As though March wasn't already busy enough for RPG releases, Namco Bandai and subsidiary D3Publisher are adding another to the list with Gods Eater Burst for the PSP. Originally released as God Eater in February last year in Japan, a new enhanced version - God Eater Burst - arrived 8 months later in October and is preparing to head for western shores next month with the slightly odd added gift of an extra S in the title.
"With over 100 missions to choose from, there should be many hours of enjoyment for those who enjoy hunting the dangerous game on show."
With general gameplay clearly hoping to capitilize on the popularity of Capcom's Monster Hunter series, Gods Eater Burst sees players in a near-future post-apocalyptic Earth battling beasts called Aragami (the titular gods) that have overrun the planet. As members of an organisation called Fenrir, players are given missions to hunt down these Aragami and save humanity. Gods Eater Burst is not simply a Monster Hunter clone however, with Namco Bandai deciding to put a lot of emphasis towards the story, including full voice-acting and cutscenes. Details given about the story suggest an anime-like style, and we can expect to see character development and interaction, with plot twists and turns and naturally at least one conspiracy behind this future apocalyptic state of Earth.
Customization is one of the big features of the game, starting off with players creating their own character. With a choice of gender plus a number of options for hair, skin, clothing and even voice there are enough options to come away with a character tailored to your preference. After creating the character players will then receive a God Arc, the only weapons effective against the Aragami. The God Arcs are beasts in of themselves, frequently being over twice the size of their wielders. They are fully customizable in a large variety of menacing shapes. In addition to their massive size, the God Arcs transform at will between melee and projectile modes during battles, allowing for plenty of tactical choices to be made on the fly during the fast-based fights. The projectile mode of the God Arcs also serves one of the other features that sets Gods Eater Burst apart, with a deep bullet-modification system that allows the players to tweak the ammunition used in this mode to include options like elemental effects, explosive power and even the height and curvature of the bullets' path. Clever preparation of the bullets to suit the target Aragami and environment could end up being of vital help and adds a nice extra tactical dimension. God Arcs further cement their beastliness when Aragami are knocked down, entering a devour mode that will pick up bonus materials or even skills and also firmly supply the 'Eater' part of the title.
Gods Eater Burst allows up to four players to go through the story mode together through the local wireless connection, although it will only allow access to the story-missions unlocked by the player with the least progress for obvious spoiler-related reasons. However, for those that are not playing via co-op, fear not as the game will provide selectable party members to take the Aragami hunting team up to the full complement. An option to trade items called 'Avatar Cards' is also available, which allows players to use friends characters as NPC party members even if they aren't connected at the time. With over 100 missions to choose from, there should be many hours of enjoyment for those who enjoy hunting the dangerous game on show.
While the game includes an anime opening, cutscenes within the game are generated with the in-game engine, allowing the character customization to show itself. Visuals are in general favourably comparable with the higher-end PSP games and battles feature plenty of on screen action, including some blood splatter, without ever cluttering and distracting from the task at hand. Meanwhile the environments, while maybe not the prettiest around, do their function and help to show the current rather ruinous state of the world. The Aragami themselves also appear to be nicely varied, with a good mixture of both traditional beast and dragon-like foes plus some of more unusual shapes and forms. Samples of Go Shiina's score are also highly encouraging, keeping up with the action seen in the battles and helping to generate a fight-for-survival feel. It appears that the Japanese opening theme, sung by Alan, has been left intact and the examples of voice acting that are available also offer encouragement that a good deal of effort has been put into providing a quality localization.
JRPG fans can certainly find cause to investigate further with the game being well received in Japan, especially those who may have been put off from similar monster hunting games by a lack of story. The game was well received in Japan, with the original God Eater selling over six hundred thousand copies in the first two months. Gods Eater Burst is due to be released on March 15 in North America and March 18 in Europe.