Review by badazzbuddy117

"Not a single sidequest?"

---------“Kingdom Hearts II is coming out in a month and I needed an RPG and fast”. I heard about Grandia III and looked at screenshots of the game on the internet and thought to myself, “Hmm, this should tidy me over till KH2 arrives.” Well, 4 days after I bought it, here I am writing this review. I'll get to the gist of it. Grandia III is short. I mean I could play Grandia 3 three times over and it would barely equal enough game time of….let's say Dragon Quest 8. But I'm not reviewing DQ8, I'm supposed to be talking (well, not so much talking….more like writing) about Grandia 3. Despite the replay value, will the overall presentation of the game be enough to make this a great RPG?

Grandia 3 starts off with a kid named, unfortunately, Yuki, who wishes to become an air pilot. He wishes to fly away from his village to explore the entire world. One day, after finishing his 19th plane, he goes out flying and surprisingly, his mother (Miranda) secretly comes along. The plane fails though, and crashes into the woods nearby their hometown. Miranda and Yuki meet a mysterious girl, Alfina, and she goes with them on a adventurous journey to discover the real truth about everything she believes in.

Sounds pretty interesting, huh? Well after certain characters leave (I won't say who), the story becomes a mass of clichéd themes. An example is the old saying, “Love will conquer all.” Then the real evil guys come, and the players have to defeat them to save their world. It's been done before. I will give Grandia 3 some credit for trying to keep the story going with numerous amounts of cutscenes, but they didn't have an effect on me: the story still bored the crud out of me.

Well, speaking of cutscenes, the graphics in the game are nicely polished. Cutscenes are frequent (probably one every couple of hours) and look excellent, the character models have very detailed expressions, and the environment looks decent. I wish I could say the same for the monsters. Game Arts rushed the monster designs…you could clearly tell. There are probably a maximum of 25 different designs in the whole game, and the rest of the forty-something monsters are just colored differently. Even though the boss battles are the only fights that interested me (since the enemies are unique and powerful), I was so tired of fighting the same freaks over again.

It was even worse fighting the enemies because of the lengthy dungeons, which leads us to gameplay. A few dungeons can last up to two hours and beyond, and get repetitive fast, but thank Game Arts they did not make the battle system crappy. It is actually the most interesting system I have ever seen in an RPG. It is the high profile of this game and saves the game from receiving a lower score. The fighting is fast and furious: There is an IP Circle at the top left corner of the screen, which acts as an Active Time Battle meter. The characters' and enemies' icons move clockwise until they reach the COM area. Once the characters reach this zone, the players can choose what attacks to use: Combo (attack), Critical, Special and the usual commands in any RPG (magic, flee, defend, item, etc.). The character icon then continues moving till it reaches the ACT area. This zone is where the character finally activates their move. Then it heads back to the top, where you must wait till it reaches COM again.

The enemies also move along the IP Circle (Gauge, whatever), and once they reach the ACT zone, they activate their attack. This part requires some thinking and good timing. This is where Critical comes in. Using a Critical attack against the enemy's attack when their icon is about to reach the COM zone will cancel their move and will spare you some life points. Game Arts tries to enhance the battle system by adding mana eggs and skills to the mix. Mana eggs increase a character's magic potential, while skills increase their abilities (more hp/mp, better ability to dodge, less mp consumption…you know..all that stuff) and skill books are used to enhance the skills. It's the only excellent part of gameplay. Oh, and Grandia 3 is also quite challenging. The boss fights are set up for 10 year olds for the first disc of the game, then the difficulty level picks up immensely.

The rest of it? Pure crap. I mean the game is soooooo linear, it's a one way path. Once players finish a dungeon…they have no reason to turn back toward it. Then afterward, the game holds your hand and tells you where to go on the world map…if you can call it that. Having only a choice of about 10 areas to go to doesn't sound the least bit exciting to me.

Sounds….hmm….I guess the right word for the sounds is…mediocre….average, but slightly below it. Voice acting is another factor that saves the game and the story. The voice acting is amazing. Some of the best VA I've ever heard in any RPG. I mean, the main character's voice actor is the same guy who is the VA for Vash. Frikkin Vash. From Trigun. That is great. Everyone's voice match their personality and they all combine together to make the story better than it deserves to be. Everyone except for Alfina. For some reason, I couldn't stand her voice…It was too high-pitched and whiny for me. Music is sub-par…the opening theme song is catchy, but kind of lame…and the songs in the dungeons and battles don't really stay in your head….players might hum it for a minute or two, and the next minute, they'll forget about it.

“Yay! I'm done with the game….now what?” Well, here are your options….you can start a new file from the beginning (not New game+) doing everything over again….or you can put this game on your shelf till it collects 500 years worth of dust. Seriously, there is not a single thing to do after finishing the game. No sidequests, whatsoever. I would not be so miffed if Grandia 3 was not linear, but nooooo…I can't even backtrack in the game since there are barely any places to go to! No sidequests, whatsoever. There aren't even any bonus features! No new game+, no secret dungeons, nada! Oh, did I mention no sidequests, whatsoever? Ok, maybe two (an optional boss/monster that is ridiculously easy to defeat, and a short sidequest where players help this detective boy solve crimes), but the two can be easily completed in a mere 20 minutes. Now, I'm talking about the standards of RPGs of today. Players need extras to keep them going even after the game. Once, players finish this 30-40 hour game, there is no reason to turn back and replay it…unless they want to.

Grandia 3 had a large amount of potential, but it fell short in the production. The game feels…how could I say it…unfinished. Some of the later characters in the story just plain disappear, and we will never know what plot hole they are swallowed into, areas on the world map are described when players press R1, but are not accessible, and worst of all, the amount of sidequests in the game makes me sad. I just feel Grandia 3 did not provide $50 worth of fun…maybe $20 worth of fun, but certainly not $50. And we just can't have that now, can we?

Air pilots
+Interesting story at first
+Nice character designs
+Pretty cutscenes
+One of the best battle systems I have played
+Lovely voice acting, except Alfina
+Challenging boss battles

Ninja Pirates
-Story falls straight down after the first 12 hours or so
-Arg! Ugly, ugly enemies
-Long and repetitive dungeons
-Linear gameplay
-World map is small…really small
-Alfina's voice…sorry, can't stand it
-Music is bleh……average or so
-No sidequests or bonuses


Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 02/28/06

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