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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Enix

 

Developer

GameArts

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

- Innovative combat system

- Plenty of action

 

 

- Becomes repetitive

- Lack of in-dungeon saves

- Regenerating creatures

 

 

Review: Grandia II (Playstation 2)

Review: Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2)

 

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Grandia Xtreme

Score: 6.9 / 10

 

No, there are no skateboards in Grandia Xtreme (GrX).  There are no BMX bikes, no surf boards, and no snow boards.  No insane jumps.  No piercings, little tattoos.  No earning money to pay for videos of strippers (sadly).  Of all the games the Xtreme (extreme) tag has been attached to, GrX might well be the weirdest (at least until someone releases Extreme Lawn Bowling).  The “Xtreme” in the title however doesn’t seem too out of place however once you’ve fought several hundred enemies on the way to a boss battle, then lost the battle and had to start back from the beginning of the dungeon – which is completely repopulated with hundreds of new enemies.

 

grandia-xtreme-1.jpg (26485 bytes)          grandia-xtreme-2.jpg (52479 bytes)

 

GrX is not Grandia 3 by any means.  The first two games in the Grandia series (and especially the first Grandia) were built on two things:  a great story and a great combat system.  GrX eliminates the deep, involved story and focuses all of the energy of the game on the combat, making GrX one of the purest turn-based dungeon crawls of recent memory.  There is a simple, shallow story for those who care, but it has no relevance to the game play at all.

 

Luckily, the Grandia series has a wonderful combat system.  Introduced originally for the Japanese Saturn and then perfected (on many platforms) for Grandia 2, the combat system is time-based (though not real-time) and dynamic if not overly complex.  Everything is based on mixing up four kinds of attacks in a way that best serves each individual battle.  Characters can do a Combo attack, a Critical Attack, a skilled attack, or a magical attack.  Attacking with a special skill (which are learned through on-the-battlefield training) and magic are self explanatory and work as they do in most RPG’s.  It is the interaction between the Combo and Critical attacks that make GrX’s combat system fun.

 

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An icon on a timeline represents each creature and player character in a battle.  When the character’s icon or a monster’s icon reaches the end of the time line, an attack can be performed.  Characters can use critical attacks to knock a creature back on the timeline and delay their attacks.  While this can be used to a player’s advantage, players must be careful because critical attack does less damage which means though the attacks may be delayed, some creatures may get one more attack in before they die.  Combo attacks 

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do more damage but do not drive a creature backwards on the time line.  Deciding which attack to use gives each battle almost a puzzle-like element.  Eventually, knowing which type of attack to do becomes intuitive and it really could draw me deeper in to the game.

 

grandia-xtreme-3.jpg (43759 bytes)          grandia-xtreme-4.jpg (47985 bytes)

 

Unfortunately, while they are GrX’s greatest trait, the battles are also GrX’s biggest weakness.  The problem is there are simply too many of them.  It is possible to fight as many as a thousand creatures in one dungeon.  As fun as the battles are, this becomes far too repetitive to be much fun.  Combined with the fact that GrX’s story is simple, clichéd and boring, the battles become more of a chore than a joy.  The difficulty is even worse than the repetitiveness.  It is hard to carry enough healing items to get through a dungeon with every character alive.  If the party dies, the game must be restarted from the last save point, and the only place that players can save is the base camp.  This means that if you die on the final boss in the dungeon, the whole dungeon must be played over.  Well, this isn’t totally true.  Some dungeons have multiple portals that allow players to teleport back to base camp where they can save the game.  However, doing this repopulates the dungeons and means fighting through the whole bunch of battles in that section over again.

 

The graphics of GrX are fairly basic.  The character models are attractively designed and fairly well rendered.  The levels themselves are colorful, but very sparsely detailed.  Based around traditional elemental themes, the levels ultimately left me with a “been there, done that” kind of vibe.

 

Overall, playing GrX was alternately exciting and boring.  The skill attacks and magical attacks are colorful and attractive the first few times they are used, but not as impressive as something out of a Final Fantasy game.  After about two thousand creatures had fallen under my feet, I found it hard to build up any enthusiasm for the game, which seems longer than it is because of all the combat.  Still, anyone looking for an all brawn, no brain RPG could do worse than Grandia Xtreme.

 

- Tolen Dante

(December 11, 2002)

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