Review by xubelox
My biggest gaming disappointment ever
The Grandia series is one my second favorite RPG series' ever ( Mother being the first) as well as one of my favorite game series' ever. Grandia 1 and 2 were amazing while Xtreme was pretty mediocre, not that I expected much from a spin-off title. When I heard about the coming of Grandia 3, I was very excited. I mean, it had a number in the title. It was a sure sign that it was going to be a solid adventure that wasn't just solely based on the battles. The previews showed great promise in quality and the day it was released, I bought it. Unfortunately, I found out the 4 year wait for the ultimate game was mostly in vain.
Well they aren't the best for it's time, but they're still pretty damn good. The characters seem to lack such details as nostrils, but I'll cut it some slack as it seems to be going more for art (a sort of 3D anime) rather than realism. The environments are pretty rich, and the characters look decent. A gripe I had was that the spells and special moves didn't look half as cool as they did in Grandia 2. All in all, it's a fairly pretty game, but beauty is only skin deep...or whatever the video game equivilent of skin is...
The battle system hasn't really innovated as much as people say it has since the previous Grandia games, but luckily it was innovative to begin with. The only changes are that the IP meter now goes around in a circle and the possibility of aerial finishes exists. The improvements are just icing on the cake, so I can't really complain.
Outside the battles, things still go pretty smoothly. You control the main character much like you controlled characters in most games throughout the N64 and PS1 era. It feels a bit smoother than the last 2 games in the series. Also, you're able to attack enemies with your sword before going into battle. This won't damage them, but it will stun them giving you the chance to surprise them. Ay problem I have is that while travelling, only Yuki, the main character, is shown. I'd much rather preferred the old way where the whole party follows you around. Also, alot of the time was spent trudging through dungeons that I got sick of pretty fast. Just when I'd think that I was done in an area, I'd the 4th or 5th portion. And I couldn't recover nearly enough, as only certain swirling-coloured save orbs (replacing the psychedelic cones) allowed that feature unless I wanted to backtrack to the beginning of the dungeon. Would it have killed them to save me that pointless burden and just let me recovered at any save points? I'm ambivalent on the new SP system. It allows one to recover SP in battle and extra if they don't get hurt, but doesn't replenish when one recovers. Still, I probably would have stuck with the old way if I could. Overall, the game mostly lives up to it's standards here.
The story is the most important part of Grandia, and RPGs in general. It's hard to find incentive to fight when I barely cared about whats going on.
It pretty much follows the same formula as the other Grandia games. An evil God is being resurrected ect ect. The characters are very similar to the ones in previous installments too. Alfina is pretty much Elena with a slightly different wardrobe and hair style, crude beastboy Ulf is a mix of Rapp and Mareg, Meloncholy and emotionally confused Hect shares the same traits as both Liete and Tio, and seductive sorceress-of some kind Dahna inherited the bra size of Millenia (I mean they're friggin' huge! Was it really necessary to make them THAT big?). The main man Yuki doesn't borrow too heavily from others (thought there is definately traces of Justin's "never give up, lets adventure all the time" personallity in him) I found him to be a bit annoying.
Despite the fact that it's very similar in structure, the story is alot weaker than 1 & 2. It's barely an improvement over Xtreme actually. It barely explains anything along the way. The "main" villain was barely involved in the story and I didn't even know his name until almost the very end. At least he wasn't a corrupt authority figure who was perceived as good but slightly shady. Instead, he's just some non-descript guy (other than having eyebrows which form a perfect V on his forhead) who we know virtually nothing about.
Some of the other villains were just as poorly developed. They are given the initial pretense of being important but end up being phased out of the story after a few appearances. We never know their motivation or backstories. Whats worse than the villains is their stupid plot. It just seems so nihilistic and pointless. They seem to just want to turn everyone into glass. No, seriously. There's nothing much more to it than that.
At times the story moved so fast I couldn't believe how quickly it was progressing, but it was progressing to nothing all that interesting most of the time. It was like it was burning bridge after bridge of which the story never came back to. Also, the voice acting and diologue was so corny at times that it made Grandia 2 sound like the greatest thing ever written. But unlike Grandia 2, it didn't have much to make up for those flaws. When the end finally came, it was almost depressing on how little closure it offered.
The new theme really took me by surprise. I guess it wasn't all that bad but it doesn't even compare to something like A Deus or the original Grandia theme (which is suspiciously absent in this game). Basically, it's a cheesy sounding pop rock song.
Most of the in-game sound wasn't too special, but usually fit the atmosphere. The store music was really catchy and I heard a remix of the old upbeat tune from Grandia that usually plays in Hotels somewhere too. In the long run, it's not unbearable to listen to, but usually isn't huge a joy either.
Value and replayability: 5
When I saw that it was a 2 disk game, I expected something as long as Grandia 1. Instead I got something a little shorter than Grandia 2. That was pretty disappointing. There wasn't any secret dungeons or anything either. I really don't expect to ever play this game again for a long time if ever, and I've played through the others thrice.
I'd recommend getting this after a price drop to 30 or 40 dollars (thats in canadian). A rental probably wouldn't allow enough time to finish it, and the $60 I bought it for was not worth it.
All in all, this was the gaming disappointment of my life. If anything good can come of it, maybe they can salvage the new good ideas for Grandia 4 when it comes out in another 4 or so years, if ever.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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