Eternal Ring is so similar in most ways to From Software's earlier King's Field games that it makes you wonder if it was shot out solely to take advantage of the PS2 launch. There's a disturbing lack of control-no analog stick support, no jump, no dodge, no shield or block move. You basically run up to an enemy, strike with your one same attack--repeat until one of you is dead. And the bad guys are pretty dumb too; most of them would be a snap to kill if not for a bug that allows their projectile attacks to fly through walls. But combat, as well as the overall game, is elevated a bit by the rings you can find and create. Gems left by defeated enemies can be forged into magic rings with all sort of different powers, depending on the elements of the gems used to create them. There are 100 different rings in all, and experimenting with gem combinations and fiddling with all the different magics is really the one part of the game that works well. Graphics are crisp and smooth, but then again this is the PS2 and there's nothing that complicated going on--buildings and outdoor segments are simplistic and textures repeat often. The game tries to inject some life through real-time story cutscenes and voicework, and it does become interesting later but never totally engrossing. Basically ER comes down to this: a decent launch title for new PSa owners desperate for an adventure, but ultimately flawed and disappointing.
It's King's Field all over again. I guess the thinking behind releasing Eternal Ring is pretty sound from a financial point of view, but this game has that "we need to rush out an RPG for launch, who cares if it's any good" feel to it. The real-time sword fighting quickly becomes a repetitive affair: step forward, jab, step back, repeat. Even after gaining the use of magic, combat is an incredibly boring experience, with control so dicey that dying unexpectedly is an all-too-common occurrence. Eternal Ring doesn't even have the luxury of an interesting story to gloss over the bad gameplay. From Software still doesn't know how to make a good RPG.
Eternal Ring won't sell you on the PS2 hardware, but it's worth checking out for FPS and Action-RPG fans. The ring system, which lets you develop strengths and tweak spells, is very cool. I would liked to have seen more brainwork in the game, though--a healthy set of Zelda-esque puzzles could have worked wonders. I also found myself hoping for fancier special effects; most of the levels and monsters look good but a lot of the spells are disappointing. Unfortunately combat could also use a little sprucing up--you end up employing the same simple tactics in almost every situation. Not a blockbuster but worth a try.
Download Eternal Ring
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP