E3 Impression

Enchanted Arms




Remember that Xbox 360 game with the bizzare name? Well, the name's been upgraded and we had a chance to experience Enchanted Arms, formerly [eM] eNCHANT arM. Enchanted Arms served up some spiffy tactical combat, rendered beautifully, taking full advantage of the 360's graphical capabilities. The plot of Enchanted Arms seems to revolve around Golems: man-made creatures that escaped man's control some time ago. They were sealed away with some fancy magic and left to rot. Unfortunately, somebody (the girl at the booth wouldn't say who or what) let them out. The main character, Atsoma, has an enchanted arm (hence the title) which he discovers has the power to re-seal Golems. Fortunately, he can also control and dispatch Golems in battle.

We played two separate scenarios: a quick town scene and a battle with a large poly-headed dragon creature. There was very little to do in town, aside from smashing some barrels and initiating inane dialogue with NPCs. There was no plot or story at this point, so dialogue was fruitless. The copy of Enchanted Arms that we played was not far enough along in development for us to buy or sell things from vendors, but we were assured that it would be in the final version. Among the citizens of the town were some friendly Golems. They appeared to have pizza-shaped heads, and were supposed to be shopkeepers. One interesting thing to note: when talking to NPCs, you don't get plain old character portraits in the dialogue box, you get fully rendered CG portraits that move according to the dialogue.

The battle system was tricky. So tricky, in fact, that Enchanted Arms features an Auto-Battle system. It chooses an appropriate strategy and goes nuts. This might seem cool, but we were not given any indication as to how much customization the Auto-Battle system would have. When we grilled the representative, she insinuated that the game would learn from previous battles and fight based on what your strategy would be. We did not get to finish the battle with the dragon-thing (apparently called "The Emperor of Fire") but we did observe a few things. The battles take place on a grid where you move characters in and out of position to attack or heal. A typical player turn could have a series of character movements or attacks (we were given four), at which point the enemy forces would attack. Special attacks must be "purchased" with points and are executed immediately. Enemies can have elemental weaknesses, which a wise player will exploit. Conveniently, the only Golem we were given was an Ice Golem of sorts, who gave the fire-based dragon a solid whoopin'.

More standing around.

We were told that the game would feature over 100 Golems, but we can't testify to that. The demo had one useable Golem and a couple pizza-faced ones, and nothing else. What really nailed us about Enchanted Arms was the incredible graphics. Walking around the town gilded by a yellow sunset was breathtaking. Battle effects were customarily spectacular, and character CG was a nice touch. We were also told that Enchanted Arms would feature 50 hours of cinematics, but again, we didn't see any of that in the demo.

If you invested in an Xbox 360 it might be worth your time to investigate this title, but until we see some solid plot development, we won't be rushing to buy it any time soon. Or a 360, for that matter, but that's a separate issue.

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· Summer 2006

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