Review by ploder44444

Reviewed: 11/05/08

Ready? One, two...Lovely! Honey! MIO!! Kawaii!

Clock time: 62 hours
Game Status: Complete
60Hz option available

Story 7/10 - GOOD
Rogue Galaxy focuses on a young aspiring space pirate named Jaster Rogue. Ever since he was a child Jaster has dreamed of going into space. Unfortunately, Jaster has led a hard life, being abandoned by his parents on an occupied planet and brought up by the local priest. However, on one fateful day Jaster's luck is about to change. His village is attacked by terrifying beasts that not even the talented Jaster can vanquish. Luckily a mysterious bounty hunter by the name of 'desert claw' shows up to help Jaster. The mysterious fighter is legendary and makes quick work of most of the beasts but puzzlingly leaves the boss to Jaster and even provides him with his weapon to slay it.

Having slayed said boss Jaster is mistaken by a couple of space pirates for the legendary 'desert claw' from the sword he is carrying and recruited aboard the space pirate ship Dorgenark. Thus begins Jaster's trip into space to ultimately reveal the location of the legendary planet Eden, said to have unimaginable wealth. However, the Daytron corporation is also keen to uncover Eden and vies with Jaster and co to beat them to the prize.

Along this epic journey Jaster and co will learn that there is more at stake than just riches. Exactly who is this 'desert claw' and what is his connection with Jaster, how can a planet remain hidden in space and what are the Daytron corporation really up to? All this and more will be revealed to the player.

I quite enjoyed the story of Rogue Galaxy, although there were a few issues I had with the supposed space pirate theme. For a start most of the characters are quite likeable. why would space pirates go through the rigmarole of gaining a galactic travel visa and have the player go through what seems like an unnecessary sidequest? Not very space pirate if you ask me. A real space pirate would clone someone else's visa and be done with it. Also, for space pirates the characters come across as tame. Perhaps this was down to the age rating, but they could have at least tried to put in some moral ambiguity in the lead character. Every character is given their story, but it never entirely gells or becomes really convincing. As it is the story can sometimes feel like a boy-scout outing rather than the swash-buckling nastiness you would expect of pirates. Overall I would say that the story is competent, although I would have liked the main character to be less of a goody-two-

Graphics 9/10 - SUPERB
The graphics are probably the best aspect of Rogue Galaxy. What we are presented with are cell shaded 3D characters in a 3D world. The style is bright and clear and reminiscient of anime such as Dragonball. The PS2's lack of anti-aliasing is not as apparent as in other games on the system and the models never clip with scenery/enemies.

The pre-rendered cut-scenes are at least as good as those seen in the Final Fantasy games, if not better. We are able to see changes of armour/weapons on the characters in real time, which is impresive as many RPGS don't bother with this. Special effects are understated but well implemented suit the style of the game perfectly. There are also some nice touches such as the glint of light off swords.

The design and animation of enemies is also top notch and it is a joy to see what foe Jaster and co will be up against next. Each enemy has its own death animation, which stone type enemies crumbling and insect types shrivelling. The environments across the many planets are well designed and varied, so you really get a sense for the places you explore. Overall Rogue Galaxy is a visual treat and a superb achievement for the PS2.

Sound 8/10 - GREAT
The sound in Rogue Galaxy also impressed me. There are a few tracks which have repetitive riffts that grind after a while *cough* aboard the Dorgenark, but what Rogue Galaxy does well it does really well. I thought the galaxy corporation tune was a particular highlight. The music really gives you a sense for the places you are visiting.

The voice overs are well implemented and match the personality of the characters. Your allies have an annoying habit of giving random quips as you walk but these can easily be switched off through the options menu. The sound of weapons making contact and taking damage is adequate but not that varied. They could have put a few more variations in this respect. Overall the sound of Rogue Galaxy complements the game nicely.

Gameplay 7/10 - GOOD
Rogue Galaxy features a real-time combat system with no distinction between the battle area and field. Whilst exploring areas in 3D a warning will come up on screen accopanied with a siren sound effect to signal the transition to battle. Any NPCs in the area will vanish as the enemies appear.

Whilst controlling one out of three characters at a time you are able to use normal swing attacks with your primary weapon and shoot your secondary weapon in real-time. The enemies will also be attacking you in real-time. Each character has a slightly different balance between primary and secondary weapon in terms of speed and usefulness, but in general the primary weapon is used in close quarters whilst the secondary is a projectile. The catch is that attacking uses up bars underneath the characters name. Once all bars have been depleted that character won't be able to attack until it is fully restored. This is where guarding comes into the picture. By holding down guard the action bar will restore much faster. If an enemy also happens to make contact whilst you are guarding the action bar will restore even faster.

Whilst you can only control one character at a time you have up to two other computer controlled characters fighting with you and can switch at any time. The computer makes a reasonable attempt to assist and there are a few different strategies you can instruct with such as 'go all out' 'stand back' 'target same enemy' and 'target different enemies' but this is neither as in-depth or as useful as the gambit system seen in Final Fantasy XII for example. Sometimes your allies (as well as enemies) will stand around waiting to be hit. In a compromise between control and the combat progressing smoothly Level 5 give you the option of responding to requests made by party members. Unless you disable it they will call out to use items and special abilities and this actually works pretty well.

