[PS2] Grandia III

posted 5 Jan 2011, 00:39 by Thomas Vale   [ updated 5 Jan 2011, 00:40 ]
I picked up this game recently and had it sitting on my shelf for a week or so. After completing Dragon Quest viii, I thought I'd give it a go. I started it on Wednesday. I finished it yesterday. The game counter showed a total of a 12 hours play. Now I expect that kind of thing from Fable, Jade Empire or Kotor, but not from Square Enix and Game Arts. I feel a little cheated in fact that it was that short. I also feel cheated on a number of other respects. Don't get me wrong, this is a fun game with many redeeming points, it's just that the bad points really grate for me

First off, the graphics. They are very good. There were some really quite breathtaking moments during this game. The character models are generations ahead of what we saw in Grandia II. I did feel that the character portraits during text based conversations were... microscopic but well done. The enviorments are good and varied, but at the same time it's pretty standard rpg fare (forest area, temple like city, desert, ice land and castle in the sky). Oh and there are fmvs. There are a lot of fmvs. Too many fmvs. Don't get me wrong, I like a bit of spectacular fmv stuff as much as the next guy, but it was so overused in this game it's not true. There were so many scenes which could have been scripted using the game engine rather than filling up 2 damned DVDs with video. Some of the fmv were actualy quite poor. One bit in particular struck me, one of the characters was wearing a ring in his ear.... it was more hexagon than ring. The point of fmv is to do things you 
can't do in the game engine. But yeah, the graphics were good, the good fmvs were good, but there were far too much of them.

The sound and music.... the voice acting was actualy quite good. Sure there were a couple of bits where there were pregnant pauses ue to the discrepancy in length between the original Japanese and the English, but for the most part it was covered well. I did feel that the actors got into the feel of the parts, and so I wouldn't have bothered with the Jap voice option were there one. The music was.... how can I put this.... The in game music was unnoticable. I'm sure I'd have noticed it's absence, but it's presence neither bothered me or wowed me howerver... the 'main theme' of the game was a translated cheesy j-pop number. Don't get me wrong, I quite like j-pop and it has it's place, but the song chosen really didn't fit the feel of the game. There was no epicness to it at all. It felt a bit like the intro to an american TV show in the 
Friends style. All in all the sounds were great, the music was non-descript and the main theme (which thankfully is only played a total of about 3 times) was completely out of place

The story is standard old-skool rpg fare. Young kid runs into someone and gets embrioled in a Quest To Save The World. Not incredibly imaginative, yeah there are some nice original touches, but for the most part it's obvious what's going to happen. However, I will say it's scripted reasonably well to make it interesting. The one thing I really did not like about the story was the ending. You find out bugger all about what happens to any of your characters or the people you meet except the main two (and there are 7 characters which appear in your party). You see a 'snapshot' of each of the characters, but it's really lacking, especialy considering the ending before the credits roll amounts to about a minute. Now I'm all for letting people guess what happens next, but at the same time give us some sodding direction. It's as if someone put the plot together then said 'oh crap we haven't put an end on yet..... just chuck a load of snapshots on'

There is also the longevity and replay value problems. There feels to be very very little in the way of side quests and as I mentioned I beat this game in a little over 12 hours. Now is it just me or does paying US$50 for a 12 hour long game seem a little... I dunno unreasonable? I mean I probably could have stretched it out to around 15 maybe 16, but that is not value for money

Now I know this may have all seemed a little scathing, but truth be told I really did enjoy this game, for the most part this was down to a couple of interesting characters, like Miranda, and the battle system which is superb. Essentialy a turn based real time battle system (I assure you-not a contradiction), pretty much the same as Grandia II, but with a few added bells and whistles here and there.

As I said, I enjoyed the game, the graphics were great, the voice acting was superb, the battle system was great, but the plot was mediocre at best, music was non-descript , there was little in the way of mini-gmaes and side quests, and the game was shockingly short. Should you buy it? At 50 dollars, no. Maybe when it's about half that and there aren't other better games on the shelf.