Summoner is a mediocre dungeon crawling RPG.
Summoner is a boring game. The battle system was boring because for one it was slow, you really don't do much with it and the hit ratio slowed everything down. I haven't played a game with loading times this bad since GTA: Vice City about 3 years ago. The graphics are painfully outdated and overall ugly. Why does everyone look like a corpse? You backtrack alot in the game, so it's not very big at all. Each town will become a dungeon at some point in the game, and you'll run through each dungeon atleast twice and sometimes three times. I can only think of two dungeons you only need to go through once. There's a ton of sidequests, but most of them are extremely difficult... I think I ended up finishing about 15 of them at the most. Most sidequests requires to much running around, and with the bad loading times, massive stages and hundreds of people on screen it's a pain to accomplish, so I skipped most.
Overall, there's plenty of better W-RPGs out there, and even Summoner 2: A Goddess Reborn was much better than this.
Summoner is an overhead view dungeon crawler RPG. The battle system is similar to an MMORPG, so it's kinda of an action game, but it's also a turn-based game. You control one character and set the rest of the party with traits like "Melee" or "Healer" in the status screen. Your team mates are rather dumb, so if they start fighting a group of monsters, they'll fight til the death. If you run away, they'll still fight on. You can't give your characters commands while in battle, like to retreat or fight a certain monster. Once the character that you control starts to attack, everyone else will follow. You have no control over your character's moves (other than magic), so you have to sit back and watch the fight or run away. The hit ratio is really off and that’s for long battles of dodging, blocking and missing attacks (especially if you are just using one character). The only command you can give your character in battle is combo attacks. A infinity number will pop up over his head in battle, and at that exact same time you have to hit the D-pad to force a combo attack, each combo costs AP.
Each character gains experience after each enemy killed or job completed. The experience is split among the characters, so leveling up can get slow towards the end. Once a character finally gains a level, he or she will gain 2 or 3 skill points. Your job is to sort these skill points out to various skills you want your character to learn. It's probably not possible to max out your skills, since leveling up gets very steep towards the end, you should be careful with your skill points.
The best thing about this game is Joseph can Summon demons to help in battle making a 5th character on your team. You can only summon one demon at a time, if you have a Summon ring equipped then that Summon will gain experience. Your summon will last until it dies or if you exit an area.
There's a ton of sidequests in the game. Most of these require you to run around the large towns looking for people to talk to with a red bubble over their head. If they give you a job, it's probably best to do them now if you can because you can eventually lose jobs if you progress through the story to far. Jobs can give you a ton of experience, great weapons or a ton of money.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Joseph, a boy with the mark of the Summoner on his hand. When he was a child he tried to summon a beast and destroyed his hometown. Ever since then he has been reluctant to use his powers until his hometown was invaded by an army. As he escapes to a safe town he meets up with an old friend Yago that sends him on a quest to find the four Summoning Rings with the thief Flece. Joseph will also team up with Rosalind, the daughter of Yago and a student of Asoi, and Jekhar a person from Josphen's past.
The story is pretty bad overall. There was one good plot twist, but other than that the game annoyed me. There's only a few important cutscenes in the game, most of the game's meat is from sidequests and running around dungeons for hours. Most character's names and town names are randomly slapped together giving you un-rememberable names and in some cases, un-pronounceable names that doesn't make for a remember game overall.
Summoner might be one of the first PS2 games to come out but that doesn't stop it from having terrible graphics and design flaws. When you initiate a chat, the camera slowly crawls into a first person view to show the person you're talking to, most often than not the dialog box will cover that persons head. The dialog box is seriously ugly and hard to read. The text is large, but in a weird font and a contrasting color with the background that makes the text bubbles hard to look at. The cutscenes look really rough, the character designs are jaggy and poorly designed.
The most impressive thing about this game is the extremely large areas you'll be running around in. The biggest draw back to this is the draw distance in open areas. The backgrounds will constantly be loading and forming right in front of you. The levels are designed with a level generator so the backgrounds get old and boring.
The worst thing about this game overall is the loading times. The loading times can take up to 30 or 40 seconds, I'm serious. Each area will force a long loading time, each random encounter. The biggest problem I had with this is during boss fights, when the boss will move or transform or change style or whatever a boss would normally do, a loading screen will pop up to load up a 5 second cutscene and then let the boss do his move. It's very distracting.
The voice work is actually pretty good. There is only voice work during the cutscenes, so no dialog is voiced out, even if it's important so there's not much voiced out dialog in the game. The music is minimal, synth and tribal beats, but nothing bad or great. There's barely any sound effects in the game too, so they're not very good. A few times during gameplay the music would just quit, other times the sound effects would stop.
The world map is a standard RPG overview map. You will run into random encounters. The loading times are terrible, so running into one is annoying. Once you're all loaded and ready, you'll be set inside the same area over and over again. If you're in a certain point of the game you'll fight a boss fight, you'll do sidequests or just a normal battle. If it's a normal battle then your main goal is to get to the exit, not kill everything.
My biggest problem with the map is there's no icons marking the towns you previously visited. It makes it hard to navigate through the world, it's not huge or anything but it's still annoying.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
The game doesn't save after you beat the final boss or anything, so my time just includes everything before the final fight. After the final boss you get a choice of two endings, to view the other one you have to fight it again, but I was to lazy to do it. During the credits you can skip them by hitting the X button and watching a comedy bit that was surprisingly funny. This cutscene was longer than most of the ones in the game, heck it even looked better too.