Review by Dragnfly

"Great story. Nice look... That's about it."

I was very excited to hear Chrono Trigger had a sequel, but following Square's latest games, I didn't give in to the hype. Let's face it, Square has been slacking. Although the games are still far above average, they're not what they used to be.
Chrono Cross is a prime example of this trend. Let's start with the worst and work up to the best, shall we?
The combat system... This is a very creative and innovative way at annoying people. For the first time I can remember since the NES, there was no in-game combat tutorial. Normally, I would just read the instruction book, but Chrono Cross is very special. After weeding through an absolutely useless instruction book I proceeded to spend an entire afternoon figuring out exactly how everything works with combat. I still can't quite get the Elements to go where I want.
In combat, you can do 3 different basic attacks. The stronger they get, the less their chance to hit is. Each level attack also takes up one of your seven stamina points, depending on what level attack it is. When an attack is successful, the accuracy of all attacks moves up a bit. This means alot of 1/3/3 combos.
The magic system for combat involves attacking your enemy to build up a characters `elements level' so they can cast stronger spells. Sadly, you can only have a few spells equipped at one time. Also, you can only cast each spell once per combat, and I found some spells, although not consumable, would still vanish from my inventory after used.
Apart from watching your HP, stamina, spell level, elemental alignment, and enemy, you also have to keep a close watch on a little 3-sectioned oval at the top of the screen called the field. Basically, when you or your opponent casts a red spell, the rightmost field turns red, pushing the other colours outward.
So why bother? Because if you succeed in turning the entire field one colour all spells of that colour will do a tad more damage.
What does this all mean for the combat system? Do basic attacks. Magic is far too weak and unpredictible in battle because monsters tend to keep you from using their weaknesses at full power.
The next-to-worst part would be slowdown. This game chops up and slows down very often while in towns or dungeons. Looking at the 3D models, I can't tell why.
Next would be the scripting. Plainly put, the heroes just don't seem to follow a trend in their own personalities. It's as if all the heroes are the same, just with a different way of talking. The villains however are very distinct from one another.
Speaking of characters, that's exactly what this game is bragging. With 40+ characters, only 3 have a personality for any more than 20 minutes. Also, I find that I pick Serge and my two leads, then leave the rest in a corner. The story doesn't require this many people, so why are they here? It can't be for cannon fodder because the power levels of the characters are generally equal, save from some very minor differences.
The worlds are good, but I find that the worlds are actually smaller than they were in Chrono Trigger, which suprised me at the end of the game.
We're hitting the finer parts of the game now...
Such as the soundtrack. This works wonderfully with the game. I'd say even moreso than in the Final Fantasy soundtracks.
Also, the graphics are beautiful. They aren't quite on par with modern Playstation technology (remember that FMV graphics are irrelivant to a game's quality) but they are deffinately noteworthy.
Then, we come to the finest part: The story, Square's legacy and promise to the videogame world. The Chrono Cross storyline is just as beautiful as the first, despite the bad character dialogue. If only this were a book or anime or something where you could skip any non-development-related cinimas. With plenty of mystery which begins almost immediately after gameplay, this is a story I am jealous of.
So is it worth it?
To buy? Heck no. Chrono cross is deffinately what I'd call an `extended rental' or a `borrow it from a friend'. Don't let anybody spoil the story for you, but the game is simply not worth the purchase price because it's flaws outweigh it's good points. In a videogame, the core necessity is fun gameplay. Chrono Cross is downright annoying to play. True, the story is good, but combat is sickeningly slow and, although far spread, you will find yourself cursing each battle because it deters you from the story.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 08/22/00, Updated 08/22/00

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