Review by HighOnPhazon
Somewhat of a standard RPG, Rogue Galaxy has its moments
Rogue Galaxy had a really neat premise. Taking a cue from Star Wars, the story starts out with a backdrop of an intergalactic war that has been put at somewhat of a stalemate as a large Starship corporation, Daytron, looks to profit from the cease fire by promoting its warships to the capitol of the Longardian army. Caught in the middle of this drama we meet our Protagonist, Jaster. Jaster, for most of his life was growing up on the Desert Planet Rosa, and Star Wars cliche's aside, he dreams of getting off the dusty rock and seeing the galaxy.
What seems like a pretty intriguing start to the story quickly ends up being slightly hollow. As you delve into this massive adventure, the story starts to really waver in spots, slowing down to a crawl that seems like its going nowhere up until literally dozens of hours later when it miraculously speeds up yet again and goes off into an entirely different direction. This caught me off guard and I wasnt really sure if it was a good way of grabbing my attention but for the most part the story is alright for what it is. It doesnt take itself too seriously until later in the game where it then turns into something of a more epic and mature arc. I didnt care for most of it besides a few key character side-stories, but dont buy this game expecting something novel worthy, because it really falls flat and is filled with a myriad of cliche's most of us gamers have seen before countless times. There is not one plot twist most people shouldnt see coming a mile away before the game hits you with it.
The voice acting is actually pretty good and for what its worth, and makes what little story this has that much more endearing because the VAs actually put a little effort into making their characters seem like they would. Zegram, one of the many characters in your party is particularly good but most Anime fans will recognize his voice from Cowboy Bebop and Wolfs Rain. Jasters voice is pretty good for a main character, not overly whiny like most RPGs tend to throw at us, and not too annoying either. The voices really saved the story from being that much more flat.
The main draw of the battle system here is straight from the Dark Cloud games, but it leans more towards a party based action RPG than an Adventure game. The weapon combination and fusion system weve come to enjoy in Dark Cloud 1 and 2 is back but a little less deep, which for the most part is actually kind of a relief when you factor in that the main character alone has far more weapons than you actually need. Most of the characters have over 40 weapons each, including main and sub weapons that you can combine into new types, and thankfully none of them have any deep customization like durability and elemental properties (which there are but not something that requires much thought or input on our parts). Gladly the durability weapon breaking system is gone, because that would be just one more thing to create madness.
You will be fighting a lot in this game. The encounter rate is quite high and most enemy fights will pit you against several enemies which for the most part can kick your ass if you dont block or use all of your abilities to their full potential. One of the problems with the way the game handles encounters is that the enemies themselves dont really have any uniqueness to them besides the occasional ones you have to break their shield by using a charge attack, or jump on another species to open it up to attack its core, but once you get by these minor annoyances you mash X or Square for your respective weapons and beat the snot out of them. Enemies however can do the exact same thing to you. Most enemies will hit you hard, for over 250 HP a hit, and some can hit multiple times before you can react leaving you or your party members dead. Hitting triangle will open the quick menu, allowing you to switch control of characters, use abilities or items or change tactics. Most of your time in the menu will be spent using items, because you will get hurt, a lot. The game starts out slightly challenging at first because the lack of money and skills that your party possesses leaves you vulnerable. Thankfully most of the areas in the game have very frequent save points which replenish HP and MP fully every time you touch them. This leads to a game where you can potentially power level for free very easily in many areas of the game. This leads to what becomes an overly easy game towards the middle and end points of the story. There are only a handful of areas I can think of where the game was pretty tough, but once I ran around the tediously long dungeons (yes, most are VERY long, requiring a hefty amount of fighting and map coverage) leveling up and gaining money, (something that you will be rolling in by the games mid point) the game started to become almost too easy. This might be my fault as a gamer but I dont see the need to make it any more challenging just to make the game that much better, as it would probably only lead to more frustration and more tedium.
All of your characters have a grid that once you place items on open up abilities to use in battle. Some are passive and others are battle skills that can attack or augment the party. Most of the characters have spells that when you unlock them, devastate the entire field of enemies that you encounter for a very small amount of MP, which makes some fights last about a total of 3 seconds, which is ok sometimes but later in the game you almost want to cheese your way through every fight because there are so many of them. Albeit sometimes you wont be able to do this as an enemy will have a previously mentioned shield or it has a certain weak spot, most of the time you can spam spells indefinitely. Couple that with the fact that you will have so much money you wont know what to do with it all, you will always, and I mean always have enough healing items that you really dont need to worry about anything for 80% of the game. So, basically, the game is pretty easy after a few hours of play and becomes somewhat of a chore. However, some people will have tons of fun in every area hunting down every monster to increase their rank in the games universal hunter ranking which basically acts as a ladder system, pitting Jaster against supposedly other hunters, soldiers and pirates out there. Ala FFXII there are monster hunts to purchase and track down. None of them are very difficult to find or kill but the enjoyment of going up 5 ranks after downing a giant ugly space gorilla is actually somewhat satisfying, earning you some nice treasure. Dont expect anything deep here folks.
The Graphics here are pretty nice. Level-5 shows off its great cel-shading muscle yet again after DQVIII and Dark Cloud 2, however I thought DQVIII looked a bit nicer than this. Overall nice but nothing that will make your PS2 smoke.
Here we come to another part of the game that you will love at first but then hate, almost immediately, the sound. For a majority of the game you will be running around huge dungeons many of which are extremely long. They also have background music. This is one of the few games in which the background music actually makes me want to stop playing or mute the TV. The music starts off good but then once you are used to it, it starts to loop again, which makes almost every track in the game annoyingly repetitive. There are a few tunes later in the game that are fairly nice but they are short and suffer from looping too much. The battle music is also very standard and not that well done. There are only a couple battle pieces or boss tracks which I enjoyed and they were used rarely. I shouldnt have expected much but what can I say, I enjoy my music in games sometimes. There is nothing here I would want to listen to over and over again.
The game has actually quite a bit of side quests and mini games that you could theoretically not even touch going through your first time, and admittedly I never bothered with one of them, which is a Pokemon type bug catching arena game called Insectron. There is a town which tournaments are held where you battle your captured Insectrons with other combatants. It is fairly deep but I never bothered with it. I can sense however that it could be an addicting little distraction from dungeon crawling. Maybe I should have put more time into it, but I just couldnt find myself wanting to. That being said, there is also some new game + dungeons and weapons to build, so there is some pretty good replay value to be had here, if that is your thing.
Overall Rogue Galaxy is a pretty standard game. I bought it expecting a little something different. It has some neat ideas at time but they get overused and in the storys case, underused. There are actually some things in this game that kept me playing, but the story was really shallow, the game didnt take itself seriously until the last quarter of the game, and the battle system starts to show a big ugly side of repetitiveness about half way into the adventure. Not a bad game, I have played much worse, but its something that I really had to struggle to finish. If it grabs you at first, it might be a different experience for you, but for me it just didnt really do anything for me. Dont let my words discourage you, for a game of this type, I would recommend it to any RPG fan, just dont expect too much out of it.
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