let me preface this post by saying that i don't often "beat" games. that said, when i put the effort forth to beat a game nowadays, it's got to be worth it, right?
well, i just beat Rogue Galaxy for the PS2 and here are my impressions (i'm not doing a full-on review, just rambling things off the top of my head):
- i thought i read somewhere that this game had 100+ hours of gameplay... well i clocked in at about 50 hours and even if i did all the side missions and extra stuff i think i'd only clock in at 75 hours max. now, was this a bad thing? no. taking into account the gameplay, story, etc. i think that 50 hours is just fine - i just remember 100 hours being tossed around and i expected a little more.
- speaking of expecting more, i expected to visit more planets (this same problem came up for me when playing Star Ocean: Till the End of Time). in a game that is called Rogue GALAXY, you'd expect to visit more than just 5 or 6 planets you visit over and over, am i right? Mass Effect for the 360, which comes out this fall, looks to be the first game to promise the galaxy and deliver (but we'll see).
- another big thing this game touted is that there are no load times going indoors to outdoors, and vice versa - once you're on a planet, there are no load times. while this was cool, i can't help but feel that they accomplished this by sacrificing something else... life. SO many of the planets felt like they were uninhabited, from the small jungle village to the bustling city. there weren't any people! ...or not enough for me, not enough to make it feel alive. this comment comes after just playing Final Fantasy XII, which i beat a month or so ago (impressions still to come), and the cities in it were bustling with life.
- going along with the above, the dungeons also were not only dead, but repetitive! the further i got in the game the more i could see how they would repeat level layouts just to make a dungeon longer! and man, the last 5-10 hours of the game is TOUGH to get through for this very reason... repetitive environments and dungeons that go on forever. i almost, ALMOST gave up right at the end - from where i thought i was going to have the final battle to where i actually DID have it, i had to go through a grueling 2-3 hour dungeon that repeated itself over and over... and for what? it just felt like stall tactics.
- i guess this happens in a lot of RPGs, but it stood out in this one... even though they eventually offered me 8 characters to make my 3-man party out of, i stuck with the same 3 people from practically the start of the game. what i DID like is that early in the game it forced you to partner up with certain characters because of the story, but then that got totally abandoned maybe 20 hours in. i think the game might have been better had they forced me to switch it up every once in a while.
- the three "main" characters of the game (featured on the box art) seemed a bit forced to me, or at least one of the characters did. the main character and the girl, they were fine, but the other hardened pirate, Zegram... i hardly played as him! reason being is that for half the story he does shady things and you're not sure who's side he's on... so why would i want him in my party? so i went with another character who, looking back, was probably weaker than Zegram in terms of combat. weirdness.
- this game features some of the more difficult combat i've experienced, or at least combat with a learning curve (i died twice in the first hour of playing this game). first, there's no magic, so my tried-and-true method of having a healer didn't work in this game. so what did i have to do? i had to use potions... a lot. a LOT a lot. seriously, i can't remember ever using this many potions in a game. for example, in a regular battle, it wouldn't be weird if i used an individual potion or three and then also a potion that healed all 3 members of my party. that's a LOT of potion usage.
- speaking of combat, i need to talk about the "special attacks" (can't remember what they're called in the game). now, when i play an RPG i more often than not use regular attacks and only rely on special attacks when i'm in a pinch, so naturally the special attacks were largely ignored by me in this game. however, in the last 10 hours of the game i started realizing that the special attacks are WAY unbalanced. now, there is a deterrent from always using a special attack in combat, as each character has a gauge (like a health bar, but for these attacks) and it depletes somewhat when you use a special attack. if you were to constantly use the special attacks, your gauge would be depleted completely after 5-10 battles, and there are, on average, 30 battles in between save points. however, there are potions you can take to refill your gauge, and late in the game you've got tons of them, so you could just fire off special attack after special attack and plow your way through battles. they try and stop this as well with the enemies that have shields, but just regular attack their shields away and then hit them with the special. where I ended up using the special attacks was in boss battles - and wow, WAY unbalanced. some of the bosses didn't even TOUCH me as i just fired away special attack after special attack. they really should have looked at this issue a bit more... i'm glad i didn't realize it until late in the game because it could have seriously made me stop playing.
- just as the special attacks are unbalanced, so is the money in the game. early in the game you're hurting for money - at one point i had to sell off items i didn't want to just to obtain weapons i needed to stand up to the bad guys at the time. but then you're just INUNDATED with money and you've got way more than you know what to do with because there just isn't that much to BUY in the game. i think at the end of the game i had over 700,000 in cash, and the most expensive items were only thousands, not even tens of thousands. oh, and this is after i experienced one of the better games that dealt with money, Final Fantasy XII, which had you sell off spoils from battle and walked a fine line of just having enough throughout the game. so yeah, Rogue Galaxy should have either held back on the money or gave me something to buy! some ultimate weapons, or alternate clothes - something!
- the story was average at best. see, i sign on to RPGs mainly for the story - well, either that or the combat system. Rogue Galaxy had a pretty good story, but not a GREAT story. the entire thing felt a bit too familiar and safe. however, there were a few characters that had interesting stories - Steve and what it meant to be "real," Kisala and her ultimate importance to the galaxy - and there was a lot of humor in the game, which was refreshing. however, the WAY it was told wasn't cool with me - basically it was all told in capping cutscenes, capping off the entering and exiting of a dungeon. while this wasn't ALWAYS the case, that's how it felt - i would grind away in a dungeon for 2 hours and be rewarded with 5 minutes of story... and played story at that. i don't know... it could have been so much more.
- the love story was too reserved, but perhaps this is just a flaw of Japanese RPGs. it was obvious the two main characters liked each other, but there were only a few cutscenes that alluded to this. and the end?!?
- the end of this game was... satisfactory, but not perfect. after you beat the final boss (which takes a good deal of time, as there's 3 iterations of it), there's like a 15-minute cutscene with what happens and the end result? most everyone goes their own ways, but the 2 main characters? left up in the air! then you see the credits and THANK GOD there's another scene... then there's a voice-over that confirms what i'd hoped from the start... but you don't get to SEE it? you don't get to PLAY it? which leads me to my final point...
- after the game is over, you can go and do another long-ass dungeon and obtain some treasure you can't get anywhere else. however, this dungeon isn't story related at all. at the end of the game, a few of the characters are going to rescue another character from herself, and i guess they do because there's a voice-over saying yay we did it... but why couldn't the extra playable dungeon be you rescuing your fellow comrade? i don't know.
so i'm thinking i should have named this post "Rogue Galaxy complaints" but honestly, these are my feelings after playing it. from reading all that you'd think i hated the game right? well you're wrong.
i started this post off by saying that when i put the effort forth to beat a game nowadays, it's got to be worth it. Rogue Galaxy was worth it, have no fear. sure i've got my gripes with the game, but overall it was a pretty good RPG - as good as Level 5s last offering, Dragon Quest VIII? no. but still, pretty good.
if i had to rate it out of 10, i'd give it an 8, with a margin of error of 0.25 (i could go up or down 0.25 points if persuaded to from other people's opinions on the game).