Review by Galactus21

"Obligation of Heroism"

Learning Experience # 1 - Despite how much a developer tries to differentiate its combat system in an rpg, it's ultimately the story that keeps you immersed in the fictitious world of an rpg.

Grandia III fits this statement. Grandia III has a rock solid turn base combat system, but the story is poorly crafted. The characters were no better either. To make matters worst, the characters that you do care about, don't stick around for long. These are key ingredients to the success of an rpg.

Yuki our protagonist dreams of being a successful pilot. The adventure starts off with a quick clip of his lifelong hero at a theatre, as young Yuki watched in amazement. Quickly shifting and synching with the game's timeline, Yuki's mother makes a dashing appearance that gave off a fantastic feel for the character. Not too long into the game, you will be introduced to another character by the name of Alfina. The story is given in bits and pieces. In the beginning it seemed rather promising, but as the player delves further into the adventure, he/she will quickly realize how stale and unimaginative the story is. While rpgs are known for cliché storylines, Grandia III's storyline lacked the same freshly tuned and refinement that you would come from a good rpg. To make matters worst, 2 of your characters will leave, which leaves a gaping lineup in the unity of the team.

The turn base combat for the most part works well. There are times though, where this battle system doesn't flow very nicely. For instance, when you select an attack, there are times where you will be swinging at complete air when the enemy is long gone. In other turn base attack games, this would be an enemy dodging your attack. Enemies also dodge attacks in Grandia III. It's labeled as sway, as enemies move out of the way. However, there will be times when your character will swing at air, even when the enemy is far away. This is because of Grandia's fast moving combat system. The system itself is turn base, but your characters constantly move around on the battlefield. While the combat system feels fresh, you can't help but notice the lack of refinement at times. Due to this, as your player and enemies move around, you will have your characters completely swinging at air with enemies nowhere in sight. If this was a real time combat system, you can move your characters around, so it wouldn't be problematic. But for a turn base system, the computer zones in on the enemy you choose. When the enemy moves to attack, while you're attacking, there will be times when this scenario will occur.

Furthermore, the system revolves around several icons that represent the enemies and your characters, and at the end of the revolution is the turn of that character. Due to this, there will be times where characters will stand around for a period time, which disrupts the timing of the game. Not to mention, the ability to chain together combos with more than one character feels random due to this system. While the system definitely feels like a new perspective on turn base, the system itself felt awkward and lacked cohesiveness.

The story of an rpg is as important as its combat system. I believe the two go hand in hand. Without a good storyline, the combat system will simply get tiresome due to the long hours of the game. For Grandia III, it starts off on a high note. With a mysterious communicator and an aspiring young hero, the game seemed poise to make its way up the epic ladder. As the game moved forward though, the characters became unbearably annoying, which detracted from the overall storyline. To put more of an emphasis on the situation, it became worst when 2 of your main characters who you grew attached to decided to leave for no apparent reason. Simply put, the 2 annoying characters stayed and the 2 good ones left.

Learning Experience # 2- No matter how much you try, it's hard to like someone who has an annoying voice.

For the most part, the music did a great job at helping the me transition into the fictitious world of the game. I loved the upbeat music to go along with the characters. The soundtrack consisted of well chosen music that enhances the experience of the game. However, the character's voiceovers were so poorly done; one can't help but dislike some of the characters. The two main characters that had poorly enacted voices were the two that did not leave and the two that did a fairly good job, which added value to the characters ended up leaving early on in the game. Yuki and Alfina both had very squeaky voices. Throw that in with some cringe worthy lines, and the option of muting the game gets more and more desirable.

When it comes to graphics, you don't expect anything less than stellar from a company like Square-Enix. Known for its over dramatic and high detailed cut scenes, the company delivers yet again on breathtaking visuals. Although it's not quite the best on the PS2, Grandia's character design and highly detailed environments made it very pleasurable on the eyes. However, during a few of the fights, the game seemed to have a few hiccups in its frame rate.

Learning Experience # 3- Rpgs are not only about its imaginative world and immersive storylines, but it's also about how the game ultimately ties together. Simply put, Grandia III had a lot of potential to excel, but there was no cohesiveness.

Grandia III had a lot of potential. The combat system felt solid. It had a nice premise, but ultimately the lack of polish in the combat system left a lot to be desired. The storyline started off strong, but faded as the game went on. For a Japanese rpg, Grandia III is rather short. The game simply didn't blend each part together. Things felt out of sync, especially when considering how the plot moved along. It felt like the game threw plot twists at you for the sake of throwing it at you. All in all, Grandia III had its moments, but the disappointing events far outweigh the positives. Hopefully in Grandia IV, the company will take a bit more time to fine tune things. Grandia III is rather short for a jrpg, so a rental should suffice.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 11/21/06

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