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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Square-Enix

 

Developer

Tri-Ace

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2005

 

 

- Anime style graphics

- Great voice acting

- Interesting/funny characters

- Has a good sense of humor

 

 

- Gameplay is hit and miss

- Some missions get tiring

- Repetitious battle cries are annoying

 

 

Review: Final Fantasy XI (PS2)

Review: Star Ocean Till the End of Time (PS2)

Review: Arc the Lad: End of Darkness (PS2)

 

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Radiata Stories

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Tri-Ace is known for their success with the Star Ocean series and now they have released their newest entry of real-time role-playing games, Radiata Stories. This game is not the most impressive RPG on the market, but it has a different vibe to it and is a welcome change to the RPG genre. Most RPG fans know that the Final Fantasy series can be a little too serious at times (FFVIII did it for me) and could benefit by lightening up a little. Radiata Stories does just that. It is whacky, the characters are misfits -- some of them are just plain goofballs -- and itís all in good fun.

 

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The story begins with a young man named Jack Russell who is the son of a legendary knight. Jack has no idea just how legendary his father was, but one day he swears that he will surpass his old man so he attempts to join the ranks of the Radiata Knights. Before Jack can join the Knights, he has to defeat Ridley Silverlake in battle. Humiliated by his defeat at the hands of the young girl, Jackís dreams of becoming a Knight are crushed. However, he achieves the rank of a Radiata Knight with a little pull from the superiors who let Jack in because of his fatherís reputation. Jack, now a Knight, is paired up with Ridley and Ganz, who is on the overweight side. Not too far in the game, Ridley gets injured by blood orcs and a light elf sacrifices his life to perform a "transpiritation" ritual to save Ridley from certain death. The brother of this elf grows angry at the humans and decides to wage war on them.

 

As you can see, Radiata Stories can be really serious at times, but there is always a healthy amount of humor to lighten the mood for when it falls too dark. The result is a good storyline that will leave you wanting more.

 

Jack cannot complete his lengthy quest alone. He will need the aid of allies and friends and this is where party members come in. But getting some extra people to join your party can be a real pain. It resembles Konamiís Suikoden series with its 108 Stars of Destiny. For those who do not know what the hell I am talking about, this means that players must travel around and find characters that are eligible to be in Jackís party. The thing that can be a real pain is the accomplishment of certain tasks in order to get that person to agree to accompany Jack and his current party.

 

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Battling enemies in Radiata Stories is fun, but it is not as engaging or dynamic as the battles in Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time. However, Radiata Stories can hold its own ground and is not just a simple clone of Star Ocean. Each move takes up a different amount of CP. Every weapon available to Jack has a different amount of total CP. Some moves take up 3 CP while others can take all the way up to 4. During my play through the game I found a sword that could hold up to 15 CP points. It was my best sword in the game which means you have to be wise when 

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picking Jackís moves. Every weapon, whether it is a sword, axe or spear, Jack will be forced to learn each move. There is also a move per each weapon that has its own unique " volty" blast. Think of volty blasts as a special move or limit breaks from Final Fantasy VII (thereís even a volty blast called limit break). Volty blasts are powerful attacks and the movements look cinematic, but the frustrating thing is learning them. To be able to unlock each weaponís volty blast, players will have to make sure that Jack learns every move the weapon has to offer first.

 

Your AI companions can also learn volty blasts; however, it gives no indication of when they learn them. Speaking of AI companions, unlike Star Ocean you can only take control of Jack, whereas in Star Ocean you can take control of different party members with a simple touch of a button. This to me was the biggest disappointment of Radiata Stories. You can give your NPCs (non-playable characters) commands, but it still would have been nice to be able to take control of them.

 

Battling the AI is not too hard, but in certain cases, it is not a breeze either. Some enemies will give you a worthy challenge, boss fights in particular. Right before every boss, there is a save point which is a relief because if the player dies, you donít have to start over from the beginning.

 

"Normal" Missions are a pain. (By "normal" meaning outside of the "story missions.) You will meet a person who has a job offer for you (telling you their life story for good measure), and then you go on their quest and fight plenty of monsters on the way. Eventually you reach the boss and defeat him for the reward. I think there are around fifteen of these missions in total and most are just uninspiring and lack a great deal of fun. The reason for this is because even though you are told where to go, there are a lot of little specific details missing and players will end up getting lost a lot. By doing a certain amount of these missions, the player will finally unlock another story mission. Good news is that there are more story missions than there are normal missions. It is only at one point of the game where you must complete more than a few non story related missions at once.  

 

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Sometimes, during cutscenes, players will have to make decisions in terms of Jackís response/decisions to the situation at hand. Without spoiling much, there will be a certain point in the game where the player has to make the most important decision of all. This decision will greatly affect Jackís quest from that point. One of the decisions will end up with Jack allying with the humans, while the other decision will end up with Jack allying with the non-humans (elves, dwarfs and such).

 

In terms of graphics, Radiata Stories has some bright, colorful environments. It is an atmosphere that suits the game well, especially because it all seems like an Anime. Character models are three dimensional but they do give off an anime vibe with their big eyes and their less defined noses and lips. Unlike most RPGs, when the player equips different outfits or armor on Jack, he actually wears it. In most RPGs (Final Fantasy games for example) the characters always look the same no matter what you equip them with.

 

Voice acting came as a surprise. It is not half bad at all. In fact, it is some of the best quality voice acting that I have heard in a while. Some characters do sound goofy, but it was intentional to fit Radiataís humorous mood. The music is not as sharp as the voice acting, but it is still enjoyable to listen to.

 

What it all comes down to is that Radiata Stories is not a ground-breaking game, though it's generally a pleasing experience, and it is definitely not for snobby role-playing twits. However, there is still a lot of fun to be found and this game should be given a fair shake.

 

- J'Tonello

(November 21, 2005)

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