Game title: Eternal Sonata

Platform: Xbox 360

Studio: Bandi Namco Games

Rating: T-for teen

Scores: 8 out of 10


Gameplay: A triumph of graphic artistry, "Eternal Sonata" is sure to impress any player with its beautiful and intricate scenery, musical score and endearing historical fiction-based characters.

This classic role-playing game takes you back to 19th-century Paris, where you are absorbed into the final dream of dying composer Frederic Francois Chopin.

The world created in his dream is filled with people and places with names referencing musical terms. The primary characters — Chopin, Polka, Allegretto and Beat — possess special powers they are able to harness due to the effects of their failing health from incurable diseases. Together they battle enemies using magic, while caring for the townspeople of Ritardando as they search for an understanding of the magical world they are in.

This mysterious game is filled with stimulating visual and audio effects, which will draw players deeper into the game and help to establish a lasting affection for the characters, and their self-sacrifice for others.

Enemies are not too difficult to defeat, but with each level they become more challenging (detailed tutorials are provided to help players learn how to battle with each character). The more enemies you defeat, the more experience your character earns, improving his overall status in the game.

The majority of controls are easy to use — although controls to master guarding oneself against enemies during an attack take practice to master.

While the overall game is engaging, it can get lost in too many extra details; by taking photos of enemies and selling them, players are able to make lots of money. Players also get the opportunity to try their hand at playing bits of actual Chopin pieces with townspeople, but other than the music's relevance to the historical figure, it doesn't play much of a role.

Lengthy plot-building scenes become exhaustive and the inability to change camera views can become irritating. While the game has spectacular visual effects, it doesn't allow players to enjoy all of the surroundings because characters are kept on a set path.

But the excellent graphics, musical score and story are enough to keep anyone playing for hours.

Graphics: While the game takes place through different terrain as the characters progress, the effort to detail each scene is apparent — from tiny lizards crawling in the sewer systems to the delicate stripes on the sleeves of Polka's Dress. Obvious care was taken to show how real this dream-world feels to the characters and the players.

Audio: While the game boasts a historical-fiction account of Chopin's death, it surprisingly contains little musical content attributed to him. That is not to say that the music for the game isn't stellar in itself. Melodies vary throughout each scene and are one of the keystones of engaging players, becoming more intense when battling enemies and fluctuating when the mood of a scene changes.

Wrap up

Parent's take: This game is rated for teen gamers and contains violence toward fantasy animals and characters. As the nature of the game regards the nature of death, it might not be suitable for young children who fear or don't understand the concept.

Final word: "Eternal Sonata" is a great game to play for those who love to become immersed in the fantasy world of role-playing games. The stunning graphics and audio, in addition to a heartwarming plot, are sure factors that will make this game a classic RPG among Xbox gamers.

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