Review by DreamWolfe
"The great adventure! No, really."
This game is stunning, absolutely stunning.
At first I didn't know what to make of it. Since the resolution did seem a bit low (distance-blur, ag) and the start of it was a bit slow but the way the developers handled this is nothing short of bloody marvelous. The story evolves, that's all there is to it. It has its highs and lows as you experience the trials and tribulations of all your characters; which I have to say are ... wonderful. From mon Kapitan Vyse, the tomboy Aika, the crusty (rusty?) old Drachma and Gilder ... the man's man who can do almost anything - with style. You're going to love them all, the passion behind this game is astounding, you have to play it to believe it. This is one of those rare instances where you could see the developing team behind the game did what they did for love rather than money.
Okay, time for me to stop gushing. I'll start examining the game now. The game comprises of many, many things. First of all you have your standard dungeons and bosses but they're not so standard, they are bloody HUGE. Areas that are many stories high and seem to go on for ever, each area with its own style and grandeur. You can actually enjoy the dungeons in this because every dungeon has a different way of going about things. This vivid originality continues to the towns and cities too, they are also huge and dripping with polish. It's just a joy to see and play. The most fun of it though comes out of actually being an air-pirate! You can travel the skies seeking unknown lands and selling that information and gaining fame. You can go raid enemy pirate ships and pretty much do anything you damned please. It puts the little ''added tidbits'' in the Final Fantasy games to dire shame, it truly does -- and I adored the FF games (well, at least VII and IX).
The story I can't really encapsulate without including too many spoilers but includes a lot more intrigue than other people have let on I can tell you! They haven't got very far in the game, the overall story is very predictable but the twists and turns that happen in it will be truly unexpected. Also, it does some wonderful new takes on old sailors tales aswell. If you enjoy a good story, if you enjoyed any other RPG for its story alone, you will enjoy this. This is ... not merely a mission to save a peoples or a world, this is an -adventure-! The only game to even begin to grasp at this concept was the original Grandia, at times you'd feel good, you'd feel bad ... you'd live with the characters because nothing was cheesy or overdone and the same is true with Arcadia, only so much more so.
The battles are pretty much standard fare, somewhere between Final Fantasy and Grandia II. Except it has a really innovative magic system that a lot of games are no doubt going to rip off (that's how good it is), I won't spoil it for you, go rent it at least and see for yourself. The best battles though are the ship battles! When you own your own ship it's an amazing thrill ... going up against ancient creatures and armada's, are you a good enough tactician to save your hide? It's also in ship battles that some of the best graphics are seen. Some of the creatures and ships you fight will have you in awe. Hell, the last ship you get in the game will too -- and you'll probably gush over the damned palace-like thing as much as I did.
This truly is one of the all time greats, if you miss out on it then that's your own lookout really but this is one hell of a true adventure, one you will never forget. Kudos Overworks, kudos!
Graphics - 8 of 10
The score loses a point because a 60hz TV can handle a better resolution than that. Low res just doesn't do all the brilliant models, graphics and textures justice. However, the cutscenes and ship battles are all high-res, thankfully! The real kicker though is the expressions on the characters faces ... see if the many quirky looks of Gilder don't raise a chuckle (of course, they might not, you might not like the game or Gilder ... but that's like kicking a puppy).
Sound - 8 of 10
Classical stuff. I mean that, they have a real orchestral theme there, it reminds me of the orchestrated Final Fantasy stuff that was released on CD. Except this is so good it won't need to be remade. The voices are decent enough but limited to grunts, replies and short sentences (a good thing if you ask me, good voice actors are hard and expensive to come by) and the sound effects are very decent except for one ... ''Call For Allies'', that's going to have you reaching for the mute button, it's the only bad sound in the game and one wonders how it made it in.
Game Factor - 10 of 10
Live the adventure. That's all I can say. The only bad thing I can say is that its slow to get into and you'll have to have patience but maybe that's a good thing, the lowest denominator don't deserve a story as good as this one.
Game Life - 9 of 10
It's bloody HUGE! Let me put it this way, an Arcadia demo was released a while back before I bought the game (which was what convinced me to buy it and that wasn't even the best of the game, not by a long shot), I spent a few days playing that and that wasn't even 5% of the first CD! This is huge and making all the ''Discoveries'' is going to take you a long while -- think Sonic Adventure, that had a lot of added bits that added to the life of the game and the same Sega magic exists here too. Also, finding your crew will also enhance the game's life, will you be able to find them all? Certainly not on the first time 'round I doubt, unless you're using a solution - ag.
Overall - 35 of 40
Perhaps not the ''Greatest game of all time!'' (tm) but damned near it. Like I said above, it has a slow start so you'll have to give yourself chance to ease into it but believe me, this game is everything you could possibly imagine ... and more. The only thing it lacks is a furry or a talking four-legger (like Red XIII) *cough*, you'll have to forgive me my biases. ;> Still, go buy it! Just don't blame me for your disappointment when the game actually ends ...
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 05/28/01, Updated 05/28/01
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