"I never expected BOF3 to satisfy me this much. After playing the game, I'm willing to place it in my top 10 RPG's of all time, just because I love the atmosphere, the way it's presented, the characters, and almost everything about it. It may not meet some gamers' expectations, but I just love how it all falls together. "
As the first installment of the BOF series on PSX, I was kind of curious as to what the game would be like. Having not played the prequels, I didn't know what to expect, but after reading reviews and seeing screenshots, I figured I had to get the game. I mean, what isn't cooler than being able to change into a dragon during combat? Not only that, but the visuals looked very satisfying, with smooth, crisply designed sprites on an expansive 3D environment. I was more excited about this game than I had been in a while--And I had to wait nearly a month after the original release date due to delays. When I finally purchased it, I was blown away by everything the game had to offer.
When it comes to the actual mechanics and flow of the game, BOF3 does everything right. The game revolves around dungeons, exploration, character interaction, simple puzzle-solving and storyline. The random battles are frequent, but not to the point where it'll drive you insane. The dungeons are well-planned out and have some puzzles which actually require a bit of thought. However, what's really great about the game is the battle system; its beauty lies in its simplicity. Naturally, you can perform all the standard options of an RPG--Attack, defend, magic, item, but the menu has been streamlined for ease of use. Instead of seeing blocky and unattractive words, the battle commands have been replaced by little pictures or icons. Another nice feature is the main character, Ryu's ability to change into a dragon during the game.
The dragons you can change into are decided by the combination of ''genes'' you select during battle. You'll collect over a dozen genes on your journey, each with a different attribute. This is a really nice touch, because there are tons of cool combinations for you to experiment with. Plus, when else in a videogame have you had the opportunity to change into a dragon at will?
Exploration is fun, and has been made slightly more interesting than in the average RPG. As you travel around, each character has a ''field ability.'' These range from the ability to push large objects, cut down trees, fish, etc., depending on the character. This adds a nice feeling to the game, even if it's not terirbly complex.
Another nice idea which was incorporated into BOF3 is the master system. As you progress in the game, you will meet a variety of different ''masters'' who will be willing to take you as their apprentice. Each character can have one master, and this impacts their stats and abilities as they level up. Certain masters specialize in physical attacks, others in magic--It all depends on how you want to shape your characters. This is a very interesing system which I've never encountered before. Certain masters are hard to find and require you to complete certain tasks before taking an apprenticeship with them. This, with the gene system, just adds in a game-long miniquest of little tasks for you to complete.
The graphics are simple, but still nice too look at. The scheme is 2D polygons in a 3D environment. You can revolve the camera to find hidden items and characters, which makes the game feel more 3D. Compared to the old SNES BOF games, this is a major advancement. In-battle effects and animations look superb and nicely colored. I particularly like the character designs, which include a half-tiger, a giant living onion, Ryu himself and a large dragon-like ''guardian'' with wings. The game just has a very nice visual style which should be attractive to most gamers.
While the story doesn't really take off until fairly late in the game, all of the little sub-stories are very satisfying. The game starts out with young Ryu being found in the woods by two thieves. The first three hours or so of the game are based around those three main characters trying to survive and better their presently horrendous reputation in their small hometown. All of this unravels quite nicely, at a steady, leisurely pace. Everything seems to be getting better for these character until a terrible event takes place where Ryu and his friends are separated. From there, Ryu finds himself in a different place, and throughout the rest of the game, you'll be wondering what happened to those characters. You'll meet new friends, and the story will go on as usual. Until one of the final areas, the game mostly revolves around the character relationships and subplots, but these are still very entertaining. I found myself actually caring about the characters. Lots of questions will pop-up throughout, keeping you guessing and speculating.
BOF3 is a lengthy adventure--It should take you 40 or so hours to complete. With all the little side-quests and optional tasks to undertake, it could take a lot longer. It proves to be quite a challenge, finding all the masters and genes, which are the main sub-quests of the game. All in all, this game will take you a long time, also because of its steep difficulty. There are some dungeons and bosses that you will have to try multiple times before conquering them. There are also plenty of funny little tasks and mini-games to complete--including fishing.
I really enjoy the music from BOF3. It's hard to describe, because, simply put, it's RPG music. If you've played either of the other BOF games, or any Final Fantasy games, you'll know the type of music I'm talking about. It's quirky, it's fun, at times it's sad, action-packed and riveting. The sound effects are nice as well, with cool battle cries when your characters attack, and interesting
I never expected BOF3 to satisfy me this much. After playing the game, I'm willing to place it in my top 10 RPG's of all time, just because I love the atmosphere, the way it's presented, the characters, and almost everything about it. It may not meet some gamers' expectations, but I just love how it all falls together. Definitely a keeper for any RPG fan.
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)
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