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    Jan 14th, 2008 at 02:31:14     -    Radiata Stories (PS2)

    Part 2, continued from first GameLog entry (for purposes of CMPS 80K)

    GAMEPLAY

    Having familiarized myself with the field and combat systems by now, I find I am able to appreciate the gameplay of Radiata Stories significantly more. So far, the characters have shown substantial development, and I confess several of them have become quite endearing to me. The story still continues to flow in the same mission/quest -based format, but I sense something larger at work here in terms of the overall plot.

    The disbanding and reforming of my party during missions is an event that I have become quite pleased with at this point, as it allows the player to send Jack out on solo-training, as it were. The option of challenging NPCs to fights (accomplished by literally annoying them into a battle via the “kick” action during field play) also offers a considerable amount of practice without the risk of the player getting a Game Over and having to reload should they lose. I find myself making frequent use of this opportunity, and so Jack has grown reasonably strong now in comparison to his teammates.

    This option also allows for a a very different variation in social interaction with NPCs than is usually present in classic RPGs; the player may choose to either talk to a friendly characters, kick them until they fight Jack (or send for the guard to fight him in their stead), or even recruit them into the party if certain requirements have been met.
    On that note: I'm beginning to get a broader scope of just how many recruitable characters feature in this game. While Jack is the only truly fully-playable character at this point, the cast of characters that may be recruited into one's party far exceeds one hundred, giving the game an extensive amount of replay value.

    DESIGN

    From what I have played of Radiata Stories thus far, I would say that most unique element is how effectively the game's light tone is extended to most every facet of it without undermining the actual gameplay. This sort of balance is a difficult one to achieve, and I believe the game has handled it very nicely.
    The way in which Jack interacts with the world around him is incredibly innovative in my opinion, and again, a cheerful humor is relayed to the player whenever he or she makes Jack do something untoward (such as kicking an NPC who is sleeping).

    Most impressive, however, is the complex and varied number of environments and the characters which inhabit them; everyone around Jack goes about their daily business, roaming from point A to point B to spend their time devoted to allotted tasks. This makes for amazingly complex social interaction between characters, as NPCs are frequently very difficult to track down.
    Additionally, the world and its environments are immensely vast, and each of the seven kingdoms and their surrounding areas never fail to be visually pleasing. The map feature makes it very hard to actually get lost, but at times even a single building (such as Radiata Castle) may take hours to fully explore.

    As a compulsive saver, it still irks me that I am often hard-pressed to find a suitable Save Point during missions. It is easy enough to win a long succession of battles without dying (provided one has an adequate stock of Herb Extract), but prospective players ought to be prepared to go an hour or so without saving while on a mission.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 14th, 2008 at 19:15:33.

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    Jan 13th, 2008 at 18:17:58     -    Radiata Stories (PS2)

    SUMMARY

    Radiata Stories is an RPG published by Square Enix which follows the story of protagonist Jack Russell in his efforts as a newly-appointed knight. The player must take control of Jack and guide him, along with his comrades, on various missions and quests. Through combat-based encounters with enemies and interactions with friendly (and not-so-friendly) characters, the player is able to complete these quests and hone the various skills possessed by Jack and his party.

    GAMEPLAY

    While Radiata Stories follows the basic template of RPGs that have come before it, its light-hearted sense of humor sets it apart from the others and their tendency towards the dramatic.
    Although unsure what to make of the rather whimsical-looking dragon shown in the opening cutscene, I found myself responding well to the designs of the main characters. I was, however, a little disappointed to find that the protagonist embodies the general diamond-in-the-rough archetype of the unpolished hero. Inexperienced, lazy, and just a little obnoxious, Jack's personality was one that I met with indifference at the onset of the game. His ignorance of both the vastness of the world beyond his home and the significance of his deceased father's past do add dimension to his character, however the ulterior function of these traits as plot-devices is perhaps a little too obvious.

    The plot and gameplay were quick to remedy my disinclination, though. Rather than giving allowing the player to explore his or her environment or gain some easy battle experience, the game throws the player without warning into the battle that serves as Jack's knighting trials. Being ill-prepared for such an event, I lost quite badly in the first round to the cool and aloof Ridley Silverlake, a young prospective knight who (to Jack's horror) happens to be a girl. The setup of this duel is quite deliberate. Not only does the player have insufficient knowledge of the battle system this early in the game, the difference between Jack and Ridley's strengths is far too great for Jack to actually succeed, even under the control of a far more experienced player.
    I found this break with tradition to be a pleasant surprise that added to the gameplay experience significantly, and also found that I could more easily identify with Jack once he had been taken down a metaphorical peg or two.

    In general, I found the live-action battle system easy to learn but difficult to master. Parrying attacks, for instance, takes a certain amount of practice, and without command of this essential skill the player is likely to see the Game Over screen more than a few times. Gameplay in the field has its share of interesting features too, most notably the “kick” action controlled by the X-button, which allows Jack to investigate his environment by kicking objects, enemies, and townspeople alike. The ability to see enemies approaching in the field view is not new to this game, but it adds an element of decision to battle (whether to fight, and what to fight) that is especially helpful, since Jack and his party can only restore Hit Points through healing as opposed to saving.

    Perhaps one of the most notable elements of the game is the steady flow of time and gradual shifting between day and night, and the level of detail with which this affects Jack's environment, right down the daily lives of the surrounding NPCs. In the first town I journeyed to, becoming involved in the lives of the townspeople provided a pleasant distraction as I waited for the story to progress.
    However, I did find myself growing frustrated when I could not find a Save Point in or nearby said town, particularly after several hours of gameplay that was largely devoted to traveling and leveling up my party.

    This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Jan 14th, 2008 at 19:23:54.

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