Vagrant Story (PlayStation) review
"The graphics in Vagrant Story are some of the best I've seen in a while... very smooth and life-like animations, stunning cinemas, phenomenal lighting, detailed polygons... this game's got it all. There is nothing here that's 2D; the characters and environments are all fully 3D."
Square has been bringing us the most stylish and entertaining games on the gaming market. There've been countless epic RPG's, and Square always seems to add a new twist to the whole genre. Vagrant Story is no exception...
The game starts out with an opening ''sequence'' (this is NOT a pre-rendered CG cinema like those found in FF8). Although the cinema is not pre-rendered, that doesn't make it any less cinematic. It has some fancy camera work, and added effects such as blurring in certain parts make it seem very cinematic, giving you the idea that you're watching a movie. While there's no voice acting, the sounds of swords clashing and cool, suspenseful music make it seem more like a movie. The intro lasts just over five minutes, and truly seems like a work of art.
Just after all the opening sequences, you jump right into the game. There is no in-game tutorial (Ed's note: yes there is, and a very helpful one that does more to explain things than the instruction manual), and the only real directions you have for the game can be found in the booklet which comes with the game. To start out, I experimented a little, knowing absolutely nothing about the combat system, etc... It took me about 2 hours to fully get used to the complex battle and equipment system. I'm not going to explain the whole battle system, but I will give you a rough idea of how it plays. In this game, you see the enemies, (there are no random battles). By pressing circle on the controller, a circle forms around the areas your weapon can reach. While there are close range weapons, (swords, axes, etc...), there are also long range ones (crossbows). If there are any enemies in the circle, then you can choose which body part you want to attack, by moving the D-pad. Throughout the game, you will learn abilities which you can assign to triangle, square, or circle. Press the circle another time (after you've chosen which body part and which target you attack), and your character will attack. If you press one of the three buttons which you have a special attack assigned to right as your weapon hits the enemy (kind of like shooting Squall's gunblade in FF8), your special ability (or attack) will be performed. That is a very rough explanation of the basic combat system. There are also other things that I could get into, but won't (like break arts and magic). In the end, the battle system is sort of like Parasite Eve's, but much more complex, and realistic (not to mention the graphics in Vagrant Story rule over PE's anyday).
The graphics in Vagrant Story are some of the best I've seen in a while... very smooth and life-like animations, stunning cinemas, phenomenal lighting, detailed polygons... this game's got it all. There is nothing here that's 2D; the characters and environments are all fully 3D. Spells look very clean and colorful. I particularly like the cast 3D environments, although they can seem rather repetetive. This game is mostly dungeons... You walk into a room, kill the enemies, push the crates, get the treasure, and proceed. Every now and then there is a small sequence where a boss shows up, or characters interact, where you uncover a little more of the very sinister plot. There aren't (to my knowledge) any towns where you actually go in and buy your supplies; you get most of your tools and weapons from chests and enemies. This game really isn't an RPG. You don't gain levels, although you do get certain types of EXP to learn new abilities.
There are save points where you can save, and storage boxes, (you can only carry 64 items at once). The combat is real-time, and doesn't switch into a different screen. If you want a simple explanation of this game, it's a cross between Zelda and Parasite Eve.
This is one of my favorite RPG's (I'll call it that) on playstation. Its cinematic feel really makes it seem like you're watching a movie. I see very few reasons to dislike this game. Although small, reasons do exist. One of them is its repetetive dungeons and battles. Another is its non-beginner friendly battle system, which kind of baffled me in the beginning (''what does that do?'' ''what does this mean?'' ''what the hell was that....'')? That kind of thing came up in my mind way more than it should have. But, if you are satisfied by a spectacularly eye-pleasing, complex game with loads of combat combinations and maneuvers, get this... in my opinion, this game is just about up there with FF8... If not just a hair below.
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)
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