Title: Grandia Xtreme
Platform: Playstation 2
Developer/Publisher: Game Arts/Enix
Overall Score: 53%
Short Synopsis: Offering the best version of one of the nicest RPG combat engines ever developed, this game delivers countless hours of highly enjoyable combat. Unfortunately, that's about it.
Graphics - 8
So far, the best graphics of the Grandia series. But the first two were for the Saturn and Dreamcast, so that's not saying too much. The 'map screen' graphics are smooth, but very mechanical, blocky and don't seem to move naturally. Fortunately, the all-important fight graphics are significantly better and more fluid. Not cutting edge by any means, but the character styles of attacking and special moves are both smooth and fast on a level to put many street-fighting games to shame. In combination with the design of Grandia's dynamic fighting engine, the camera-angle AI is near-flawless in execution.
Sound - 5
A couple decent tracks, but plenty of unmemorable ones. In fact, the only tracks that truly stand out are the ones in the bonus dungeon, which are actually from the first two Grandia games. So this isn't really a high point for the game. Uh, the in-battle sound effects are pretty decent, I suppose.
Gameplay - 10
While the second game gives some stiff competition, it's fairly easy to argue that this game has the smoothest, quickest, best looking, most refined, and most enjoyable version of Grandia's combat system. Everything is laid out efficiently, it requires only a short time before even a novice becomes comfortable with it, and even traditionally useless status effects have been adjusted to become potent options for players.
As an added bonus, every level in the game can be replayed, and is periodically made tougher so that the challenge is maintained for quite some time. So you can fight through the levels to your heart's content, which is actually quite enjoyable. Especially in lieu of continuing the game's plot...
Plot - 2
The plot bites. Oh gods, the plot bites. Whoever wrote it should have their fingers broken. Or even better, get a boot up the ass, which is where most of the game's "plot developments" clearly originate.
In all seriousness (and keeping this spoiler-free), new plot items are introduced at the drop of a hat, with no consideration for the flow of the story. And once introduced, instead of expounding on them, they're concluded in the simplest, shortest possible way, whether it's believable or not. Also to be found are bungled attempts at romance, mourning, homesickness and music.
Characters - 3
Another downer. A couple of the characters are vaguely original and interesting, except they're background characters and not very important. All the really important characters are rather dull to begin with. And that's before you get to hear them spout their canned dialague at each other, complete with inappropriate pauses, overdone anger and angst, and script writers who have not discovered apostrophes. Seriously, I was embarrassed just listening to most of it, and strongly suspect the voice actors weren't even given a chance to rehearse their lines. It's worse than listening to pre-schoolers try to recite Shakespeare.
Replay Value - 4
This score would be considerably higher if replaying the game didn't require you to suffer through the game's "dialogue" for a second time. And there's no New Game+ or alternate path to take through the game's "plot" the second time around. Despite that, after beating the game, it's still surprisingly enjoyable to fight through the various levels again, without all those high-end spells and weapons you'd gotten used to.
Grandia Xtreme Reviews
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