Game Review: Eternal Sonata

It’s no secret that the Xbox is sorely lacking in the RPG genre and for the few years of the Xbox 360’s life cycle, it seemed like that trend was going to continue. However, in recent months, there has been an attempt to bolster Microsoft’s sore spot with some quality RPG’s, that have met success, even in Japan. One of the most anticipated was Eternal Sonata (Bandai Namco ) and its draw was the music of legendary composer Chopin and a real-time battle system that would shake up the turn-based battles of most Japanese RPG’s. Was the title worth the hype it received? Was it a flagship RPG that could be a sign for things to come? 360 owners can rejoice, as it is all that and more.

The battle system definitely lived up to the hype. Taking its cue from critically acclaimed Lunar, Grandia, and Tales series, Sonata takes the best from them and creates a free roam turn based system that forces strategy and skill with quick thinking, especially as the game wears on. This RPG actually forces you to improve precision and technique by not just increasing the difficulty of the monsters, but also shortening the time for planning and giving you more options at the same time. It leads to creating a twist for those who are used to just simply pressing the same combination of buttons.

Ambiance makes the difference between good RPG’s and great RPG’s, and there aren’t many RPG’s that have as much as Sonata. Between Chopin’s music pumped through your speakers and the beautifully constructed graphics that fit the games theme well, you will have a comfortable time exploring the huge game world. Chopin’s music always seems to match the mood perfectly and oddly never gets old, but classical music is called that for a reason. The graphics are not as sharp as Lost Planet or Gears of War, but anyone would be hard pressed to say that are not as beautiful. The light and bright colors fit the atmosphere perfectly.

If there is a flaw in this game, is it’s the cliché back story. Yes, there are twists, but they feel so predictable that if you play enough RPG’s you will see some elements before they happen. Not that it isn’t entertaining, because it will keep your attention, but it leaves you feeling that they could have worked a bit more on the factor of story telling.

Even after counting that minor flaw, this game is something that any RPG aficionado should have in their collection. Between the great pacing, interesting characters, beautiful graphics, and some bonuses such as a history lesson on the real Fredric Chopin, this game’s sonata between you and the disc may not last forever, but sure will capture your attention as long as you let it.