Review by aznYinYang

Reviewed: 02/28/06

Linear and short, but still a good game.

Grandia III, ever since its release in Japan in August of 2005, it has been giving fans of the Grandia series a reason to look forward to February 2006. I must admit, expectations were set a little high.

The story seems to be more or less, a "cookie-cutter" -- Boy meets girl, boy saves girl, a group of people who are the only ones capable of saving the world is formed, girl must be saved again, boy saves girl. Now, even with having one of the generic story outlines guiding the game, Grandia III does what Final Fantasy was able to do many times over -- provide a cast of colorful characters, show a nice amount of character development, and offer strategically addictive gameplay mechanics.

You'll start out by playing Yuuki, an inspired, young pilot, who is ready to get his wings and fly. Shorty, there after, other characters are introduced in the story. From a swash-buckling sea captain, Alonso. An adorable and innocent Communicator of the Guardians, Alfina. To Yuuki's mother, Miranda.

The battle system for Grandia III, can be arguably the best, ever. Battles can range from swift and easy to prolonged and difficult. Factors key in on your decisions and the game offers an 'in-battle helping aid' that the player can easily toggle on or off in the menu screen. Battle encounters are optional and you can even get an early jump on your enemy by striking them on the map before engaging in combat. Be warned, enemies can also catch your party off guard by walking up from behind you on the map. Grandia III also offers an interesting card game of "Arrange Dice" -- which you'll find yourself playing for rare items later in the game.

The cut-scenes are done well and voice acting are great, however, Grandia III also has many cut-scenes that are guided by text -- which is slightly unacceptable now, considering that most of these text-driven cut-scenes are between the main set of characters. Grandia III also seems to have trouble balancing out the amount of gameplay compared to the amount of story that it wants to flesh-out.

In numerous cases, you'll find your party of characters, dining at the dinner table. You'll then have to select each individual, one after the other, to display conversational text. There is also a segment in the game where Yuuki will have to talk to "Legendary Pilot Sky Captain Schmidt", and after a brief cut-scene, you'll have control of Yuuki again, only to relocate Schmidt to initiate another brief cut-scene.

Grandia III is definitely cut-scene driven, however, the repetition of occasional breakups into text cut-scenes, minor fetch-quests, and cut-scene initiative gameplay, does make the player want to skip through the story. By doing so, Grandia III loses out on much of the humor and sentimental moments that "should have been" instead of "could have been." All which make the game short.

Grandia III is also, highly linear. With a beautiful environment, you are set to walk on the paved roads only. The map sections are broken up too often, though loading time is fast, that still doesn't give the excuse of having numerous sections of maps the lengths that can be traveled from one end to another in less then two seconds by running.

The camera is also a hassle to deal with. Grandia III allows you to have full control of moving the camera -- left or right. The camera becomes a massive annoyance in narrow hallways and corridors, where the camera acts as its own character and won't budge any further in either direction, due to colliding with walls. It can best be described as "the clinging cat" camera, since it likes to latch onto corners and won't let go until you've stretched it out a good distance.

I also found that in most of the areas, the textures of the map can be seen "vibrating" back and forth. Some areas, such as a giant-mechanical, floating castle, have lines throughout the walls and floors that are easily seen and can be seen through. After the first area of Anfog, other places seem bland and average. Game Arts did an excellent job creating stunning skies and ocean reflections, but I also wished they took more time polishing and elaborating the other environments.

There are only small handful of side-quests, that are uninspiring to finish. The music is forgettable, but not entirely. Having Miz lend her vocal talents and using "In the Sky" for the opening theme was a nice touch.

Though, with all the minor problems stacking up with Grandia III, its "saving grace" through it all is the gameplay and characters. 8 out of 10.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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