Stuff to do, things to see, enemies to smite
Summoner is a HUGE game, complete with sprawling cities inhabited by hundreds of NPCs, huge arenas of battle filled with nasty beasts that bite and claw, dozens of armor & weapon types and a bevy of lovely spells to burn & maim one’s enemies.
I can’t emphasize enough the enormity of Summoner. Each area is absolutely massive, not counting monsters trying to stop and eviscerate you, locations take several minutes just to walk through. One could spend several hours alone in Lenele City, exploring and doing various entertaining side quests. Locations are also jam packed with stunningly beautiful OpenGL rendered visuals, such as high, grassy hills, lakes, waterfalls, majestic castles and bright, lovely torches. This game has some of the best water textures I’ve ever seen.
Combat in Summoner is deliciously fun. During battle, the player gives out attack orders through the use of point & click mouse commands, in similar fashion to Baldur’s Gate or Diablo II. For those who wish to do more than sit back and watch their characters cleave their foes, Summoner utilizes the “Chain Attack” system. Chain Attacks are a series of special blows against the enemy, for each successful link added to the chain, the enemy cannot strike back. In the heat of deadly combat, a chain icon will appear above the currently selected character’s head, by immediately pressing the appropriate hot-key, a Chain Attack is activated. If the previous seems like too much work, Summoner also has an “Auto Chain Attack” option. I personally prefer to watch combat from a safe distance, like any good General. Not even Martha Stewart can get Gorgon blood out of a high-ranking General’s stylish uniform! Aside from the previous, Summoner’s combat system is a visual masterpiece. Characters parry and dodge each other’s blows. Combat animation is fluid, realistic and utterly amazing to behold. At times, I became so immersed in watching the combat that I’d forget to give my party orders. Thus, leading to their untimely demise. I’m a baaaaad omnipresent authority figure. At any time, the game may be paused for the purpose of giving commands to your party. This pause feature is very similar to that which is utilized in Baldur’s Gate.
The most beautiful bit of eye candy in Summoner is seen while spell casting. Summoner’s spell effects are simply gorgeous or as I like to say, “OpenGLrific!" I don’t usually use exclamation points, but in this case they’re quite fitting. When a fireball is cast, the ensuing explosion lights up the entire area. Upon the casting of a lightening bolt, one can almost feel the electricity in the air. While these spells are amazing, they don’t top Joseph’s “Summoning” spells. Being a Summoner, Joseph is able to bring forth various creatures to aid him in his quest to overthrow the vile Emperor Murod. Summoning a Golem brings about a brilliant flash of light, after which lava spews from the ground forming the grand creature. Each Summoning spell is unique and very spectacular. Aside from fighting to the bitter end, summoned creatures also make coffee, clean houses and give GREAT full body massages. These more domestic tasks will be discussed in the review.
Internet play will be cross platform via THQ’s game service. Parties of 4 will embark on hack and slash thrill fests, exploring areas and finding items. Summoner’s main plot and quests will not be included in the multiplayer action.
Lastly, Summoner’s story is excellent. Complete with various plot twists and dramatic turns acted out during beautifully rendered cut scenes, this story will keep you enthralled until the very end. Like a good book, I just couldn’t put Summoner down.
Summoner will be one of this summer’s hottest titles. Cancel your vacation plans, forget about sleeping, you’ll have plenty of time for that junk after Murod is no more.
Now, I leave with a question… What mythical trait is shared by Homer Simpson from the Simpsons and Joseph from Summoner? The first person to answer this correctly wins their very own copy of Summoner. (Note: We have a winner! For the curious, the answer is that both Homer and Joseph bare a mark of prophecy.)