Friday, April 04, 2008

VG Review: Culdcept Saga


Bandai Namco, for the Xbox 360, rated T for Teen (mild fantasy violence, mild language, partial nudity, suggestive themes) $39.99.

The notion of blending the video and board game genres is nothing terribly new. The Internet is filled with virtual variations of "Scrabble," "Risk" and other much-beloved fare.

It's when developers attempt to mix the two formats in new and interesting ways that I sit up and take notice, as I did with 2003's "Culdcept," an odd blend of "Monopoly" and the trading-card game "Magic: The Gathering."

Now we finally have a sequel, "Culdcept Saga," which offers much of the same compelling play as its predecessor.

As in the first game, "Saga" has players marching around on a multicolored board and planting creature cards down on various squares in the same way you'd plop a hotel down on Park Place.

The catch here is that if your opponent lands on your occupied square, they can battle your creature using the cards in their own hand. If they win, your creature dies and the square becomes their property (and they don't have to pay a fine or rent).

As you might guess with a game of this nature, there are lots of rules to memorize. Certain creatures have special abilities, for example, and item cards can enhance a creature's strength or defense.

Learning all the various rules and minutiae could be overwhelming for those who just want to dig into a fun board game. And it can be quite frustrating to enter a battle thinking you have the upper hand only to learn you didn't because of some minor rule.

Though mainly a strategy game, "Culdcept Saga" relies on a blend of luck and skill to succeed, and many times it can seem as though the former is simply not in your camp. What's more, the length of some of the matches might annoy those looking for something speedier.

What makes this sequel noteworthy is the addition of online multiplayer, where players can set up quick matches, greatly enhancing the value of the game.

"Culdcept Saga's" complexity and learning curve will no doubt put off some. Those willing to immerse themselves in its intricacies, however, will find a compelling, downright addictive game.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2008



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