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Phantasy Star Universe

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Our Phantasy Star Universe adventures continue, and we've got a whole lot more to reveal. Last week we delved into the revamped single-player adventure and the fast-paced new combat system, so check that if you missed out. This time we're all about the excellent graphics and detailed character customization.

As any online RPGer will tell you, the ability to customize your own character can make or break a game. You don't want your avatar to look like everyone elses'; you want to be a unique virtual snowflake. Luckily, PSU offers a plethora of ways to stand out from the crowd.

While in the basic story mode you'll always play as teen hero Ethan Waber, after chapter 4 you'll unlock an "extra mode" which lets you play the solo game with a custom character. You can choose from four races: Human, Newman, Cast and Beast, each with specialties and weakness. Newmans are great at magic TECHNICs, while Beasts rock the close-range combat.

After choosing your gender you've got a whole mess of other options to tweak, including face shape and texture, eye type and color, eyebrows, ears, body proportions, height, skin color, hairstyle, hair color, underclothes and civilian clothes. The range of options is impressive, but don't worry: special in-game makeover stores will let you change a lot of these things later, should you want to sport a new style. (You're stuck with your height and proportions though, shorty.)

The odd thing is that you don't get to pick a character class: Everyone starts as a hunter, which can be a bit tricky for  the physically weaker Newmans. Class only comes into play later, when you visit GUARDIAN HQ and choose to specialize as a Ranger or Force (or remain a Hunter).

Class choice has major ramifications on stats and what types of weapons you can wield, and these changes only grow as you level-up your profession. However, the game lets you change jobs for a small fee, so one character can play different roles at various times. It'll take a lot of playing to level up extra jobs, but it might pay off in the future, letting you unlock the hybrid "expert" classes we've heard whispers of.

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