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Review: Enchanted Arms - Xbox 360

by Steven Williamson on 29 September 2006, 14:19

Tags: Enchanted Arms (Xbox 360), RPG

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Story telling - Jacka-snory style



If you’ve played any Japanese role-playing games in the past you’ll be accustomed to some of the bizarre, and sometimes epic, story-lines that aim to stretch our tiny brains to the max. Throw in a handful of quirky characters, a levelling up system that boasts more statistics than a Microsoft press conference, chuck in some sort of social aspect to the gameplay and you're pretty much in the right ball park with From Software's latest RPG Enchanted Arms. Unfortunately, as you'll soon discover, that's not always a good thing.

The tale is set 1,000 years after the Golem wars where magical and robotic creatures fought an epic battle. The Golems are now considered part of society (how that happened we don't know) and the game revolves around Atsuma, a student at the Enchantment University who has a magical enchanted arm...so far so good. One sunny day he skips lessons to attend a festival with his friends Toya and Makoto where they unwittingly unleash a Devil Golem called the Queen of Ice. It’s then a case of saving world from a new Golem conflict, and although we’re sure that Atsuma’s magical arm may have something to do with it, we didn’t stick around to find out. The premise of the story doesn't sound too bad does it? Ultimately though, the deep story that we were promised in Enchanted Arms is a mish-mash of ideas from a dozen other games; add to that poor presentation and a few irritating characters and you've got a tale that fails to enchant or grab your attention.

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The story telling is presented mainly through text, with a number of cut scenes that attempt to make it more interesting, but fail miserably. Part of this is due to the wishy-washy storyline, but the actual voice acting of the characters also add to the game’s downfall. Atsuma’s friend, Makoto is the most camp character that we’ve ever witnessed in a game; think Julian Clary crossed with Will’s flamboyant gay friend Jack from Will and Grace and you’ll get the picture. Now I’ve got no problem admitting that I’m in touch with my feminine side and not known for my overt masculinity, but the camp act is so over the top and irrelevant (we think) that it becomes really annoying. We reached a point very early on in the game where we couldn’t take any more of the camp act (combined with the banal storyline) that we were pressing the ‘A’ button as fast as we could to avoid having to listen to the drivel. In a bid to annoy us that little bit more, From Software have decided that every time you interact with a character you’ll be asked whether you’d like the text repeated. Please, we can’t take it anymore. We do believe that without a good storyline an RPG can quickly lose its appeal and Enchanted Arms fits into this cateogory, but without decent gameplay as well it’s just a tragic mistake.

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The main bulk of Enchanted Arms involves the following: find a plot point whilst dashing across the linear environment, receive information that sends you to another point, fight some baddies (Golems), rinse and repeat; it’s incredibly dull at the best of time despite some flashy graphics and a combat system that does try to claw back some credibility.