Review by diddlyD
"Looooooonnnnnggg aaannddd diiiissssaaaapppoiiiining"
108 hours later, I have finally beaten Dragon Warrior 7, and even played through both bonus dungeons, so here is what I think.
The game is long, extremely long, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment with all sorts of things to sequentially unlock (like the pillar transporters and the islands) and ways to build your character up (levels and classes). I spent 73 hours on disc 1, and another 35 on disc 2.
The story is far from great, expounded by the fact that the game is so long. This story would have a hard time keeping you interested for 20 hours, much less over 100.
The graphics are not so bad, as far as Playstation 1 goes. Everyone seems to rag on these visuals, but I havn't seen much better graphics come out of my Playstation.
My biggest gripe is how primitive the developers made this game. The menus, the options... its like they went out of there way to keep everything old school. For example, to find out how much experience you need to level up, you have to go to a town with a priest to ask him (instead of just checking in the menu). Same thing for saving (you can only save at a priest). Another save related annoyance; You can't load a save game after loading another game, and you can't reset the playstation with any combination of keys (like holding right and left keys while pressing select and start) so if you want to reload you have to get up and reboot your machine. The menu is so ancient it hurts to deal with, and you will often get caught up in its clumsiness.
There is almost ZERO character development! You're characters are, mysteriously, the saviors of the world, but are also as boring as zombies. And my biggest pet peave with long role playing games is alive and well... After 40 - 70 hours developing a character, tediously leveling up and getting to know the abilities and limitations of that character, who you have, like a loving parent, molded into your perfect warrior while watching them grow from level 1 up to level X, the story line rips that character from your party (''Oh your dad is sick and you have to leave? OH FINE ABANDON THE WORLD FOR A SICK DAD!!!'') and gives you some new character at a comparable level. I don't care about this new character! I want my old character back!! This happens twice in the game, and the second time the story is so weak at explaining why you must lose your character it is doubly painful. Eventually you can get one of them back, but by that time your other characters are so strong, the original character is useless. My sarcastic explanation for this wonderful ''feature'' is that Enix read somewhere that all remotely modern RPG's must have at least 6 playable interchangeable characters, so they threw in two extra arbitrary characters to increase their chances of making the game a hit.
Game balance doesn't seem to be very good (maybe even broken?) as leveling up seems to only kind of help. Adding 5 levels does not always help you beat a difficult boss in the game, even though it can take hours to do so. You don't get a revive spell until well into the game, so for the first 20-30 hours, you will fear having a character die. It basically means you have to leave the dungeon you are in, go revive at a church, and start over at the beginning of the dungeon. And all these stats like defense and endurance just don't affect the outcome of a battle as much as they should. Some characters take double damage from fire or ice spells for no apparent reason, despite any effort to boost their stats and give them equipment that is supposed to help defend against these elements. Oh, and every other enemy you run into pretty much breathes fire or ice breath which damages the whole party. They didn't even try to think of something new to fight with.
The battle system is also extremely primitive. It's the old ''put in command for each character at start of turn and pray they do what you want them to'' method of old Dragon Warriors. For example, if you want one character to revive a second character, and a third character to heal that second character after he is revived, you have to put in the commands all at once during the start of the round, and then hope the first and third characters get their turns in in the proper order. Also, if there are a group of 5 beasts, and you want to attack a specific one, you can't. You target the group and the computer conveniently picks one from the group that you end up attacking. This terrible design flaw leads to many lost big battles and much frustration, due to the computer making bad choices for you as to who specifically to attack or who does what when. It's like you don't really have control over the battle, and can only give hints as to what you want to happen.
Music and sound are decent and hold up very well to the rest of the game. I wouldn't say the music is beautiful, but some of it is haunting and will stick in your head. The rare pre-rendered cinematics are of awful quality, both from a compression and model/detail viewpoint. The ending, after such a long game, is quite long, but very uneventful and boring. Many story elements do not come to a close, and it is not very satisfying
There is too much goofiness in the game (like enemies telling jokes to make your party laugh and lose a turn), and too much of the standard rpg crap also, like sleep spells and poison spells that always seem to work on your party no matter how strong they get. In fact, that's this game's biggest weakness. It is just so unoriginal.
I'd recommend this only to hard core console rpg'ers and big Dragon Warrior fans.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 07/01/03, Updated 07/01/03
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