So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sega Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
A decent enough RPG, especially for younger gamers.
- Fun exploration, lots of playable characters, engaging battle system
- Annoying sound effects, possibly over-engaging battle system
Bioware knows how to craft a compelling RPG but Sonic Chronicles lacks the depth and complexity of its previous titles. As such, its simplistic gameplay and story will definitely appeal to younger gamers but more mature gamers might want to reserve their excitement for Bioware's next effort.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
Let's get one thing straight right away: Sonic Chronicles is not Mass Effect Sonic, it is not Knights of the Old Republic Sonic, nor is it Baldur's Gate Sonic. While Bioware, a company with a reputation for crafting deep and complex RPG titles, developed Sonic Chronicles, it isn't as compelling as their previous efforts. Still, it's a decent enough RPG, especially for younger gamers.
The Dark Brotherhood follows Sonic and his gang as they try to unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Knuckles and a plot to steal the Master Emerald. The story is interesting enough and since this is an RPG, you have to pay attention to the plot but it sort of takes a backseat to the actual gameplay.
Dark Brotherhood places a heavy emphasis on exploration, with enemy encounters sprinkled throughout. Just be warned, though, that the combat system is extremely high maintenance for a turn-based RPG. Rather than just input commands and watching the action unfold, you'll have to stay on top of the action and input tap and drag combos in order to earn special attacks and defend against enemy moves. It works fine but it's far too unforgiving: miss just one beat and your entire combo goes in the trash.
The game does feature the usual RPG trappings, though, meaning you can level up your characters-in a nice touch, any character not in your immediate party still gains experience, so they don't fall behind-and hatch Chao eggs for mascots who give you elemental attacks and stat bonuses. Dark Chronicles also makes good use of the DS hardware-moving your characters around is done by simply dragging the stylus across the screen, for instance-but the graphics aren't exactly dazzling, especially when compared to the visually sharp cut-scenes. The audio also leaves a lot to be desired, with a primitive sounding soundtrack and poor sound effects.
All in all, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is a fairly easy and light RPG that I'm sure younger gamers will have a blast with. That said, the rest of us might want to wait for a Bioware's next meatier offering.
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