RPGamer Preview: Eternal Ring
It's a new first-person RPG from the creators of King's Field and Shadow Tower- and for fans of either, it's sure to please.

Platform: Sony PlayStation 2
Developer: From Software
Rated Teen for violent content.

When the PlayStation 2 launched in Japan last March, few developers had as many titles available for the new system than From Software. While Square was working on creating sports games such as All-Star Pro Wrestling and Driving Emotion Type S for PS2, From Software had not one, but two RPGs on store shelves- Eternal Ring and, shortly afterward, Evergrace. While the North American launch of the PS2 will boast more RPGs than its previous Japanese launch, Eternal Ring and Evergrace will still be launch titles.

Eternal Ring is a new first-person RPG from the innovators in the genre- From Software. Their previous first-person RPGs King's Field and Shadow Tower have certainly been different from the norm, yet have gained their own sort of following for their unique (at least to consoles) gameplay. But what exactly is a first-person RPG and how does it differ from the turn-based RPGs we know and love, like the Final Fantasy games?

Fans of the Might and Magic games (on the PC) would perhaps be more familiar with the term, and the style of gameplay it entails. Those not familiar with first-person perspective, look to the screenshot at right. Aside from the detail on the terrain, notice something- where is the player? Where's your character? The answer is, he's looking from your perspective. In a first-person game, the perspective is just that -- first-person. You see from the eyes of the player, in real-time exploration and combat.

So it is that in Eternal Ring, you see through the eyes of Cain Morgan, an adventurer in the service of the King. On this adventure the King's service demands that you journey to the Island of No Return, a distant island in the middle of a vast ocean. There, your mission is to solve the mystery of the Eternal Ring. What will be revealed as the mystery unfolds? Well, that's up to you to discover- but as can be seen in the game's introduction, the Ring has the power to decimate even mighty dragons.

Combat is conducted within the first-person perspective, in real time. In Eternal Ring, you're allowed to fight both with hand-to-hand weaponry and magic spells. However, the emphasis here seems clearly to be on magic, as all of the melee weapons are swords. This is particularly evident when looking at the magic system itself. At your disposal are ten rings of different magic types. Mix and match these rings to create different spells that you can use in combat, for healing, or other purposes. Over 120 different spells can be accessed through the different rings; trying to find them all will certainly add to the gameplay, and to the longevity of the game. However, spells must be charged before they can be used, and this takes time. Spell charging time is displayed via a measurement gauge, which can be seen in the picture above.

Eternal Ring
was originally a launch title for the Japanese PlayStation 2, and will likewise be available at the North American PS2 launch. However, North American publisher Agetec has stated that the game will be improved for its Stateside release this October. Specifically, speed of combat and gameplay has been increased, and Eternal Ring now makes full use of the DVD-ROM format by providing full voice acting for every character in the game.

Eternal Ring will be available for PlayStation 2 on October 26.
  by Jimmy Avistetto
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