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    dkirschner's Grandia III (PS2)

    [October 29, 2012 06:25:25 AM]
    Had a 3-day holiday weekend and my roommate left for the time, so I figured I'd have a nice gaming marathon. That ended in me not so much playing and beating Grandia 3, but letting it run on auto-pilot while I did most of my readings for the week, and got a lot of other odds and ends done on my computer and around the house. Never played a Grandia game before, but it seemed a pretty standard hi-production value JRPG. Nothing too too special going on, and my life would have been fine had I never played it. But it was fun enough.

    The coolest thing about Grandia 3 is the battle system. It's a kind of action/turn-based hybrid where space, timing, and targeting matter. Battles take place on a field. You can't move with the joystick at will, but if you defend you can choose where to run. And your characters do actually run to engage enemies, and enemies run around. There's also knockback and you can launch enemies in the air to chain combo attacks. So, executing an attack isn't automatic. They have to run to the enemy first, which is where the timing and spatial awareness come in to play. On the way to an enemy, or while charging a spell or something, you can be attacked, which will slow you down. There is one basic combo type attack, one critical attack (for knocking enemies in the air to begin an aerial combo and for canceling enemy abilities), then there are special moves (inherent to the characters) and magic (which you equip).

    In the upper left hand corner of the screen is what is called (I think) the IP dial, which is divided into 3 parts: wait, command, and action. Every character is represented on the dial. Characters' icons move clockwise around it through the wait section. At the beginning of the command section, you give your command. Enemies will give commands at any point, but no one begins carrying out moves until they pass through the command section to the action section. If you choose a regular combo attack or the enemy chooses a normal attack, you quickly move through the command section to the action section. So you will probably act before a character who gets a magic or special move command. They move through the command section at a slower speed. There's some nice risk and reward at work. This is where interrupting comes in. You can time criticals or special moves to interrupt enemies who have been given a magic command or something and send them back into the wait section. Strategy for fighting really involves staying alert as to what enemies are doing, canceling their moves, and knocking them back to the wait section. Once they reach the act section, they carry out their action, then back to the wait section. It's neat, and battles are very fluid.

    So earlier when I set I let the game go on auto-pilot, what I mean is that i took advantage of the friendly AI settings. You can set your party (0-4 characters) to run on a couple different scripts. They will be 'rational' which is trying to choose the best strategies for the situation using all their tools, or they will be 'fair' which is only using regular attacks and criticals (no specials or magic), or they will be 'wild,' which is they will go all out. I quickly realized that the AI battles more efficiently than me and battles take about 1/2 the time it takes me. So by an hour or so into the game, I just let the AI take over all the battles. I'd just navigate the maps and did other things during battles, like read for class or pay my bills or clean my room or whatever. I just listened for the victory music. This worked like a charm for like 95% of the game, even with boss fights, up until near the end when my AI crutch couldn't handle some of the tougher enemies and started making really dumb decisions. So by the end I was monitoring more closely or doing some fighting on my own. But what a way to 'play' a game!

    As far as the rest of the game goes, it's really nothing special. It's very pretty, especially the scenery, and some of the big monsters and the Guardians look awesome. The sound is quite good, and the music was excellent, especially the sad passages. There is a particular violin part that kept giving me goosebumps. The voice acting was good enough. Lots of emotion. The game itself followed a decent story, rebirth of an old god, yada yada, and had a really irritating focus on the power of love. Granted it was handled alright, but I was over RPGs being obsessed with love and friendship before I ever played one. The beginning especially was this cheeseball intro about the main character wanting to fly. The more lame bits are spread out and easy enough to look past. It's still an emotional game at times. The part where the son leaves his mom really worked for me because it explored the tension she felt between wanting him to go run off with a girl and wanting him to stay at home with her. The villains were not done very well. I'm not exactly sure why the bad guy was bad. And there are a lot of just unexplained villains who exist for no purpose that I could figure out. There's this mysterious guy throughout the whole story and he does nothing at all, hardly even talks, until he betrays another bad guy and then gets killed by the reborn god. Okay. What was the point of him? Anyway, I could go on about loose ends and things that weren't explained very well.

    Finally, the game is completely linear. Like y=ax+b. It's weird playing an RPG with 0 exploration elements or side quests. I literally found nothing off the path to do. And you even have a plane to fly! But there is simply nowhere to go! Really bizarre. With a name like Grandia, I expected it to be, I don't know, more grand. Even if this wasn't the best or most thought-provoking game ever, it was still enjoyable and entertaining, and I got a lot done while playing/monitoring it.
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    dkirschner's Grandia III (PS2)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 25 October, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Monday 29 October, 2012

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Neat RPG so far. Old school feel with a neat battle system and some neat conversation presentation. Autobattle AI makes fighting extra work. ---------- Fun enough. Lots of unexplained story and some pointless characters.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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