Review by mashpotatoking

"OH! The main character is a sword wielding teenager...what a... surprise......"

Square Enix has been quite surprising lately. First, they come out with some duds, (Romancing Saga, Full metal Alchemist) then they come outs with some really good games, (Radiata Stories, Dragon Quest 8). Now, once again they are dabbling in another series that they started many years ago. Grandia has been a mixed series for me. I liked the first one, but the second was not as fun for me. Since this installment has nothing to do with nay of the other games, I really gave in to buying this game because of my love of Square Enix, not because I thought that it might be the next best RPG. But when I brought it home and popped it in, one thing immediately sprung to my mind. This is a very ordinary RPG. You have everything, the Japanese pop music, the predicable storyline, and the extremely addictive battle system. Square Enix has once again done what they do best, creating a game where the fun stops after the battle ends.

When you pop in the first out of two discs, the first thing that you hear is the theme song. The Japanese Pop theme song. Now your probably saying to yourself, “Well duh, almost every RPG these days has an annoying pop song”. Well, you would be right, but this one is even worse. The English version is badly translated, so you will find your self hearing crappy American pop singers, singing a crappy Japanese pop song. Good start for the game so far.

The layout of the whole game is very well done. When you get to the title screen it's very simple. The in game menu is very organized also. The most innovative thing out of them all is the battle screen layout. Of course at the bottom you have the characters' names, their stats, like HP, MP, and SP,(I'll explain about SP later). But at the top left of the screen you will see a circle with all of the people fighting's images on it. Instead of just taking turns when attacking, you have to wait until your image gets all the way around the circle. If you get attacked at a certain point on that circle, you get canceled, so you have to wait longer to attack. This is actually pretty fun and it keeps the game flowing very smoothly, which not any RPGs do these days.

The fighting is very simple. You can attack, which is just normal damage, (just to note, unlike many other games like this, a normal attack consists of two swings of the sword, for example). You can pick a cancel attack, which can stop an enemy from attacking for a longer period of time. Like I said before, you can only cancel when the enemy is on a certain point of that circle. You can pick defend, which is exactly how it sounds. You can use an item. You can also use a strategy, like if you don't want to control your other party members. Magic is something you could use if you don't want to go with the ordinary attack. You can also pick to use a special attack. Each special attack uses SP. You gain SP every time you just attack normally. The fighters and enemies move around the battle area the whole time so it does not feel like your just standing in one place and going back and forth and attacking. If the enemy is moving, an you go to attack, and he moves out of the way to attack someone else, that considered a missed attack. This makes the game feel unlike a typical turn based RPG.

There are many different Magic and Special moves. You can buy magic from towns for gold, but you can only get new Special movies by attacking normally and by using your previous special movies. There are different kinds of magic. Fire, like Burn, Burnstrike, etc. Water like, Crackle, Snooze, etc. Wind like, Howl, Howlstrike, etc. Then Earth like, Cure, and Tremor. Special moves usually are very powerful, so you always gotta decide carefully on what enemy you want to use it on.

Here's a question for the developers. Why do you insist on enrolling the worst voice actors ever to do the parts for video games? I tell you peoples, if your going into this game waiting for some mature sounding characters, think again. The main girl character(her name is Alfina) has a voice so squeaky that I literally just turned the sound off and skipped the scenes where she talked. You won't even care if you miss part of the story, as long as you don't have to listen to he voice!!

But just because the character's voice is bad, does not mean that character is bad, or that the storyline around her is bad right? Well, normally you would be right, but in Grandia 3's case, it would. The story goes a little like this. A teenager,(big surprise) named Yuki wants to fly. He's a wannabe pilot that cant ever build the right plane. Well, eventually as he flies and crashes a plane in the middle of no where, he meets a girl teenager,(another huge surprise) and he vows to take her to her church. Even though they had just met. The girl is a “communicator” named Alfina. Do you recognize the storyline? You should it's basically the same as many other games.

If you wanted to get specific, let's compare this to Final Fantasy 10. First, you have a teenager in a place he is not familiar with. Like Tidus from FF10 and Yuki. Tidus woke up on a mysterious beach, where he was lost. Yuki lands in a forest where he is lost. Yuna is a summoner, a person who fights with big creatures. Alfina is a communicator, a person who talks with big creatures. Yuna needs to complete her journey to a big place,(please forgive me fans of FF10 for not being able to spell that place's name). Alfina needs to get to her church, which is quite big. Are you peoples seeing what I mean? Do not play this game for the storyline. You will be completely disappointed.

Enough of the gripes, lets get to something that is good in Grandia 3. This game looks great. I would not say that it looks as good as “Dragon Quest 8", but it has to be the second best looking RPG on the PS2. Every character looks really thought out. Their wardrobes are very unique and elegant. Even the food in the game looks amazing. Another thing that surprised me was the detail in the environments. There are really huge mountains that you climb, you can see many things in the backgrounds. When you're in a forest, all of the trees look very realistic. There are logs laying around, bushes that you can walk through and they sway and stuff. The enemies are also very detailed. Square Enix has a habit of re using enemies in different series, but they really must of tried hard this time. When there is a creature with scales, you can really see the roughness of the monster's skin. The birds that you fight really look like they have to keep flapping their wings to stay in the air,(unlike some games, where the bird just floats there and flaps it's wings every now and then). Overall, I was very impressed with the graphical look of the game.

Renting this game will probably already be a priority to most RPG gamers, but the real question is whether this is a buy or not a buy. Graphics and an incredibly addictive battle system really bring the game recognition, but the voice overs and storyline really drag it down. For gamers that like a deep storyline, please rent this game. But only rent it. It's not very long, so you could probably finish it in the week you get to rent it. Overall: 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 03/27/06

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