Review by Kaiden
You know those RPGs that immediately stick in your mind thanks to their storyline? Grandia III is one of those. Now add in a great battle system, a mix of unforgettable characters that finally act like real people, an exceptional voice acting. Now glue everything up with good graphics, a great soundtrack and... sounds enough already? Developed by Square-Enix, which actually reigns over the RpG franchising, this game is easily snobbed by the big crowd and only die-hard fans will likely buy it. Pity.
"I'll build the perfect airplane!"
Grandia III's main character is called Yuki, which could look like your everyday 17 years old boy with blue hair (he kinda looks like Fayt of Star Ocean: TTEOT, just with a pair of big goggles): he wields a sword and can use magic (as every single character in the game: something that isn't explained, probably because it isn't to be). He lives in a village with his mother Miranda (and... well, he even calls her that way!) who could even look younger than him... all is peaceful. Yuki dreams of flying in the skies with an airplane, following the steps of his hero, Captain Schmidt... during one of these trips, he bumps into a mysterious (and may I add, really pretty) girl named Alfina...
This game doesn't feature, indeed, many playable characters, but those you can use are greatly designed and have got an incredible voice acting; plus, they actually act (assonance here) like real people: Grandia III isn't cliché at all: you won't find the brave hero, the weak princess, the strong and fat warrior. Not at all: you'll be amazed by the characters' personalities and actions. Not even Final Fantasy (except for VIII) can be compared to this game as for characters. You'll learn to love the main characters (that is assured), while you'll maybe hate others (including the villain...). This is one of Grandia III's strenghts.
Who said that "Linear" meant "Boring"?
One of the most followed critics towards Grandia III is its linear advancement in the storyline: you don't have a World Map you can walk on (but rather you'll be able to use vehicles: I won't spoil anything but you could guess it) and most times you just have to go through a cave or some areas to trigger the next cutscene and advance in the story. Battles can get a little boring at times, but we'll discuss that later. You have cities where you can buy healing items, weapons and such.
To destroy this critic: when on this aforementioned World Map, you can visit places you've already been to, but you'll only find enemies you've already fought (and beaten, one should assume), so there's no point in going back. Plus, it's natural to get a goal to reach. One could complain about the lack of sidequests... well, they're not "sidequests", but there are some minigames you can play and collections you can fill. All in all, I find that Grandia's got such an appealing storyline, that you will never care about its linearity but will rather be absolutely willing to know more and to go on.
Little technical paragraph 'bout Musics & Graphics
Let's firstly talk about the soundtrack: it's amazing! At the beginning of the game, before starting or loading, you can see a CG movie, with a beautiful sung song, then you're awarded with the real beginning CG movie, which is splendid. Grandia III's main theme is just so joyful that it immediately sticks in your mind, it's even retaken and replayed in some battle themes! This is a nice touch. Plus, sound effects are very good, with a merit note for those of the final spells and attacks. I mentioned voice acting before, it means that moves' names are yelled too, with some additional lines, like Yuki yelling "Feel the power of my blade! Whirlwind!" when using, infact, Whirlwind. Now, you must know that every character can equip every spell, and every character's got a different lline for every spell! This isn't something you find in most games, I think... all in all, however, I think that the soundtrack is great (there are also some weird themes...), sad when to be sad, happy when to be happy.
Now, graphics... this is a bit of a weak point... but it hugely depends if you've already played, say, Final Fantasy XII (which I have). Don't get me wrong, though: Grandia III's graphics are truly beautiful, they aren't top notch but can really live up to a great reputation. You just have to get used to them: they look like Star Ocean: TTEOT's graphics a lot, so you may find some familiar elements. CG movies aren't even remotely like Final Fantasy FMVs but they're nice nonetheless (it's not that the graphic changes so much from the regular game one...). Overall, anyway, the graphics are pretty good and won't disappoint you. Plus, the areas are all great and well designed!
Look at that... that... er... that grid?
Ok, if you're a game fan who's already played the game, you'll probably know I'm going to talk about the gameplay, well, the battles, because outside battles, Grandia is like every other RPG: go there, open chests on the way, battle monsters (there aren't random battles: it's more like Kingdom Hearts: COM on the GBA: there are monsters roaming around and you can decide whether to fight them or not, you can surprise them or be surprised), save at savespheres (there are 2 kinds of them: the rainbow ones also replenish HP and MP)... but battles are different. Now, before any of you gets confused: they aren't real time: they are turn-based. Now that that is clear, let's talk about this "grid": when in battle, you'll see characters' faces on the top-left corner, advancing on a round grid: when they reach a certain point, you can select a command, which could be Attack, Magic or such... depending on what you chose, there'll be a bit to wait, then the character will perform the attack. The pace quickens... quickly, anyway, 'cause characters and monsters can freely go back and forth inside a battleground (this is how you mainly miss attacks!). If a strong attack hits you when you're waiting that bit of time required for your command, your attack'll be "cancelled" and the character's face will go back a lot on the grid. Vice versa for monsters, of course. There should be something to say about special moves: you just learn them by battling monsters, you can power them up and they use up SP. There are magics, of course, you gain them with eggs or you can buy them. Then there are skills, you find them in books or you buy them.
The Final Judgement
Buy this game at once, because I'm sure you won't regret playing another Star Ocean: TTEOT, will you? Be warned, by this I'm not saying that this game is just a mere clone of the overmentioned one, but it's just got his greatness!
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 05/14/06
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