Review by BlackWizardMagus
Not even worth 5 bucks.
So it's been 3 years since this game came out, and I just recently picked it up. Typical me. Anyway, although age can be a killer for some games, this RPG simply doesn't measure up at all. So for all of you other discount raiders, let me give you a warning; this game is as flat as they come.
Frankly, I rarely notice a game's graphics. Even if it's the latest Final Fantasy, the graphics are just "there" after an hour, more or less. However, I will say this; the Blue Bomber was NOT meant to be cel-shaded. Link was, sure, and the cast of Wild Arms 3 looked fine, but X has been reduced from his very sleek, futuristic death-bot self to a blocky, brightly colored toy. Basically, because of the requirement to use bright colors and limitations on curves, all characters look just plain funny. No one is threatening, and no one is heroic. The game's environments look alright I suppose, but the coloring scheme makes it so that everything blends together. I frequently ended up walking right past doors, because they are simply one grey panel on a wall made up of grey panels. Overall, the cel-shading that can definately make a bright and colorful world is a poor choice for a game depicting a gritty, war-torn future and it's combatants.
Typical Mega Man music. Techno-ish, repetitive; it's just back-ground music. The sound effects are also too loud; when you are fighting a hopping enemy, you don't need to hear a loud squish over and over again, and when fighting 4 of them, god, it's just this cacophony. Your characters also do this; whenever they walk, even a slow walk, each step is some odd noise that can be heard from across the room. And it's not a steel-on-steel clash, like you would expect, but more like steel-on-jello. With regard to voices, I have this to say; there has never been a video game made where at least half of those who played it called the voice-acting terrible. Most people are just obsessively picky about it, and often insult it when the problem is the story, dialogue, or the characters. This game, for once, was actually bad. X is whiny, and honestly sounds like someone TRYING to be "bad". Zero, the greatest Maverick hunter and absurdely powerful (particularly in earlier X games), sounds kinda goofy. Another review described him as a "surfer", and that's not far off. Most of the other characters have fairly high-pitched voices as well. I suppose the main problem here is not that the voices are bad overall, it's that those of us who PLAY X games are used to some tough, determined dudes putting their lives on the line, but the voices are more fit for kids pretending to be heroes.
This is a little flat. Honestly, it wouldn't have been too hard to do. Like X games, you basically go from your base, to a field, kill the boss, return to base. Okay. Except, they actually added in reasons to go; recruit so-and-so, shut down the facility, etc. Problem is that it never feels like we have legitimately improved our standing. Similar to Front Mission games, after we've done something that should be very important and influential, it always feels like we are just as desperate and in danger as before. The story is truly glue to hold everything together, nothing more.
This category is sometimes as important as the story; flat characters will make a good story seem irrelevant and great characters can make the most cliche adventure seem worthwhile (see Lunar for the PSX). This game, however, has little. Similar to Shining Force: Neo, you basically get some development almost as soon as you meet the character, then nothing...then maybe a little extra insight hours later. Granted, X games have little development, but that's because X games have only a handful of repeat characters. This game, with hours and hours of play, still hardly gives us any idea of who it is we are working with and why. Except for the obligatory traitors (X games always have a few too many of those), no one really DOES anything. Hell, even X himself points this out; when one character complains about having to work, X says "Hey, he's a strategy reploid. You and I are made to fight". Well, I guess that means they don't have to think, and that seems fairly true.
