPG for the Xbox that I'll discuss is "Jade Empire" (March 2005). Developed by the same people who brought you "KotOR" and (are bringing you) "KotOR II," BioWare's "Jade Empire" is going to be a completely original franchise, illiciting the mystical ambience of Imperial China.

As the website states, "In the ancient, mysterious world of the Jade Empire, you train under your master's watchful eye and learn powerful martial arts and mystical powers. When danger threatens, you travel across the world, from the harsh mountains of the Land of Howling Spirits to the lush gardens of the Imperial City. In your adventures you face powerful human and supernatural foes, learn exotic and magical martial arts, and discover the darkest secrets of the world. Only by mastering the greatest fighting styles and defeating the most powerful enemies will you earn your place as a master of martial arts in the world of Jade Empire."

I'm kind of thinking of it like this: take the awesomeness that will be "KotOR II" and combine that with a lush and exotic Imperial China, complete with magic and martial arts and you have yourself an amazing game. Sure, you don't have light sabers, but I think I can accept that.

So there you have it. For an RPG fan such as myself, that being one who isn't die hard but wants a selection of phenomenal RPGs at my finger tips, the Xbox is definitely my favorite RPG console. Go figure.

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