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Everyone knows graphics aren't the most important part of an RPG, though some nice eye-candy can certainly make it easier to stare at the game for the long periods of time needed to finish it. In their own way, the environments are fairly rich and detailed (Though in outdoor areas, if you know where to look, you can easily see some of the texture boundaries). There's nice detail in lighting sources, and furnishings and other such area objects. The game even knows the difference between night and day, and everything outside is much darker after sundown. Lighting within buildings is dependent on whether there is a light source in the area or not.
The fogging effects for long distances are fairly smooth too. The other characters (enemy and NPC) are made of a nice amount of polygons, and really look great. The projectile weapon effects are pretty nice, even though unnecessary. Unfortunately, most short-range weapons don't have any sort of effect graphic other than causing the enemy to move as if hit. So we can see bullets, but not swords. That's a bit unsettling, though in a first-person RPG itís probably to be expected. The spell effects, however, are wonderful.
The interface is configurable to 3 levels, depending on how much of the play area you want to see. The three levels are shown below, though I've found that with the widest-angle view, and just popping out the radar and formation, you can still get at all functions quickly, even during combat. The image below is an animation of all three view modes.
The combat interface is identical, and you will DEFINITELY want the radar and formation readouts around, since it's important to know which way the characters are facing. This display is simple and effective, and also shows a shaded area which constitutes your view through the "front window" of the interface. During battle, the characters portraits will show splashes of blood when they take damage (if the portraits aren't out, they will be brought out to show the damage animation) And the enemies you fight will also show battle damage, ranging from a few cuts and bloodstains, all the way to a bruised up and barely recognizable face.
The visual damage modeling seems to be generic, rather than being related to the type of attack used (bruises for impact weapons, and cuts and blood from blades) but it's still a nice feature to have, since it's commonly considered extraneous in an RPG.
As far as equipping and examining your characters, there's a complete full-screen interface for this. It's incredibly nicely rendered, and makes a great balance between beauty and conveying the loads of information that this game needs to convey. There's a lot of detail information that the player really needs to be able to access, and the interface presents it splendidly, and keeps everything organized in such a way that, even with an inventory crammed with 500 items, you can still find exactly what you need.
The voices are VERY well done, and the sound effects are top notch as well. Everything is completely appropriate to the setting. The only background music is during the cutscenes and battle, but both sound very nice, and the battle music is especially appropriate and exciting. Still, some background music might break up the monotony of walking through the world to get from point A to point B; after all, this is why many of us have car stereos.
character has his or her own voice, so you know who's speaking, and any
character you create can be assigned one of several voices and ways of
speaking, from lackadaisical through intellectual to rough and ready. The
characters are also happy to give their opinions when they spot things as
well, so get used to hearing them chatter.
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