(Namco Bandai for PS3)
By Mike Delano
Eternal Sonata is an insanely good-looking game. So good-looking that seeing the next impossibly gorgeous locale becomes your main motivation for playing, which is saying something in an RPG with a story and gameplay this strong. The good looks are also worth noting since the game actually looks like what you thought a next-gen HD Japanese RPG would look like, unlike more-hyped but visually disappointing recent entries, such as Infinite Undiscovery and The Last Remnant. The plot is intriguingly different: Frederic Chopin (yea, the real one) is hallucinating while on his deathbed, and you control a virtual-virtual Chopin and others in an anime-styled fantasy world that he believes exists only in his imagination. Once inside his hallucination, the RPG clichés abound, but there’s some definite meat here, and major plot threads take inspiration from Chopin’s life experiences. A great soundtrack and Chopin’s own timeless music round out the sterling presentation. The combat system is another highlight. It’s a real-time/turn-based hybrid on an open battlefield wherein the attacks of you and your enemies change based on whether the characters are standing in light or dark areas. It makes grinding a pleasure, like the rest of the game.