Review by Garan
"Sadly, a disappointment"
Over the past several months, I have heard many great things about Chrono Cross. So many, in fact, that it sounded like this was going to be one of the best games ever. I wish that had turned out to be true.
In a lot of ways, the gameplay of Chrono Cross is pretty enjoyable. Like the original, the ability to see the enemies on the field screen is a trend that most gamers appreciate. The battle system is fun but complicated. Unfortunately, it has one major flaw. In the later portions of the game, or in a New Game+, when your characters have thirty or more elemental slots to fill, it takes an unbearably long time to set up your characters. Changing characters is punished by having to remove all the magic from one character & put it in, SLOT BY SLOT, to the new character, which will take you several minutes each time you do this. This is a major annoyance. In the last two games of the Final Fantasy series, Square had the foresight to include a very handy switch function, which, if included in Chrono Cross, would have knocked off at least a couple of miserable hours from the overall length of the game and made the rest of the time spent a lot more enjoyable.
There are several portions of the story that are worthy of a 9 or even 10. Sadly, there is a lot of filler in between these moments. Of the 43 hours I spent playing the game, about a third were the typical Square brilliance I have come to love and to expect. The rest of the game is spent in anticipation of those parts. Also, the lack of focus on a smaller group of characters really hurts the story. While I must admit that I love the insanity of some of the heroes-- especially Mojo, Starky, and Turnip-- they were, in most cases, unnecessary and unused.
The graphics were quite well done. My only complaint is that the world it takes place in gets a bit boring, since most of the environments resemble one another and do not offer much variety. It's kind of like if Chrono Trigger all took place in 1000 A.D. The FMV's are all well done, but are fewer and do less to emphasize moments in the story than one would expect.
The music in Chrono Cross is probsbly the biggest disappointment of all. Yasunori Mitsuda is my favorite composer, ahead of even Uematsu. His prior games-- especially Xenogears-- have brilliant, dramatic scores that impact the gamer emotionally and draws the gamer into the story, making us care about what happens to the characters. Chrono Cross, at times, accomplishes this too, but, more often than not, I was left unfulfilled. Thankfully, the end boss piece is amazing, which saved some of my faith in Mitsuda. As far as the sound effects, they are done very well, but the ambient sounds do not make up for the weak soundtrack.
Chrono Cross is a fairly good game. But for those of us who have come to expect more from Square than good, it falls well short of its predecessors and expectations. I can say that it has made me want to play Chrono Trigger again though, which counts for something, but not much.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 08/26/00, Updated 08/26/00
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