Eternal Poison: Great Gothic Style, Eternal Loading Times

By Louise Yang . November 25, 2008 . 1:27pm

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Eternal Poison is Flight-Plan’s latest addition to the quickly dwindling PS2 library.  It’s a Gothic-styled tactical role playing game with a dark story that must be played a couple times through to understand in its entirety. The game is split into three perspectives: Thage’s story, Olifen’s story, and Ashley’s story. The same events happen in each story, but the character’s perspectives color the events in different lights.

 

The battles of this game have many similarities to typical tactical RPGs: movement is confined to a grid, enemies and player characters take turns attacking until one team is wiped out.  Unlike those other RPGs, there’s an overkill system. When an enemy (or a majin, as the game calls them) is dealt damage that exceeds its remaining HP, it becomes bound.  Bound enemies can be killed by another attack, but a better use of them is to capture them.  Captured enemies can be summoned and used in battles (but only once), sacrificed to gain skills, or sold to merchants.  Since majins only get a limited amount of turns once summoned, I preferred to sacrifice them to get some additional skills on my equipment.

 

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Other RPGs may have weakness/strength systems based on elements, but it’s been a while since I played a game that so heavily dealt with them.  It’s very easy to game over if you don’t pay attention to the elemental strengths and weaknesses of everyone.  Unfortunately, each enemy’s strength/weakness menu takes a second or two to show up, which adds up. The elemental system reminded me of Shin Megami Tensei games where some enemies were completely invulnerable to specific attacks.

 

Combos are another feature of the battle system which differs to what players may be used to.  Players can have team members wait on their turn to set up a combo so that the waiting player can then attack at the same time another team character is attacking on.  This sets up a nice barrage of multiple attacks on one enemy.

 

The Gothic style of Eternal Poison was what first piqued my interest in the game.  Each character is beautifully detailed, but what really got me were the monster designs. The dark fantasy look of the majins as well as the anti-hero characters gave this game a Shin Megami Tensei vibe.  I liked the 2D sprites in the game but the 3D cut-scenes provided a jarring contrast — characters looked so empty and static.

 

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To match the beautiful style of the game, there’s a haunting soundtrack.  The operatic vocals and dramatic chamber music were my favorite things about the soundtrack, but some of the techno battle themes provided a nice juxtaposition.  I actually wasn’t appalled by the American voice acting, which is definitely saying something.

 

The battle system, music and overall graphical style of Eternal Poison make the game stand out, but it’s greatest weakness — loading times, made the game incredibly frustrating.  The 3D cut-scenes took agonizingly long to load and I had to turn off battle animations entirely to make the game even playable. It took a few seconds to just load a loading screen sometimes.

 

If you’re a patient person who doesn’t mind listening to their PS2 chug through loading every minute or so, Eternal Poison is a decent albeit difficult tactical RPG to pick up.  If you just can’t stand staring at loading screens, don’t bother with the game; it’ll just make you want to throw your PS2 out the window.

 

Images courtesy of Atlus.


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  • lostinblue

    Well, mine got into customs I’m waiting for the paper and fee to be able to enjoy it, this said my PS2 has HDD and I’ll probably install it in there; I hope to get rid of the loading times.

  • jeffx

    no loading times with HDLoader

  • http://www.nakedsushi.net/ Louise

    Loading it onto the HD is a great idea. I wish I had a HD to use for that though. I’m glad to hear there’s no loading times with the HDLoader.

  • jeffx

    Not allowed to post links in Siliconera comments, but search “PS2 hard drive compatibility chart” on Google for the complete list of supported drives. Hint: most Maxtor will work, most Western Digital won’t.

    Not only will HD Loader eliminate loading times, it will also prolong the precious lifespan of your DVD drive. With a 250GB drive you can load at least 60 games, way more if you get into ISO shrinking (well worth the trouble)

    Sorry for the article jacking! I’m just glad Atlus took a “chance” with this game, although it’s well in line with their regular releases.

  • lostinblue

    jeffx seriously?

    hurray! :D

    Louise you should, think of it as the “ultimate PS2″ kind of thing, any RPG/game junkie should have one; and apart from the HDD adapter (dunno for how much it fetches now) it isn’t even that expensive.

    Mine even has a built-in Operating System (ToxicOS) on the chip so I don’t have to have HDLoader (I don’t have one actually). in the drive or wear the laser, or it could work without the laser just the same.

    I can’t go back, got it specifically (mostly) because Tales of the Abyss loadings were too much and they went from 10 seconds after any battle in the world map to being nonexistent.

  • http://www.endblock.com/ CRIMExTHINK

    PS2 Network Adapters (for the HDD) can easily be found at pretty much any EB Games store for about $20.

    I’ll probably buy this soon, but right now I’m getting ready for Persona 4. And final exams :(

  • Andrew

    Atlus couldn’t correct this loading issue for the NA version?

  • jeffx

    Atlus publishes them, they don’t fix them. I don’t even think they have an in-house programmer. Turning off battle animations is their suggestion.

    Just to make one thing clear: HD Loader does not require any kind of chip or internal modifications (if you know what you’re doing).

  • lostinblue

    @ jeffx – indeed HDLoader is a fine way to not mod the console and still have access to the HDD, but I need internal modifications anyway, since I live in europe (and my equipment is PAL) but more than half my PS2 games are US. Be it because of release dates, the fact that they won’t come out here (all PS2 Tales of games, and xenosaga 1 and 3), price, extras (artbooks, artbooks) the fact that they have progressive scan in their US version and not on the PAL one, or even worse, the forced 50 Hz thingy that often makes games 17% slower, hence wattered down.

    So… since I need to run imports and because I hate disc swaps each time I want to play a +80 hour RPG (have to do it to this day on my Dreamcast and GC though)… I modded it. For the record I never ran a “backup” of something I don’t own for it, neither do I plan to; but I guess I represent 0.000001% of the “chip” users, and in that sense I don’t advise that kind of mod.

    I’m 200% satisfied with the “hardmod” way with embedded Operating System to boot stuff though.

  • Chris

    The world and story are cool, but what kills it for me is how the enemies don’t move until you get near them, so you can just sort of walk around the battlefield and kill them at your leisure. It takes the strategy out of a strategy RPG.

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