Review by MasterVG782

Reviewed: 07/13/07

To infinity and beyond!

Level 5 is certainly one company that fans of the RPG genre need to keep their eyes on in today's generation of games. They are a company that has made a definite name for themselves over the past few years, with such hits as Dark Cloud, Dark Cloud 2 and they even had a hand in the making of the last entry into the famed Dragon Quest series. Does Level 5's latest creation, Rogue Galaxy, shine like a star in space or does it fizzle out like a star that is at the end of its life?

The game starts on planet Rosa, which is under rule by a militaristic force who is at war. The hero of the story, Jaster Rogue, is just your ordinary teenager living out his life under the strict rule. His dream involves exploring space, which is granted to him not too long after the game when he is mistaken as one of th galaxy's top hunters and joins a space pirate's crew! The story in Rogue Galaxy starts out strong, but as the game moves along, it starts becoming full of cliches and bad plot devices. Once you beat the game, you might be asking yourself how the story went from excellent to down right stale and uninspiring. Of course, anyone who has played a Level 5 game before knows that the company isn't known for their compelling and in-depth stories.

Once you start playing the game, you'll notice the main attraction of this star. The battle system in RG is a real-time one that can be slightly compared to that of Kingdom Hearts. You will encounter random battles, but instead of being brought to a new and separate screen, the battles will take place wherever you are standing in the dungeon or town. This adds a sense of uniqueness to the overall battle system, as some of the areas' architecture will play a part in the fights. Another addition to the battle system that isn't present in a lot of RPGs is the Action Gauge. Every time you perform an action in a fight, the gauge will be depleted by a certain amount. Once that gauge is fully gone, you won't be able to attack until it is replenished. Although it may sound like a hassle, it will become second nature as you are progressing through the game and it doesn't detract from the actual battles themselves.

One of the biggest parts of the game involves the use of a friendly, talking frog that you will acquire early in the storyline. This talking frog has some unusual special powers; he can combine two weapons that you feed him and forge a new one. Of course, you won't be able to simply throw in weapons once you get them, as they must be seasoned in battle before Toady (yes, that's his name) will allow you to synthesize the weapons. Each weapon has an experience bar that fills up as you successfully complete battles and once you have finished enough, the weapon will be sufficient for Toady to use. There are A LOT of weapons for your characters to use in battle, so the player will always be busy with the weapon system.

Cel-shading is one kind of graphical presentation that has become slightly popular in today's gaming world, with Level 5 using it in most of their games, which even includes Rogue Galaxy. It is certainly an art style that stands out and catches the eye of players. Rogue Galaxy utilizes cel-shading to its full potential to provide a beautiful and detailed game. The characters are exceptionally well done, with excellent models and movement. It's the attention to the detail is what's most impressive, as you can acquire different outfits for each character that they can actually wear to spice up their looks. Not only that, but each and every weapon you use in battle will have its own unique look. One of the problems with the visuals in this game, though, involves the dungeons. Since they can be rather long, the backgrounds provided in the dungeons tend to repeat themselves over and over. this deteriorates the visual appeal of the game a bit, since you spend a lot of time in the dungeons.

The visuals and audio components of any game almost always go hand in hand. While the visuals are superb, one aspect of the audio doesn't quite reach the same level. The music in the game is quite forgettable, with only a few tracks really standing out. Thankfully, the other audio aspect of the game, the voice acting, is simply marvelous. Level 5 really went all out in this area, getting such talent as Steven Blum, Kari Wahlgren, Yuri Lowenthal and other well-known VAs that simply make Rogue Galaxy a blessing to the ears. While one aspect of the audio didn't jump off the screen, the other aspect was simply divine.

Rogue Galaxy is definitely one game that doesn't put difficulty on the back burner. Lacking any kind of defensive armor, the game's best defense is its offense. This means that the enemies, when they hit you, will hit hard. Later in the game, it is very possible for a character to be killed within 5 hits from a monster. Of course, you will need to spam health recovery items like crazy, since none of the characters have any abilities that restore HP. It definitely provides a different approach and will make the player more aware of what he/she is doing in a battle.

Most games may boast on the back of the case that the game will provide over 80-100 hours of gameplay, but which games actually live up to that? While the main storyline of Rogue Galaxy may only take average players 35-40 hours to complete, the extras in this game could easily push that total hours mark well past 100. There are plenty of things to do during the game and after you defeat the last boss. The hunting aspect, while it may be a bit tedious, will provide many hours of play time. Insectron is another fun little diversion from the game, which allows you to catch insects and pit them in a chess-like mini-game. The game even boasts three extra dungeons, one of which is 100 floors long!

Rogue Galaxy is a beautiful and entertaining game that can keep you glued to your television for plenty of hours. It is more of an emphasis on the gameplay than the story, which starts out sweet and eventually turns sour as you reach the middle of the game. With so many sidequests at your disposal, you'll keep your PS2 on and your controller always in your hand. Players looking for a deep and involving storyline will need to look elsewhere, while players looking for a fun game that focuses on actually playing the game will want to buy this.

Rating: 8

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