Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/RPG
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Idea Factory
Release Date: April 25, 2007
Unbeknownst to many, the Generation of Chaos that we first got for the PlayStation Portable was actually the fourth game in the series. As such, it was a very bad game to introduce to the strategy-hungry NIS fan base and saw lackluster reviews all around. With the sequel, Aedis Eclipse: Generation of Chaos, Idea Factor and NIS America plan to regain some of the cult popularity that the game has in the Japanese market. Perhaps a better name would have been Generation of Chaos 2, but that would be misleading since it's the fifth game in the series ... but I digress.
The game — well, at least the first story, armed with a tutorial — follows young military school cadet Quinn, the very essence of an anime protagonist. When his city gets attacked by another country's mysterious Cyber Suits, instead of evacuating like any sane person, he charges in to take a look at the neat things. After all, new technology is awesome!
Keep in mind that I said the "first" story. Much like Generation of Chaos before it, Aedis Eclipse takes the "above-ground world and underground world" mechanic and goes with it all the way, featuring three totally separate plotlines that are intertwined beautifully. While the world underground is similar to our own world or perhaps a little more advanced — people have discovered guns, robots, and other similar things — the upper world is more fantasy-oriented, seeming far more like a traditional swords-and-sorcery RPG. In addition, above them both is the Divine World, where angels and demons are locked in an eternal war. The storyline was one of Generation of Chaos's high points, and Aedis Eclipse aims to go even further, as in the opening scenes, the game showed heaps of potential.
Idea Factory is obviously looking to improve some of the features of Aedis Eclipse over its predecessor. Most notable is the previously mentioned tutorial, which explains the whole purpose of everything. If you aren't well-versed in strategy games (particularly menu-heavy ones such as Rise of the Three Kingdoms), then there's likely to be a lot of fumbling around in the almost-labyrinthine menu system, trying to figure out left from right.
The incredibly linear, almost board game-like hex scheme and grand army-on-army battle system are still here, so if you could handle them in the first GoC, then you're bound to love Aedis Eclipse. If you didn't play it, Aedis Eclipse is hex-based, to a degree.
There's some strategy involved with elemental affinities of each space; different units are aligned with different elements of nature, and you get stat bonuses on squares of a particular element. There are also special squares that only characters with a certain affinity can cross (i.e., water units crossing rivers), and other squares that are typically untraversable. This is where the board game-like layout of the game works to its advantage, as you can terraform squares a certain distance away from each base, tuning them to an element of your choice for a small gold fee and making some impassable squares possible to walk on.
Each type of landmark has various special properties as well, ranging from your home base which allows you to travel to other similar bases and fully heals units, as well as simple landmarks and special places on the field where you can build things such as recruiters to replenish your grunt troops and churches to bolster your defenses.
During battles, you bark out orders to your units and watch as they get carried out. There's a little bit of customization at the beginning of battle, allowing you to select various formations that improve defense at the cost of attack, and vice versa. Each captain — the named, portraited characters who you recruit and who actually carry the plot — has his own set of skills as well, ranging from unique abilities to special skills you can buy in shops. You can customize your captains, giving them armor, weapons, special items, and different troops — your grunt troops are also treated like equipment.
As it stands, Aedis Eclipse: Generation of Chaos is still unfinished, as our preview build had a few issues of slowdown mid-battle and an odd mix of original Japanese voices and redubbed English voices. Both issues will probably be addressed and fixed by the time the game ships. All in all, Aedis Eclipse looks to improve some of the glaring problems with the original, but without altering the core of the system. If you're looking for a good story, keep your eyes out for this one on the 25th.
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