Review by Rune

"Battle System > Story"

Grandia 3 Review

Grandia 3 is the third (technically) instalment in the Grandia series. It is a step up in some, but not all, departments… That is, if one would compare it to Grandia 2.

Gameplay: Might as well start the review with the best thing about this game: The gameplay is what one may come to expect from the Grandia series. There's a monster on the world map, you go up to it, thwack it with your sword, run into it… and the battle begins. The battle system in Grandia 3 is quite a good one. The turn order is based on a circular time gauge, when a character's portrait reaches the turn line, you choose an action for them to perform, and when the portrait reaches the end turn line, the action is performed. The enemies' portraits are also on the turn gauge, so you can estimate who will attack first and how much time there is to counterattack. Actions in battle include combos (damaging 2-hit attacks), criticals (less-damaging attacks, but ones that cancel an enemies move), special attacks that take up SP and magic attacks that take up MP. Also, if there is no avoiding an enemy's attack, you may defend to lower the damage. Aerial attacks are a new feature to the series, initiated when one character criticals an enemy who is charging an attack, and another character attacks the same enemy (who will have been vaulted into the air). There is a good deal of strategy needed to be successful, especially when the battles become more difficult. It is necessary to use spells, cancelling skills and criticals wisely, else the monsters will rack up damage on you and you will die. Having said that, the battle system is loads of fun. Other than the battle system, the world map controls are tight and responsive, the camera is a bit limited but sufficient, and flying thought the world map is fast and easy. Character customisation consists of equipping weapons, armor, skill and magic boosters (books and magic eggs, respectively). There is also an option later on to fuse magic eggs, yielding more useful and powerful ones. Skills and spells are equipped and can be extracted from skill books and magic eggs. On the negative side, the only minigame is a card game based on luck, and there are no sidequests to name (except perhaps a few detective mysteries…). Gameplay gets a 9.

Graphics: The graphics are quite good and clean-looking. The backgrounds are nice, the scenery is good, the character models are detailed, there aren't really any gripes in this department. Of course, most people might come to expect this from RPGs nowadays, anyway. Well, they didn't exactly blow me away, though… Graphics get an 8.

Story: The story leaves a bit to be desired… Yuki is a cheerful and determined young boy… Determined to fly, and determined to not take his pottery lessons. He lives in Anfog village with his (rather young) mother Miranda, but dreams of flying through the skies, across the world. He and his friend have perfected their newest airship, and Yuki prepares to fly to the mainland in it. Stuff happens, his plane crashes, he ends up meeting a cute girl (Alfina) who is also a communicator between the guardians (god-like creatures) and humans. And, of course, he falls in love (how cliche). Speaking of cliches, the antagonist is another stereotypical villain who wants to destroy the world. Well, not quite… Rather, he does not want to accept his responsibility as a communicator, so instead of sucking it up or leaving and doing something else, he chooses to KILL THE GUARDIANS. Doesn't make sense much? Well, he's actually being manipulated by a greater evil with it's own evil agenda. The cliches build up more with the theme of “love” that the head guardian tries to tell Alfina about before it's untimely decapitation. Yeah… Story gets a 6.

Sound/Music: The soundtrack is pretty good, I can't really remember any of the songs off the top of my head, nothing really catchy that you'd want to whistle too, but I can't say I didn't like it. I preferred the Japanese opening theme to the (similar) English one we got, but it's not a big deal. The voice acting was hit-and-miss… Most of the main characters were pretty good, but Alfina was simply annoying. Lost marks because you can't revert to Japanese voices. Sound gets a 7.

Difficulty: Well, I haven't played a difficult RPG in a long time, so I was almost caught off guard by Grandia III… Almost. The game starts of very easy as it introduces you to the basics of the battle system. But by the time you get to the 2nd disk (18 hours in, I believe…) it no longer goes easy no you. To beat all of the bosses and some of the enemies, you'll need to cancel attacks all the time and unleash some powerful magic. Yes, this is the type of RPG where magic is useful (somewhat rare nowadays, too…). Items are also very helpful, especially one-shot area-of-effect cherry bombs and grenades. Still, it's pretty easy if you take time to level up now and again. I won't really give this a rating, it depends on preference. I'll simply state that it's more difficult than… say, the Final Fantasy series.

Gametime/Replay Value: Because there are 2 disks, you may be fooled into thinking this is a long game. It's not, relatively speaking. The game can be completed rather thoroughly at 30hours, and there are no sidequests. Replay value depends on whether you really liked the story, but I have no inclination to play it again. Of course, 30 hours is still pretty long, so it has a satisfactory “bang for your buck”. 7.

Conclusion: Grandia III has it's merits (heh, battle system) and I can easily say that I had fun with it while it lasted. This is why I give it an 8.4/10 (round down to 8 >_>).

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/27/06

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