A Shadow of a Great RPG
WARNING:May contain Spoilers and/or Bad Language!
By Hironobu Sakaguchi, father of the Final Fantasy franchise, you'd expect something epic. So epic that no other story in the world could match what he could tell. Since SQUARE, a lot has changed. He joined Microsoft to develop RPG's for the Xbox 360. Can he break the RPG barrier for the Xbox generation?
- The story follows three friends: Shu, Kluke and Jiro. What was once a peaceful world is now corrupted by the power that is Nene. The usual RPG plot applies here: they go and kick his ass. The story is interesting though and the inclusion of mini-game events is great.
- There are 5 characters for you to control but unlike other RPG's, you can use them all for fighting (instead of switching characters). The system used in this game are "Shadows". Shadows allow each character to use a certain type/style of attacks. Black Magic = offensive magic, Assassin = stealing, Monk = counters, etc. This is much like a class/job system.
- The strange thing about this game is their powerful attacks (referring to Final Fantasy VII's Limit Breaks or Final Fantasy IX's Trance), is not unlocked until much later in the game. Also, there is no way to set how your special attack is charged, it is by default charged the most when an ally is KO'd in battle.
- You can also "charge" skills (by holding A), which can deal more damage, heal more HP per character or attack multple enemies. This is indicated by a bar with red areas - representing the "sweet spot". Also, charging the bar differs per skill - one charge would start from left and go right very fast, one would do the same but slower and another would fluctuate.
- The battle system is turn-based and there is a clear indication of who's turn it is next. The damage is similar to Final Fantasy IX, where you will rarely see the damage exceed the 1000's. Max HP is 999 and MP is 999 (i think).
- The cinematics and voice acting is great.
- When exploring the overworld, it becomes tricky to navigate. There is a compass on the lower-right corner of the screen but it doesn't say N, E, S, W on it. One half is blue and the other is red - it doesn't tell me anything!
- Travelling from one place to another place is simplified by the use of Teleporters, however these need to be activated first before you can use them. It is far better to use these than to fly.
- Most of the music is great, and why wouldn't it be? It's composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Only odd time when the music feels inappropriate is when too much heavy metal combined with english lyrics is used (such as: boss battles).
- The Achievements list is probably one of the worst I've seen yet. Most of the Achievements require to you level all characters and shadows to Lv.99! Also, there is an Achievement for collecting all items, defeating every type of enemy and completing the mini-game events PERFECTLY! I calculated that it will take at least NINETY (90) HOURS to unlock all these Achievements. The story (skipping everything else) would take around 30 hours.
I'll give Mistwalker some slack as it's the first time they've worked on the Xbox 360. It is a good game at best. Having heard rumors that Blue Dragon 2 is in development, I exicted to see what Mistwalker (and whoever they partner with) brings to this franchise.