Saturday, September 22, 2007
Rogue Galaxy review
Rogue Galaxy is a beautiful game. I mean stunningly beautiful. It isn't pixel perfect or high definition like a PS3 game - it is just beautiful. Cities are vast and the environments are massive, making exploration a joy. Consider that it was made by the same developers who made Dragon Quest VIII (which incidentally was a very very beautiful game), then you will know what I mean. Level-5, I kowtow to you, the visual experts of cel-shading.
Phew. Anyway that's the best part of the game. Now on to the average part, starting with combat. It isn't exactly the most beautiful combat system in the world. In fact it can get messy. You see. jRPG fans are a fickle bunch. They love old school turn based combat. And Level-5 excelled in such when they did the incredible old school Dragon Quest VIII. Even when the series almost became an action RPG, fans cried aloud and eventually they decided to switch back. Rogue Galaxy is Level-5's take on finally modernising the archaic combat system, by making it real time, ala Final Fantasy XII.
But... it doesn't do it quite as good. Like Final Fantasy XII, combat takes place instantaneously as there are no transition between exploration and battle. Unlike the menu-based-real time Gambit system employed by Square-Enix, the combat system by Level-5 is almost Ninja Gaiden/Devil May Cry'ish, not quite unlike Level-5's own Dark Cloud series; with some sort of auto fighting system engineered in it for good measure. So is it a RPG, or a button-masher? Well, it is sort of both, jack-of-all and master of none sort. RPG elements are evident as you are able to go into menu and get all sorts of RPG cliché items and customising your characters.
Much like Final Fantasy XII's License Board and Final Fantasy X's Grid Sphere, Rogue Galaxy also has a system similar (Revelation Flow) that requires the player to unlock special abilities. Similar to the License Board, I find it slightly annoying and serves no gameplay purpose. It is also less intuitive than Square-Enix's version. But there you go. These sort of gameplay hurdles is set to stay whether we like it or not, so better get used to it.
Rogue Galaxy, like Final Fantasy XII, has a Star Wars'esque plot. The protagonist Jaster Rogue (an orphan BTW) a man who dreams of escaping his desert planet Rosa, and somehow managed to do so when a monster attacks his town. He then inherits a sword... Sounds familiar? No? Well go download Star Wars Episode Four AND One then (even Lucas rips his own films). The plot (Rogue Galaxy, that is) is pretty much a typical RPG plot cliché, so I won't ruined the rest for you. Unfortunately Jaster and his band of space pirates are some of the worst character development in RPG history.
So Rogue Galaxy is almost like Final Fantasy XII so you may as well play XII. But if you have already enjoyed XII, then there isn't any reason why you wouldn't enjoy this. It just isn't as polished and in almost every part of the game from graphics to voice casting to gameplay, it is sub par to Square-Enix's finest in the past ten years. As long as you understand that and recognise the me-too generic plot, then you will likely enjoy this, if not for the above average gameplay.
You can purchase it here from Amazon UK or import the NTSC version from Play-Asia