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Platform

PlayStation 2

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Sony

 

Developer

Level 5

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2007

 

 

- Lots of exploration

- Nifty item / weapon building systems

- Looks great

- Likeable characters

 

 

- Story is so-so

 

 

Review: Final Fantasy XII (PlayStation 2)

Review Dark Cloud 2 (PlayStation 2)

 

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Rogue Galaxy

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

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If there is one thing that Level 5 has gotten a firm grip on, itís creating cel-shaded RPGs.  They cut their teeth on Dark Cloud 2, added polish with Dragon Quest VIII, and now they have Rogue Galaxy to add to the hit parade.  While the gameís story may be similar to a number of other entries in the genre, Rogue Galaxy more than makes up for this with charm, and an array of engaging gameplay features.

 

With Rogue Galaxy, itís as if Level 5 took a bunch of game features that they did well in previous games, and squeezed them all in here.  Combat is more akin to an action RPG, as players control one player in a team of three, and hack away at enemies (or use magic, items, and other goodies), with the option to change control to one of the other team members at anytime.  There is an absolutely fabulous weapon creation system that will get players salivating for more fancy loot.  Also, there are some very large dungeons to explore.

 

Battles manage to stay fresh throughout the course of the game thanks to their fast pace.  As players progress, combat gets more and more complicated because new moves are slowly introduced to deal with enemies with special defenses or specific vulnerabilities.  Players can also give orders to party members to use certain items, or use a special attack.  These bring a nice balance of strategy and visceral carnage to each fight, preventing combat from becoming a brain dead button mashing exercise.  Since most characters have both ranged and melee weapons, one also has to think about whether they want to blast away from the sidelines, or go toe-to-toe with the bad guys.  Players really need to think about how theyíre going to defeat their enemies.  Itís a refreshing change from the countless other RPGs on the market where 90% of the battles are mindlessly repetitive.  Fighting against bosses will be particularly challenging as they pack a wallop, and some regularly change up their attacks.  There are also plenty of opportunities to hunt various monsters where some will be easily found in the

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various dungeons of the game, while others are specifically assigned to players as a sort of bounty.  In either case, players can gain points as they meet specific hunting goals until they rank as the best hunter in the galaxy.  Itís a fun side quest for players to fiddle around with that adds a bit more longevity to the game.

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Some have complained that combat in Rogue Galaxy is difficult, but I disagree.  Players need to make sure that they remain well stocked on all essential healing items, and take the time to create powerful weapons if they want to do well.  The game only becomes unbearably difficult if someone tries to rush through it.

 

The weapon creation system is just like that found in the Dark Cloud games where playersí weapons gain experience over time through battle.  Once they get to a certain level of strength they can be combined with other weapons that have gone through the same process, creating a new, more powerful weapon.  You never quite know what youíre going to get, but itís an exciting process.  Usually whatever is spewed out not only has some interesting abilities, but it also looks very cool.  Those with an insatiable need for ďphat loot!Ē will love this system.  There's even an option later in the game to create a bunch of other items by collecting blueprints and materials, and building crazy contraptions in a factory to produce the items.  It's more of a miniature puzzle game, as players figure out how to process materials and get them to the end of the assembly line simultaneously.  It's a nice distraction in the game.

 

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For those who like to do a lot of exploring in a role-playing game, there is ample opportunity for that in Rogue Galaxy.  Most of the dungeons in the game are massive with several branching paths that will lead players to treasure, dead ends, and whatever their goal happens to be at the time.  Whatís particularly nice about these dungeons is that Level 5 made sure to place several save points so that players arenít stuck playing longer than they want to simply because they donít want to lose all the work they did, as they push on in search of a place to save.  Better still is that players can teleport between any save point that they discover in a given dungeon, saving huge amounts of travel time when backtracking may be necessary.

 

The one area of the game that really comes across as lacking is the story.  Itís typical anime fair with a steady stream of archetypal characters on an adventure.  Thereís the badass, the tough girl, a robot that is an awful lot like C3PO, and a young lad filled with wanderlust and a taste for adventure in the cast, as well as a slew of others with personalities that weíve seen several times before in other games and anime series.  All the while, players find themselves on a quest to find an ancient, mythical civilization.  Despite this the characters are likeable enough to overlook these shortcoming to an extent.  Donít expect to be on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next in the story line, itís largely a coming of age story combined with a fantastical futuristic treasure hunt.

 

Adding to the anime feel of the game is the excellent cel shaded graphics.  Level 5 has really gotten a handle on this style of visual presentation.  The environments are lively, the characters are very unique, and their personality comes out in facial expressions, fashion, and so forth.  Meanwhile, the cities feel vibrant with people walking around, and each locale being distinct from the next.  The music manages to complement this very well with a mixture of whimsical tunes well suited to exploring space, and up-tempo pieces that get the blood flowing when fighting hordes of monsters in a dungeon.

 

At the end of the day, thereís a lot to like about Rogue Galaxy.  If youíre the sort who likes to explore dungeons and score a bunch of really nifty weapons, then this game is for your.  The story wonít win any awards, but there is enough to do in this game, and enough charm to keep players occupied for a very long time.

 

Jeff Nash

March 22, 2007

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