In addition to normal attacks you have special abilties that are learnt by placing items on a board ('revelation flow') similar to FFXII's licence board. For an abilitiy to be unlocked all the adjacent squares must be filled up by the items found/dropped by enemies. Every character has a more or less unique set of abilties that use up MP, but there are common themes such as buffs and negative effects. I didn't particularly like this system as it has next to no flexibility. You are expected by the game to unlock all abilties anyway so it turns into a chore fast. Why not have them learnt automatically? Certain abilties such as Jaster's 'illusion sword' cause a serious imbalance in the gameplay that makes almost any enemy easily defeatable.

Along with normal attacks and abilities are team based attacks (you can guess what these are can't you?) and 'burning strikes'. The latter is more interesting as by collecting blue chips dropped by enemies whilst attacking you build up a bar which when full allows you to unleash a devastating set of pre-ordained moves accoring to how many on-screen button presses you get. The good thing about these is that they ignore certain enemies physical immunities. Unfortunately there are only three sets of strikes for each character and they are very easy to time correctly.

As it happens I found the real-time combat much more enjoyable than the traditional turn based model used by many RPGs, but it does begin to grate after a while. It's not that there are many encounters, but they are just so tedious, predictable and easy. The ability to jump can get you out of almost any situation. In an attempt to spice things up Level 5 have also allowed you to pick up and throw enemies/objects and enemies that require special tactics to defeat. However, I found the encounters becoming more tedious after a dozen or so hours into the game. I'm not sure what else they could have done to make the battles more interesting, but boredom did begin to set in well before the mid-way point. I think this was also partly down to the slow movement speed of the characters compared with how big the maps are.

Saving is handled at points known as 'transporters'. These allow you to automatically restore the health of all your characters, save, record battles with enemies and teleport between all the other transporters you have touched on that planet. This is very welcome as back-tracking with such a slow movement speed would have made me give up on the game.

The game features a few puzzles, but these almost never go above fetch quests or using particular items on a spot. The main side-quests are 'quarries', which are basically bounties on special bosses and the insectron tournament, which allows you to pit insects against CPU opponents on a grid based board. There aren't many quarries in the game (12 or so) but Level 5 have done a better job than in FFXII, where they became very tedious. Insectron is slightly more enjoyable as it allows you to catch insects using bate and then
use a simplified rearing regime of feeding and mating to develop the insects. Insectron was a good idea, but I never really felt pushed by the game (or receives a worthwhile reward) to pursue it all the way through. I think they could have incorporated this mini-game into the story better.

There is also a full 3D factory room where you can place pieces of machinery, pipes and other equipment to process materials into rare products. Each material requries certain equipment to process and the time delay of each piece of equipment must be taken into account so the processed materials reach the assembler at the correct time. Knowing which materials to use is a matter of picking up blueprints from NPCs during your travels. This is probably the best mini-game, although there is not much that will really be lost if you decide to give it a miss.

The most (and in my opinion the only) diversion that is essential is weapon synthesis. During your adverntures you meet this little toad who is able to ingest two of your maxed out weapons and synthesise a stronger weapon. This only really involves selecting them from a menu and watching him put them in his cheeks, but it is fun nonetheless. You see, each weapon earns exp points from use and elemental attributes and when it maxes out the toad will give you an option to either analyse it and give his opinion what it would combine well with or just go ahead and combine (almost) any two weapons you want. The only catch is that they must be two primary and secondary weapons of the same character. A very good idea and more fun than having to buy/find all your weapons (you can still do that as well).

There is one other major quest once the game is finished, however this soon develops into a tedious randomly generated deungeon which breaks the game's convention of being able to freely teleport between static transporters. As such the main game can be completed after around 40 hours, however this particularly annoying 'extra' can eat up another 6+ hours or so. I would say that the game boxe's claim of 100 hours of gameplay is slightly exaggerated, unless of course you want to be driven to insanity with weapon synthesis or randomly generated dungeons?

One thing that is unavoidable about Rogue Galaxy is that there are more than a few simlarities with FFXII (space pirate theme, the way your allies follow you around, the licence style board for abilities, the bounties etc) which wasn't a brilliant game either. The comparison is unfortunate yet inevitable between games in the same genre. As it happens the feeling I got from playing this game was similar to the slight disappointment I got from FFXII. Having said that however, Rogue Galaxy is a competent game that will give the average RPG fan a good deal of fun, especially since it can be picked up very cheaply.

Would I like this game?
If you are fed up of turn-based combat in RPGs you will enjoy this game. The graphical style of the game will also make it endearing to anime fans and those who enjoy interplanetary sci-fi. There are no difficulty options and the game is on the easy side. It is a pretty linear adventure but those who like to explore large areas and synthesis weapons will find this more than makes up for this fact.

Overall 7.5/10 - GOOD VERGING ON GREAT
There are some nice touches in Rogue Galaxy, such as being able to skip almost any cutscene by pausing and pressing triangle and a summary of the story on the loading screen and little loading throughout the game, but overall I found it a slightly tedious experience after a dozen hours or so. It is difficult to explain why exactly as there are so many good points.

What it does well it does really well. The game never develops into anything approaching a classic but is fun most of the time. There are many ways this game could have shone, of which I will give one. The space pirate theme was the perfect excuse for real-time interplanetary travel, but instead you get to choose your destination from a 2D map and after a cut-scene are transported there automatically.

So overall even though Gamefaqs doesn't allow fractions I feel that it is necessary in this case to award Rogue Galaxy a high 7 and recommend it as an RPG worth playing.

Rating: 7

Product Release: Rogue Galaxy (EU, 09/07/07)

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