In the shadow of Sony's colossal display lay a rather nondescript area where Agetec held their E3 showing. Trailers for their upcoming games were playing on one screen, but my eyes were drawn to what I at first assumed was an employee working with a calm intensity through what I came to realize was RPG Maker 3. While I watched bemused and sipping complimentary spring water, he was building up a small town, creating a countryside, and even slapping together a dungeon for quick adventuring. Only to later discover that this was only a small sample of what this massive role-playing toolkit had to offer.
RPG Maker 3 (PS2)
The original RPG Maker was a delight to anyone who dreamed of crafting their own interactive world, only to wake up due to its number of limitations. RPG Maker 2 offered all the depth they had been wanting and more, but the interface and systems were far too complicated for many, and required a serious time investment for those determined to stick it out. RPG Maker 3 offers the best of both worlds, focusing on ease of use so anyone can put together a fully working town in minutes, while the more experienced user will find the depth to do nearly anything.
Everything is rendered in real-time, so if you draw out a path next to a grove of trees, a forest will suddenly emerge, complete with a winding path through it. Want to make a dungeon? Just draw it out on the map, including traps and locked doors whose opening items can be selected or created right then and there. Characters are no longer super-deformed, but rendered in a realistic style, accompanied by three thousand possible animations and a number of 2D representations to be used in player-created cinemas.
Battles play out in a form that will be familiar with fans of the Final Fantasy series, including some nice animations and attack effects for both heroes and monsters. Weather effects like rain and fog can help add a touch of atmosphere to the towns you build, while the buildings themselves come prefabricated with all the furniture and other assorted items they need to make them feel like more than an empty shack. If you don't like the default arrangement, however, you can edit them whatever way you wish.
Despite the ease of this toolset, if you still haven't the time or the desire to construct your own personal fantasy world, you will be able to download the works of others from Agetec's own site, the Pavilion, providing a near endless supply of adventure.
Armored Core Nine Breaker (PS2)
I've played nearly every game in the Armored Core series. I've slogged my way through missions to earn credits in order to gain the parts I needed to forge the ultimate mecha time and time again. It wasn't something I was looking forward to do one more time. Thanks to Nine Breaker, I won't have to.
No more credits and no more missions. Nearly all of the over four hundred mecha parts are available from the start, though there are a few that that need to be specially unlocked. Of course, importing your Nexus data is also supported. Missions have been replaced with a hundred and fifty training exercises that becoming progressively tougher as you progress. Some of the most difficult will not only push your reflexes to the limit, but also your ability to construct the best possible mecha for each situation. Clearing these exercises will unlock over twenty arenas where you can put your developing talents to the test against AI controlled bots or up to three human opponents.
One of the problems with Armored Core series as it grows more and more complex with each new game, it also becomes less and less accessible to the new player to the series, who are likely to give up in frustration. With Nine Breaker's training missions, even the mecha fighting neophyte can become the ultimate Raven pilot.