RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Grandia 3

Genre: JRPG
Release Date: August 4th 2005
Platforms: PS2
Score: 6/10
Similar: Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest

The graphics aren't bad.

Grandia 3 is the final game in a great but deteriorating series. Although the plot and characters cling to the stereotype and refuse to decease in hitting you with the generic stick; at the end of the day it doesn't stop Grandia from being a JRPG worthy of Square-enix.

The characters are kinda horrible though.

If you have played any of the previous games in the franchise you may be comforted to notice some recurring themes, for example - your party sitting down to eat a meal while advancing through dialogue; and an extremely nostalgic replica combat system. Oh, and the story seems kinda regurgitated too, but more on that later.

The combat system is simple yet addictive.

Before writing this article, I began researching Grandia 3 for some background information. I found a surprising amount of reviews and comments with people complaining that the battles become too difficult - nope. This game isn't hard, although it can be hella boring come disc 2 when the battles get ridiculously long. If you use each character to their maximum potential I doubt you will have any trouble getting to the end (I say this having not seen the game over screen as of yet).

Spell animations are way over the top.

The opening cutscene of the game reveals Yuki, a young pilot. After a little dillydallying around you end up saving a young girl with elf ears for no apparent reason. This is Alfina, the main heroine who shouldn't say anything because quite frankly; my brain just doesn't feel obligated to translate any of the stereotypical bullshit that comes out of her mouth. Promptly after this quirky rescue the party start their JRPG journey; under the pretense of helping Alfina becoming a communicator of the gods, and stopping her evil brother. Hooray.

Yuki and Alfina, the main couple.

Other party members include:
- Some scumbag gambler guy called Alfonzo or Alonso with a magical boat like Doctor who and his tardis, bigger on the inside.
- Ulf, 10 year old dragon rider kid. Douchebag.
- Fortune card lady Dahna, this one was so unremarkable it took me a frustrating amount of time to remember her name.
- Hect. Musician, bard, looked promising when you first saw her, but in then end a disappointing let down just like the rest.

These portals to another realm are supposedly dangerous.

I believe the main fault of the characters is the lack of the cool one, or the Auron, as me and my friends like to say. Nevertheless, I'm sure this childish setup and dull atmosphere is to someones tastes. Hopefully not a child, I wouldn't want him brought up brainwashed by a shit game instead of a good one.

Resurrecting your party members in battle is common.

As you can see, I'm a little upset that the story doesn't quite hold out as well as the predecessors. It lacks a tension build up, simply because the characters aren't always fun to listen to - Yuki doesn't perform well as the protagonist of the game, and the others aren't exactly memorable either. The main duo don't have any semblance of a rapport. This means feeling empathy towards the party and their problems is a struggle at best.

There are a variety of enemies, renditioned from the previous games.

The English translation is to blame for the most part, followed by the somewhat disappointing plot crescendo. Overall, there is a definite reason Grandia III is elusive on those top JRPG lists (other than the small budget).

Wandering around the world is possibly the best feature Grandia 3 has to offer; people you talk to often have more than one thing to say, and you don't have to listen to the poor voice actors. Moreover, running around collecting items and shopping can actually give you the time you need to fool yourself into thinking you're playing a good game.

The main antagonist isn't really this cool.

Before you turn away from this game in disgust, I'd like to point out the combat isn't half bad - even if the originally pretty spell animations send you out of your mind after casting them over and over. because of this, I also found disc 2 pretty unbearable. There are no random encounters, which leaves you dodging enemies in the field. Yuki also has the ability to hit enemies before contact, allowing you to get in a somewhat useless preemptive strike.

Selecting abilities in battle gets tedious.

As you begin your journey you will discover simple magic like howl and boom, this is when combat is interesting and fun, spending your time adjusting spells to hit the right enemies and cancelling some dangerous attacks. It's a shame the fighting later on is less about picking the right magic, and more about watching it for the millionth time.

While most battles you will simply pick the attacks that hit the most targets, there is some utility to be found in using cancel attacks to delay the enemy. The quirks of combat wear out quickly, and it gets slower paced as more enemies start to use extravagantly long spells. It is a good idea to plan your moves wisely at the start of a fight, if only to take out as many enemies as possible before all of them start casting the same ability one after another.

The magic fusion system is actually pretty fun.

I felt a little excitement upon first discovering the mana egg machine - a device allowing you to fuse and create spells. It got old quickly. Sadly there is no other character progression other than learning new skills in combat and levelling up, which loses to the rpg games of today with extensive talent upgrades. It is also a shame there is no side content except for a high level monster here and there, restricting you to walking down that linear path until the very end.

Nothing like a big lion thing guy to spice up your game.

Even though my main problem with this game was the story, I believe that was down to my preference more than anything. The biggest flaw is that the overall feel of the game is a little rushed, the combination of minor issues amplify eachother to ruin the experience that should be a comfy JRPG classic. This is one of my first genuinely bad reviews, in the sense that I don't think anyone should waste money on this game unless they are a hardcore Grandia fan or have nothing much else to play.

Hitting enemies outside of combat.

Hey, don't get me wrong - I enjoyed it. But that doesn't change the fact that Grandia III is probably the reason there is no Grandia 4, and also why the franchise doesn't stand out as it should. My final observation is that the creators didn't distance themselves enough from the second game.

Making planes look duller than ever.

I understand some remarks in this review may sounds somewhat excessive and overly derogatory towards the game. But then I recall the time I spent eagerly grinding through boring zones to get to the next story advancement. Upon reaching a new fmv, I realised I was more interested in what was going on in a rerun of an episode of Smallville that I had already seen 3 times. 3 times.

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