Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Rogue Galaxy review | 8.0

The Playstation 2 has tons of RPGs. When a new one marches forth most RPGers can usually say "Yep" or "Nope." Rogue Galaxy is definitely a "Yep." It's easy to grasp, yet difficult to master. It's shorthanded in some key areas which keep it from being perfect, but it's still one of the best RPGs to come around in a while.

Rogue Galaxy follows the story of Jaster. Jaster dreams of exploring the galaxy someday. He more than gets his chance after having a run in with a Bounty Hunter, and then being mistaken for said bounty hunter. In all honesty, Rogue Galaxy doesn't have a great storyline. It's certainly not horrible, but it's standard. It's also full of predictable plot points, and it actually lacks a little in the character development. These two aspects of any RPG are crucial. Whether you want to accept it or not, story and character development are important, and Rogue Galaxy lacks both. It's sad because you'll meet a lot of characters who are interesting. The problem is that you just don't learn enough about them.

Luckily, the game is saved by the sheer fun factor that comes with the battle system. Unlike other RPGs, Rogue Galaxy doesn't have you running around and then there's a transition into a random battle. Rather, enemies just pop up and you take a battle stance right in the area you're exploring. It's very similar to Kingdom Hearts in that regard. When in battle you'll be able to jump around, slash as your enemies and switch between primary and secondary weapons. Your primary weapon is usually a melee weapon, while your secondary is a projectile. Battling is fast paced and fun. It deviates away from the menu based combat that has dominated RPGs over the past couple of decades.

Battling isn't entirely simple, though. The game is quite a challenge in many regards. First, there's the emphasis on strategy. This is more than just you smacking an enemy until it dies. Some enemies you'll have to expose their weakness in some way before you can start dealing damage to them. Some only take damage from certain weapons. There is a definite emphasis on strategy. Your characters will often give you hints on what to do as well.

You only control one character in combat. The others are controlled by AI. Unfortunately this is another aspect where Rogue Galaxy falls short. Your allies are hardly aggressive. There will be plenty of moments where you'll have to revive your AI controlled characters. There are moments where the game's difficulty is so high that reviving and healing characters becomes a constant chore. This is mostly apparent in boss battles. Which brings up another factor that can make or break the experience of Rogue Galaxy. Leveling up also feels like a chore sometimes. It takes a lot of battling to level up. It's fun, thank goodness, but much like Dragon Quest VIII there are times when you'll spend more time level grinding than progressing through the game. Some RPGers will love this challenge, but others may not be patient enough to do so much level building. The game is long as it is, and so much more of it requires the player to be dedicated to level grinding. For the most part, though, it's still a fun game to play, and the battle system is so much more involving than other RPGs out there.

Another factor to aid the battle system and peak the interest of any RPGer is the weapon fusion. As you go through the game, your weapons also level up. They can be be fused with other weapons to make more powerful weapons. So much of Rogue Galaxy isn't so much dependent on your defense as much as it is your offense. So it's a good idea to fuse some good weapons. However, weapon fusing isn't completely fun and games. There's no way for you to become a God right from the get go with weapons. Factors such as the weapon type, weapon level, your characters skill with the weapon etc. play a pivotal role. So even if you created a really powerful weapon early on, your character may not be skilled enough to wield it. This works very well, because it keeps the game from becoming too easy too fast.

Rogue Galaxy also offers a complex ability system called "Revelations." Each character has a Revelations Flow Chart. By buying certain items and placing them in the Revelations Flow Chart, your characters will learn abilities, and other parts of the Flow Chart will open up for them. Like a lot of the game, it's actually pretty simple to learn. This is what's nice about Rogue Galaxy. It's easy to pick up and play.

There are some pretty cool optional quests that you can do throughout the game. You can collect bugs that can be used in a stadium (very similar to Pokemon), go on bounty missions, explore other planets. Rogue Galaxy is a pretty big game all on its own. The main quest is big enough, but some of the secrets and extras are enough to rival the Final Fantasy games.

Visually, Rogue Galaxy is one of the most artistic and beautiful looking games out there. It has a beautiful cel-shaded look very similar to Dragon Quest VIII. The environments are detailed and pretty. The fact of how exploration is done is also fantastic. Instead of just roaming around you'll have to jump up platforms and such as well. There are better looking games, but the style of this one is what makes the graphics stand out. Load times also feel non-existent. Since battles take place in exploration, and the game's cutscenes don't have to load (because there are no flashy FMVs), there's not much the game really has to load.

Speaking of which, the sound and audio quality is really good. There are times when the soundtrack feels like it isn't big enough, but you'll enjoy what you get from it, regardless. The voice acting is also done really well, even if a lot of dubbing is off more so than other RPGs.

The point is simple: With video games moving on to newer systems, it's nice to see that the Playstation 2 hasn't been left in the dust, and that Rogue Galaxy really is a high quality RPG. It may not have the best story in the world, or the best characters, but it's a huge game, with tons of things to do. The sheer amount of fun you'll have with this game is a testament to it's good quality.


+Beautiful Looking Game
+Great soundtrack
+Good voice acting
+Tons of sidequests and optional things to do
+Very engaging battle system
+Load times feel non-existent
+The game is a good overall challenge
+Weapon fusion is deeper than most RPGs that try to do the same thing


-Predictable storyline
-Not enough character development
-AI controlled characters don't do enough
-Some boss battles are unreasonably challenging
-A huge emphasis on level grinding, but you won't get enough experience from most of these enemies

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