Review by Bkstunt_31
Space-age action, now with pirates!
Rogue Galaxy is a role-playing adventure found only on the PS2, published by Sony Entertainment and developed by Level-5 (who are known for their work on such titles as Dragon Quest VIII, Dark Cloud 2, and Jeanne D'Arc). Here's what you can expect from Rogue Galaxy:
The story centers around a young man named Jaster Rogue, who's biggest wish is to one day leave his desert planet of Rosa, which is currently under an oppressive military rule, and become a space pirate (which is apparently the way of the future!). You than meet two members of the space pirate ship "The Dorgengoa" who are on Rosa searching for the famous bounty hunter "Desert Claw". On this fateful day, Rosa is attacked by a giant salamander,so Jaster races off to go and try to fight it but is ambushed by a bunch of smaller monsters. Desert Claw happens to see Jaster in trouble, and so he saves him and gives Jaster his trademark sword. Jaster than rushes off after the giant salamander and helps the pirates as they fight it, and is than offered a place aboard the Dorgengoa as he is mistake for Desert Claw.
That is the brief introduction to how Jaster becomes a space pirate. From here you will travel to half-a-dozen planets due to various convenient situations (such as crashing your ship or needing a new galactic visa), meeting new allies and enemies along the way. Eventually you'll uncover the game's ultimate evil and strive to overcome it. The story in Rogue Galaxy is filled with plenty of cliche themes, many of which get tired fast. One of the most annoying is that almost every single one of your allies has some sort of personal family trauma to work through. You are also shown these family dramas out of nowhere, and since there is no build-up to these climaxes you feel really distanced from the characters. Out of the eight party members that they attempt to do this with, I feel like they only succeeded with one character.
Overall the story fails to be as grand as it tries to be, and feels more like a generic role-playing yarn. Too many re-used themes will drag any story down, though, and you need more of a connection with the side-characters to care about what happens to them.
Game play: 8/10
Rogue Galaxy is definitely an action game, so don't expect to be sitting around waiting for you turn to attack. In the game, you and your two active teammates (which can be switched out at any time in the menu) will explore a 3D map as you try to progress to the targeted area. As you explore you will often be stopped and enemies will appear in your location, thus triggering a battle. In battle you can use your main weapon and sub weapons, as well as any abilities you know, in order to damage the enemy and kill them. You can also charge up your attacks, use a large variety of items, and even jump around as well. After attacking for awhile, you will need to rest a bit, as you can only attack continuously for so long. However, you can get around this by letting an enemy hit you while you are blocking, which will let you attack again.
Overall, the fighting system is pretty polished, as you can control any party member at any time, and since each individual party member has their own unique weapons and sub-weapons, you have quite a few choices in how to play. You can even switch between any weapon and sub-weapon you have in the middle of battle as well, to try to take advantage of your enemies weaknesses. So as you can see, battles grant you a lot of freedom to do what you want.
Some enemies require certain attacks to kill, such as charge attacks and jumping attacks. Some enemies even require that you use a special gun to break their shields. These requirements are mostly a nuisance, as these enemies are often mixed in with regular enemies and force you to often change your weapons to fight them. Later in the game, these enemies will be mixed together, making your fights frustrating beyond all belief. The most annoying enemies are the ones that require the special gun to damage, as Jaster is the only one who can use it.
Each character can use their special abilities at any time during a battle, and will often ask you for suggestions on what you want them to do as you fight. As you are fighting, they'll shout out "Jaster!", which is followed by two different actions they can do from which you can choose from. If someone needs healed, one of their suggestions will always be an item; otherwise they'll suggest some other random ability. Abilities are discovered throughout the game by a rather unique method of having to fill out each character's "Revelation" chart. This chart is filled out by using items found throughout the game, whether through stores or from enemies. As you fill out abilities, you will open up pathways to new abilities. Some abilities will even let multiple characters do stronger attacks together, but only if they're in the party at the same time.
There are several other activities to participate in Rogue Galaxy, but since I've been so long-winded on the game play already, I'll only briefly touch on these. The most important it Toady, a unique character who can actually make new weapons for you. All you have to do is use two weapons and max their stats out so Toady can eat them, which makes a higher-level weapon. You can also hunt down certain amounts of monsters, as well as strong monsters called quarries (which are essentially optional boss fights) in order to become a famous galactic bounty hunter. You can also catch and raise insects from various galactic planets and battle them in a tournament. There is also a factory that will let you make new items to use and distribute to various stores. Overall, the game play is pretty good, but is held back by some annoying enemies, occasionally weak AI, and some needlessly laborious mini-games as the insects and factory are overly-complicated for no good reason.
The graphics in Rogue Galaxy do look really good as the entire game was done using cell-shading. The worlds are huge and fairly detailed. One thing I have to mention is that this game reuses a lot of the same corridor's and rooms. In fact, often entire dungeons are nothing more than three to four different corridor's or rooms interconnected one after another after another. They did this to utilize how long it would take you to traverse these areas, and then they integrate the loading of the game into that time, so you'll notice as you traverse these huge areas that there is little to no loading.
Character designs are fairly well done, with a nice amount of detail, but the thing that I liked the most was the immense amount of weapons you can use. Each weapon has a different look and is displayed on the character when you equip them. There are also different armors you can find around the world which will also change your look as well. The cut-scenes throughout the game look amazing as well, as do each character's abilities. Another thing that I was thankful for was the ability to skip almost every cut-scene in the game. Overall, things are pretty good looking here; the major disappointment would be the relative lack of variety in most of the game's dungeons since they reuse a lot of the game's graphics.
Music and sound effects: 8/10
The music in Rogue Galaxy is a somewhat-mixed bag. There are quite a few musical styles included throughout the game, ranging from choir pieces to string pieces to wind pieces. The choir pieces are fairly forgettable, being mainly used in dramatic situations as well as the game's intro, and sound similar to most fantasy-choir fare. The wind piece are pretty nice, as the main melodies are some catchy tunes with some solid drum beats underneath. The strings were hit-or-miss; there were a few that were bland and uninteresting, but there were also a few that I absolutely loved. My person favorite was a classical-inspired guitar piece that you can listen to in Kuje Desert.
The sound effect in the game are fairly standard fare. The voice acting, however, was again rather spotty. I don't know about you, but I hate it when developers put in horrible accents or voices in games for "variety". Well, you'll encounter it a bit here as well: two characters named Jupis and Simon will be there for all of your voice-annoying needs. The rest of the cast sounds pretty good. I especially liked Deego and Zegram's voice actors, they did a good job throughout the game.
I kind-of touched on how much there is to do in the game play section, but needless to say, there is a lot to do besides the game's main quest! You can take time out to try to raise insects and have them battle (having to catch them first in various worlds), climb up the bounty hunter ranks and hunt quarries, or play around with your factory and try to make up new items. You can also visit the galactic headquarters and view your completion percentages as you play through the game. Once you get something up to 100%, you'll be awarded with a rare item. There are also multiple new areas to explore once you beat the game as well, so if you let it, Rogue Galaxy will keep you busy for quite awhile!
Overall, Rogue Galaxy is a worth-while game to play, and should help tide over RPG enthusiasts until that next big RPG that they are waiting for. I'll be looking forward to more titles from Level-5 in the future, as I feel they are headed in the right direction as a company. Have fun and keep playing!
Product Release: Rogue Galaxy (US, 01/30/07)
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