Review by PeTeRL90
"An average RPG, but its flaws really takes its toll on the game."
I'll say it right now. Grandia III is my first game in the Grandia series, so I won't be comparing it to any other game in the series. However, the Grandia franchise is mostly known for its battle system, which is arguably one of the best there is out there in todays market. But a great battle system alone doesn't make a great RPG, and I think that Square Enix may have forgotten that.
The story follows the life of a young aspiring pilot named Yuki. Yuki who only lives with his mother, Miranda, has dreamed of flying ever since seeing his hero Schmidt do it on the big screen. During a test flight, Yuki's plane crashes, and is then soon met with Alfina, a young mysterious girl at the time. With Yuki's involvement with Alfina's life, Yuki will have more on his hands than flying. Though that set up may sound a bit original, it's not. As you venture deeper into the game, you'll find out how overly cliche the story line and characters are, especially the "I want everything to be rainbows and puppy dog farts" main characters. This can be quite irritating, especially if you've seen this kind of plot over and over again.
Graphics wise, Grandia III delivers. The character models are pretty sharp and are mostly detailed. Although I won't say they're the best graphics the PS2 has to offer, I think they did a great job with them and they're eye candy if anything. The environments are large and beautiful as well, but some of them are dulled out from time to time.
Grandia III has a mediocre soundtrack at best. While there are some themes that you'll probably like, there's just too many that aren't that memorable, or just don't catch your attention at all whenever you're playing. However, the voice work is pretty good in the game, but I would expect nothing less from a Square Enix game. The VAs pour out the emotion when the time comes, and the facial expressions are just excellent.
As I mentioned earlier, the Grandia franchise is mostly known for its battle system, and it should be praised. Grandia III has an excellent battle system (my second personal favorite) that involves timing and strategy if you wish to survive some of the tougher enemies later in the game. Basically, there's a wheel type of object in the upper left corner of the screen. You have your characters and the enemies on it. Each circle moves around, and once a characters icon reaches the COM line, they'll get to choose their action. After choosing their action, then their character icon on the wheel will go to the ACT line, which executes their command. However, depending on which attack you use, it'll either take a second or longer ot reach the ACT line. Normal attacks usually reach the ACT line the fastest, whereas Magic and Special Moves reach the ACT line a bit slower, depending on the level of the magic and the level of the Special Move. I believe this is a great way to do battles, mainly because you can look at the enemies side of the wheel, and base your attacks off that.
During battles, your enemies will have the same kind of wheel, and depending on their actions, their icon going to the ACT line will either be quick or slow. However, if you're able to catch an enemy that's between the COM and ACT line, you're able to cancel out their attack or magic by either using a certain Special Move or a Critical attack. If you do happen to cancel an enemies attack, they'll go back to the beginning of the wheel and will have to wait longer to get their turn to come up. This brings a lot of strategic value to the battles, making you think out your attacks instead of just mashing X to get through a battle.
Another thing I liked about Grandia III was the Mana Egg Fusion system. During the game, you'll find different kinds of Mana Eggs, each with their own boosts to certain element types and each with different spells for you to extract. During the game, you'll be able to fuse Mana Eggs into stronger Mana Eggs, which can result in some excellent eggs that raise all elements by +3 (the max in the game) or some eggs that have rare, powerful spells that you can extract from them. This is a good experimenting process, but it feels like it's a bit mandatory since you'll need those powerful spells late into the game, so it's basically forced upon you to experiment with the eggs instead of just doing it with your own free will.
However, with the good, comes the bad. Grandia III is a very linear game, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that. It's basically you go to Point A to Point B. I can see yourself telling me "but all RPGs are like that". See, the problem with Grandia III in that aspect is that there are hardly any sidequests or distractions for you to do or play around with during the game. You're basically running throughout the entire game, staying on the same track the entire time. And even then with the bare minimum of sidequests there are to do, they're hardly rewarding in the least. The game, though, has an average difficulty, but is rather short because of the lack of sidequests, and you can probably finish it around 25-30 hours in your first playthrough.
All in all, Grandia III certainly isn't the best RPG out there, nor is it the best RPG for the PS2, but it's certainly worth a look for fans of the series, or for fans of the genre that want to try a great battle system out and not care about the heavily cliche storyline or characters. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the game, because I did, but the flaws it has certainly takes its toll on the game, considering all of these flaws are very obvious and sometimes are hard to look past.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/16/07
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