for the Xbox

F or Xbox gamers finding themselves with a glaring lack of role playing games, Sudeki looks like it might bridge the gap between last year's fantastic Knights of the Old Republic and this fall's eagerly-anticipated Fable--but once the gameplay starts up, Sudeki proves pretty disappointing. You control four generic, anime-inspired characters: Tal, a soldier, Ailish, a sorceress, Buki, a warrior, and Elco, a gunman. A quick glance at this dramatis personae neatly sums up Sudeki's target audience and commercial aspirations: the Maxim-esque Ailish and Buki are generous flaunters of both T and A, while the effeminate Elco and Tal are ripped right out of any Final Fantasy title. These four marketing shills exist in a similarly uninspired plot--it's the same old shit from a hundred other RPGs about some world torn asunder by the forces of evil.

Sudeki's real-time combat, thankfully, proves more interesting. The game's option to switch between the four characters on the fly is an unexpected bonus--the fights feel as satisfying and fun as those of dungeon crawlers like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. (Weirdly, the game has enough blood and gore to qualify for an "M" rating, which is a bit disconcerting considering how lighthearted the game is--one minute you'll be making small-talk with an anthropomorphized rabbit, the next, a combat-mode Tal will proclaim "I'll stain the floor with your insides!")

Aside from all that pretty fun combat, though, you'll spend a great deal of time running around, listening to crappy voice acting, and watching the seams of Microsoft's revenue-minded RPG come apart.

Even in terms of graphics--usually the one thing Xbox exclusives can be depended upon to exceed other consoles--Sudeki doesn't quite succeed; while the sprawling levels are suitably detailed and refreshingly colorful, the visuals don't even come close to what the Xbox is capable of. While Sudeki could have been a solid game to hold over gamers until fall releases of more promising RPGs like The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age and the aforementioned Fable, instead it just makes the wait for those games feel even longer.

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