Review by couchtater12345
"One of the better JRPGs released this gen without a doubt *No Spoilers*"
As an opening let me just let it be known that this ISN'T you're typical JRPG with classic based gameplay and cheesy "Follow your heart, love will prevail!" dialogue throughout the entire story. If you're looking for game that is based around it's great battle system and a plot that's really going to make you explore and think then this is your game.
For many, the story was lackluster at best but if you really try to seek it out through talking to NPC's it'll make sense. The plot takes places in Basel, a tower structure that was built after the old humans more or less destroyed the world, that holds the remaining human population. At the apex of this structure is an almost sentient machine that seems to be related to the fate of humans, in that it is thought that it controls life spans, deaths, etc. Underneath this machine are the Cardinals, leaders of a theocratic government that control different segments of Basel, that more or less inspire faith in "God" in Basel's citizens.
The story is centered around a group of three "hunters", adventurers who takes jobs if you will, who become tangled up in a conspiracy way above their head. Throughout the game, the plot is advanced through chapters which will have cutscenes in the beginning, followed by some central mission you have to complete, and then usually a cutscene at the end. The scenes at the beginning will seem to be unrelated and you'll be thinking, "WTF is going on" for the good first half of the game but if you pay close attention as you progress to the end of the game, you'll see how all the pieces start fitting together.
The great thing about the story in this game is that it doesn't take itself too seriously and probably will remain as one of the funniest games I've ever played. The protagonist have great dialogue and chemistry and I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times. Oftentimes Leanne, the female protagonist, will say some cheesy, cliche JRPG bullcrap and Zephyr or Vashyron will counter with some logical, "this is how it is" response. Vashyron also brings some refreshing sexual innuendo to the game that doesn't come off as awkward and you'll find yourself busting out laughing at some of the stuff he says. It really keeps you wanting to complete those story missions just so you can see them interact.
Overall, the overarching story is going to be lacking to most, but the chance is you're not going to notice this as you'll be too busy listening to the comical dialogue between the main characters and wanting to use the battle system again.
The only reason I didn't give this a 10 is because I don't believe in perfect scores. So I gave the gameplay the highest score without declaring it infallible.
The gameplay is an interesting spin on turn based gameplay. Instead of the traditional 5 ton swords wielded by characters who couldn't bench 100 pounds, we have characters wielding magnums and submachine guns. Battles are based around two important types of damage: Scratch and Direct Damage.
Scratch damage is the blue damage done by submachine guns. This is where you will be doing most of your damage to enemies as direct damage can barely put a dint in enemy hp. However there is a catch to scratch damage. You can't kill enemies with scratch damage alone and until you follow up with a pistol to create direct damage, the enemy will recover damage that you've done by your submachine attacks.
Direct damage is the damage that turns that blue damage into true damage, caused by pistols, and will cause however much blue damage you have to be destroyed on a enemy's hp bar. I like to think of direct damage as the trigger that causes scratch damage to take an effect. Direct damage can also cause Gauge breaks, which will allow you to replenish hero gauges (gauges that allow you to do a hero attack, more or less a really long attack sequence).
In addition to these basics, the battle system implements game changers like tri-attacks that initially you may find unnecessary but later will become invaluable, bonus shots, and smackdowns. There's also duel wielding, ammo affects, grenade affects, and a first aid system that will allow you to decide if you'd rather take an offensive approach with duel wielding, or if you'd rather go defensive and use one gun and capitalize with ammo effects and healing.
Leveling is done by increasing one's skill with submachine guns and pistols, it's important not to let your characters get too unbalanced as you'll quickly be under leveled if you don't switch up guns with you characters in later chapters. Using grenades is also helpful to get those couple of levels to boosts your teams HP.
At the end of each chapter you'll also encounter a boss, no matter how much is doesn't seem to fit it with the story. They're all actually really fun, and you'll find yourself having to implement different tactics to take down different types of bosses. The game does a good job of switching it up between easy bosses and grueling hard ones so that you have to think differently at how you approach killing the bastard; do you kill the minions and then go for big boy, or ignore the minions completely and take out the boss as fast as possible? Decisions, decisions...
Overall, the gameplay really is addicting and even though it'll take a while to figure out how to use it to the best of your advantage, once you do you'll find yourself wanting to fight all the time. HOWEVER! I do advise that you go through all the tutoring lessons offered in the arena to understand how to fight, if you don't do this chances are you'll be lost or miss out on all the battle system has to offer.
I'm not going to write a whole lot about graphics because they're not a huge issue in this game. The character models are pretty good and the RoF team did a good job of implementing physics that you can see when wind or momentum causes character's hair to blow naturally, clothes to move, etc. The textures are meh at best, they could've of done a better job of making the environment and up close specs looking more polished (like lines in the hands, some textures in the skin, some rocks look unnaturally smooth) but none of this hinders the game in any way and I've heard almost no one complain about the graphics. The cutscenes are also well done so props to that.
On the other hand...the lip syncing is straight awful. "Your character will say "I like pie" and then two seconds later the lips will move in semblance of something that may be "I like pie" or something completely different like "I did your mom last night she was awful." The cutscenes have a surprising amount of characters talking in their head so their lips don't move, and it'll confuse you because internal dialogue and character interaction dialogue sounds the same. Best idea is to turn on subtitles so that you don't have enough time to really analyze the syncing.
The soundtrack is fantastic. The world map classical music is really epic and the game switches up to a bunch of different song ranging from hard rock during boss sequences and the arena. I really thought the soundtrack was fantastic and if you find yourself getting tired of the music you can always put on your own music. The sound effects are fine I guess, they sound like guns and that's about all that matters. The VA's also do a good job of implementing believable emotion in their characters and you'll probably recognize a couple of the actors (Tales of Symphonia Lloyd Irving actor takes on Zephyr's voice).
Overall, sounds great.
Overall: Despite the story, you'll find yourself wanting to play through every chapter of this game just for the battle system. This is really a gameplay driven JRPG versus a story driven one.
Story: Lacking to most but it can make sense if you search hard enough
Gameplay: Awesome. You'll love it once you figure it out.
Graphics: Pretty good. Nothing to blow your load about, but then again nothing to complain about either.
Sound: Great soundtrack. VA's do a good job. Custom soundtrack if you don't like the music.
Length: Anywhere from 30 hours if you do straight story missions, to 80 or 100 hours if you do the Arena, side missions, and the ball-busting hard Neverland.
Phew that took forever, hope this helps!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/22/10
Game Release: Resonance of Fate (US, 03/16/10)
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