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In Memory
Sean Pettibone





Microsoft Game Studios is promising big things with Sudeki. This RPG is set to be one of the biggest titles the company has developed to date. Featuring realtime play mechanics, Sudeki will have a greater emphasis on action than many traditional RPGs. The game's look will also be a bit different than the norm, and the characters will have a sexier design and a dark storyline filled with double-crosses. So, it this the game Xbox owners have been looking for? The Laser previews Sudeki and finds out.

The Xbox has had a pretty solid run to date, with a diverse software library and an impressive online launch carving the Microsoft console a strong niche in just under 18 months. Unfortunately, the area where the console is weakest is in the RPG category. While there have been some decent releases, most have failed to satisfy fans reared on the traditional Japanese RPG. There have been very few releases in this genre for the Xbox, but most have been very disappointing and activity on the Xbox front has been sparse. This is a bit surprising since you'd think its huge hard-drive and superior graphical abilities would make the Xbox an ideal platform for this genre. Considering the console's lack of support amongst the traditional Japanese RPG powerhouse developers such as Square and Enix, this probably isn't that much of an issue. However, Microsoft's internal development is looking to change this with the release of a more adult-oriented title named Sudeki later this year.

Sudeki looks to be innovative and will have some unique features not found in other RPG title. The game is set in an evocative world of light and darkness where a team of outcasts and misfits is sent into battle the forces of evil that lurk in the shadows. The game allows you to take control of 4 different characters. The party consists of a sultry wizardress, a gunslinger, a swordsman and a dark huntress. Each character has a unique set of abilities that will help you in the quest. As usual, players will be able to build up these characters by increasing their spell arsenals, weapons cache and spell casting abilities.

Sudeki won't use the traditional RPG approach in the sense that the action will take place in real-time, instead of the usual turn-based play most adventure games use. This emphasis on action over strategy should make the gameplay much more intense and exciting. Additionally, the four characters will have much cooler moves than most normal RPGs such as the ability to use bullet time, fly around, cast super spells and a huge arsenal of different weapons. The spells are going to be quite elaborate, and these can be used to take on armies of foes simultaneously. While each character is powerful on their own, you can combine their powers together using massive cooperative superstrikes. Using this move lets players take on huge numbers of enemies with a single move.

The epic plot takes place in a world filled with darkness and corruption with many plot-twists and betrayals promised that should keep players' interest levels high throughout. Sudeki will take players through many massive worlds that are much larger than seen in most other RPG's to date. Along the way, you'll meet many different NPC's who you can interact with and might even give you clues or items. The party will then venture out into the worlds where they'll encounter hundreds of monsters and enemies such as large spiders, skeletons and assaults on huge battle fortresses. In addition to all of this, the time of day will play a significant role in the action, as the party will be able to move only during the day and will fight only at night, which should help the game stand out from the competition.

An elaborate cinematic approach will differentiate the game from the others of its ilk. The customized engine will take full advantage of the Xbox with detailed facial animations, complex lighting and extensive use of bump-mapping to convey a massive sense of scale. In addition, the game will use bullet-time slow motion to heighten the dramatic effect. Sudeki's presentation will also deviate from the norm, and the game's Hong-Kong inspired look should give it a grittier feel than other titles in the genre. Judging by the early screen-shots and teaser footage Microsoft has released, Sudeki is looking like one of the most evocative Xbox games to date with an amazing feast for the eyes in store.

Players who have been disappointed to date by the RPG offerings on the Xbox can take some comfort in Sudeki, which looks to be a high-quality title. This looks to take the traditional elements of RPG titles and update them for the next-generation console with some innovative ideas and features. The day and night gameplay system sounds interesting and its use of combination attacks should keep things interesting. An amazing graphics engine and cool character designs will also set the game apart from the pack. Sudeki's more adult approach to the genre should be enough to differentiate it from the other role-playing titles on the market. However, the biggest question is whether it can stand up against the big-name offerings such as Final Fantasy X2 and Zelda: The Wind Waker that will appear on other consoles. We don't have the answer, but Sudeki looks like it could have an impact on the gaming scene when it comes out later this year.