The gameplay...is essentially a great system that was then given 1000 holes to frustrate the player. I'll try to avoid a lengthy breakdown of the whole system, but basically you have a main weapon (that's unique to the character and affects all 4 stats; attack, close-up defense, distance defense, and speed), 2 sub-weapons that could be passive, attacks, support moves, etc, and then 2-4 slots to throw in accessories basically. No problems here, that's a fairly basic set-up for success. Accessories can be made by combining previous accessories and sub-weapons according to certain recipes. Not bad, depending on taste. The problem, however, is how little any of this matters. You could never touch the FMG that makes new accessories and not notice. Hell, you barely need accessories; the increase in stats most of them offer are so slight that they are just "there". With one exception that I'll discuss later, most of them are imperceptible in battle. Increasing your speed from 46 to 47 is better than nothing, but no decisions will make or break a battle. Your main weapons are similar; although they fluctuate a little more (like, say, 5-6 speed points), they still all balance out. Do you kill the enemy faster, reducing how much damage he has the chance to inflict, or raise your armor and take less damage? Doesn't matter. All works out the same. Sub-weapons do have some variety, and I will say that those are definately tactical. Do you go for straight up offensive ones? Do you use the one that raises your armor by 25% for one turn? Or the one that steals life? These are good decisions to have to make.
Battles too are pretty good, at first, but fall apart just like everything else. When your turn begins, you usually attack, of course. You can use one or both sub weapons (or neither), and then end off using your main weapon. Every round will grant you a certain amount of WE, and most sub-weapons require you to use WE, so that's a factor to consider. You can use items, defend, or use the sub-tank (like X games, a sub tank stores generic life energy that you can use to heal one or multiple party members. There are no healing ITEMS in this game). Then you have two special options; Action Trigger, which uses up ALL your WE (min 50) for a special move, and Hyper Mode, where your character gets a huge stat increase for a few rounds (and in some cases gain new moves, or different ATs). The good thing is that we have a variety of ATs. The bad thing is that they are not as reliable as one would like. They can be blocked; the can miss; they can be dodged; some are very random; some have elemental properties that can bite you. All in all, you will use them alot, and then be mad because they just don't seem to work.
Okay, here's alot of the assorted problems with the game that really kills it. Too many attacks miss or are dodged, for one thing. Enemies that heal are also wildly unfair since YOU can't even heal. Speaking of which, the drastic lack of healing abilities is definately a penalty, as enemies in this game are unfairly resiliant and often have over-powered attacks, shields, and the like. Bosses are wildly unfair; if you do not know what's coming up, you die easy. Some of the only really useful accessories in this game are those that protect against elemental attacks, and these bosses are why; if you don't have the right ones on for the boss, you often will get your ass handed to you. With healing being difficult and moves frequently not working, these are frustrating. Many bosses aren't too bad IF you know the trick, but you could be half dead before you have a system down. You might have to use a certain type of attack first, or wait until IT uses a certain attack, to hurt it. But you waste time learning this, and waste more time setting yourself up to abuse it. Items are often times on short supply, since you can only hold nine of a given item, and if you are being poisoned regularly, too bad. And the encounter rate, the lack of any sort of inn or tent item, and the sparse save points are also annoying. Ooh, let's not forget the map. Most rooms are simply shown as big blocks, and if you want more detail than that, you have to actually be IN the room, so that you tiny corner map in your main map will show you the lay-out. It will not, however, show you doors you have not been through, which to me is the whole damn point of having a map.
I don't want to beat a dead horse, so I'll wrap it up; this game had boring character personalities, poor sound, cartoonish-looking heroes and villians, bland environments, and about 1001 little things that make it unplayable to the impatient. The battle system is the only thing decent here, and theoretically it's great. But due to lack of balance, healing problems, and the impotence of many of the "customizeable" aspects, it's much less compelling. This game boils down to throwing on whatever weapons you feel like, along with whatever accessories you can, and trying your hardest to preserve your precious sub-tank and hyper mode transformations for the boss. Sub-weapons are the only legitimately tactical aspect here, and they aren't really that important by themselves.
Overall, the game is boring. No, it's a "10 dollar bargain bin game I'll play once for fun and not expect much out of it" kinda game. That's more like The Bard's Tale. This is a bargain game that will take you a whole weekend, but you'll basically already have done all there is to do after about 6 hours. Capcom needs to finally just bring in another company to make an RPG and super-impose their trademarks onto it. Dragon Warrior X would be such an improvement.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Mega Man X: Command Mission (US, 09/21/04)
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