After yesterday's look at the Nintendo Wii, I think it's about time we took a look at Microsoft's Media-Center Powerhouse, the Xbox 360. It's a bit of an urban myth that the 360 doesn't have any RPGs -- supposedly the Japanese hate it and therefore the amount of RPGs on the console are few and far between. We're about to disprove that with an in depth look at the RPGs set to hit the Xbox 360 in 2007. Let's get cracking.
Let's get this one out of the way. "Blue Dragon?" I hear you cry; "but you said that was one of the most important games of 2006!"
Well, that's true, but that was for the Japanese release of Mistwalker's first Xbox 360 outing. In 2007 the game will hit Western shores and is sure to cause a stir with fans of Final Fantasy and other classic JRPGs. The game is a classic JRPG, as we've reported, featuring a battle system with lots of depth and an involving plot. Blue Dragon is a lot like Final Fantasy in all senses but art style -- and that's no coincidence. Blue Dragon is the first game by Mistwalker, an all new Microsoft Game Studio led by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the man who originally created Final Fantasy.
His name carries more than a bit of clout with RPG fans and I imagine we'll be seeing big sales for this rare Xbox 360 JRPG when it's released in the states and Europe in 2007. We're extremely excited for the English language version -- here's hoping it gets the damn good localisation it deserves!
Ahh, so the inevitable flood of Western-made RPGs begins. Set 200 years into our future, Mass Effect places you into a galactic world that is in danger of being conquered. Coming from Bioware, the geniuses behind Knights of the Old Republic, we're sure these guys know how to do a great Sci-Fi RPG. Mass Effect has you lead a band of Freedom Fighters in order to fight those who threaten peace and protect the worlds under threat.
The first in what has been promised as a trilogy with one big story arc, Mass Effect has been promised to have a plot that will engage the player and keep you coming back for the second and third title in the series. In this game, you will play as Specter as you fight for freedom and prevent the impending destruction of the galaxy across several hostile alien landscapes. As fans of KOTOR, we've got to say -- we're excited.
Touted as an "Oblivion Killer", Two Worlds seems to have a lot in common with Bethesda's behemoth 360 RPG. Like Oblivion, Two Worlds gives players the chance to choose what type of character they would like to control -- mage or knight, good or hideously evil -- and likewise, you have a choice in how you complete quests. You're asked to fetch an item from people -- are you going to negotiate with them or slaughter them to get it?
In addition to the full story mode everybody expects with any good RPG these days, you can also go questing online with a friend in the game's co-operative mode. Naturally, your in-game choices in the story mode will be reflected in the game world, but for us the most exciting aspect of the game is the online Co-Op, something Oblivion would've benefited from greatly. The game is currently slated for March, but we expect delays. We'll bring you more on this as we get it.
The legend returns! Sega revives the old-school arcade slash-em-up as a fully fledged RPG. Designed on 360 and also being ported to the PS3, Golden Axe has been slated for a launch in 2007, so here's hoping it makes it. We've been told that the game will stay true to its side-scrolling roots, giving the player the ability to use physical and magic attacks to take down enemies in close up and long distance battles. Here's hoping the enemies scream as dramatically as they do in the original when they die.
We previewed this quite a while back, and it looks even more promising now than it did then. As an FPS RPG (enough acronyms for you?), the game has something to prove for all games of its type, showing that RPG elements can be successfully blended with other genres.
A terrifying setting combined with Sci-Fi themes and a deep storyline will keep you engrossed, and the deep consequences of every action you take within the Bioshock world will have you thinking carefully about where you point your weapon and who you attack. Just who are the bad guys? If you're looking for an RPG that looks fantastic, plays like a new genre in itself and can scare the life out of you, Bioshock is it.
This game will at least launch in Japan within the year; it's possible it could make it to the West within the year, but we doubt it will. Regardless, its Japanese launch makes it a 2007 RPG for the 360. Mistwalker's Second title, Lost Odyssey couldn't be more different to Blue Dragon. With its realistic art style and grim in-game world, it's the Final Fantasy to Blue Dragon's Dragon Quest in terms of art direction.
You play as Kaim, a man who ahs been sentenced to live for 1000 years. As the game progresses you play through Kaim's life across multiple generations, where he's forced to watch the people he loves die around him while he must still live. The gameplay that's been shown in public is a pretty normal RPG affair -- turn based battles with physical and magical attacks. The most impressive aspect of this game was the great graphics. Hopefully this game will be as great as Blue Dragon turned out to be.
Currently, very little is known about the sequel to the hit Xbox RPG Fable. Fable famously promised a lot more than it could actually deliver, but Lionhead and Peter Molyneux now promise to make up for their previous promises with the sequel. Improving on the sandbox-with-consequences world of Fable 1, Molyneux is keeping tight-lipped this time to avoid further fan disappointment.
What he has said however is that he's very interested in integrating Xbox Live into the next Fable title in some way, which is an interesting comment and we'll be watching closely to see what he does with it. If Fable 2 manages to live up to the promises the original game set out to fulfil, it could become the 360's RPG posterboy.
All other business...
There are quite a few RPGs we haven't mentioned here hitting the 360, but the ones we've listed here are the major titles we feel are the ones that are going to be must-haves.
Also peppering the 360's line-up of RPGs is Western RPG Elveon, another Oblivion-alike title that's currently slated for Summer. There's also Eternal Sonata, another JRPG by Namco. The game is based in a dream world and puts you in charge of your characters inside a combo-based battle system.
There's EA's The Lord of the Rings: The White Council too, if it doesn't end up cancelled as recent rumours have suggested. There's also Sega's Alien RPG, based on the famous movie franchise.
These aside, there's many more worth mentioning that we just don't have space to. Compared to our previous RPGs of 2007 article -- the Wii -- the Xbox 360 is the place for Western-made RPGs. While the console has a few RPGs, it doesn't have all that many, and is most dominated by titles like Oblivion, Fable and Mass Effect. But we're not complaining. Combine that with the JRPG expertise at Mistwalker and we're happy campers. Looks like a good RPG year for the Xbox 360.
Next up -- Playstation 3 RPGs of 2007.
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