Rogue Galaxy - PS2 Review
With the Playstation 2 nearing the end of its life (at least for what we would call hardcore games - casual and youngster-targeted games will be coming for a couple more years yet) and finding new games for 'gamers' is getting harder by the month. But there are still a couple of standout titles heading to the console this year, and Rogue Galaxy could very well be the biggest this Christmas. The game has been developed by Level-5 and while they may not be household names to most you would certainly know their last creation - the superb Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King for Square-Enix, and distributed in Australia by Ubisoft. Indeed this game isn't too dissimilar - it's another RPG with more game then most next-gen games put together. Well, ok, perhaps not that much but you can easily spend a couple of weeks playing through this monster title.
|Zegram attacks the enemy!|
The storyline in Rogue Galaxy is a little lighter then some bigger RPG’s but it’s engrossing enough to keep you hooked. At the far edge of the galaxy on the desert planet Rosa, a young man named Jaster dreams of journeying through space. In a sudden turn of fate, he is recruited to join the crew of space pirate Dorgengoa in a race to find a legendary planet that holds the key to the greatest of treasures... eternal life. However another party, led by the Daytron Corporation, is also searching for the same planet. Jaster and the crew of Dorgenalgen Ark-Go will have to battle the Daytron Corporation across the vast galaxy as they race to put the pieces of the portal together that will allow them to stake their claim to the treasure.
As soon as you start Rogue Galaxy you’ll be hooked. A gorgeous pre-rendered sequence sets up a bit of the storyline, but it will be only minutes before you’re thrust into the meat of the game – and straight into battle with a massive scorpion like creature destroying the city. As you start to make your way around the game for the first time screens pop up detailing the many options available to you, from using weapons, to equipping items, and ordering the other members in your party around (or indeed switching to them). The main character you follow is that of Jaster Rogue, however there are seven other playable characters that you’ll encounter in your travels. It’s possible to switch between characters in your party too which is nice.
|Rogue Galaxy really looks great.|
Combat is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game. It actually takes place in real-time with each character having primary and secondary weapons. You can move around the battlefield, issue orders to other members of your party, use and equip items. While in battle the other characters in your party may even make suggestions to improve you chances – perhaps use a certain technique, or heal someone – and also offer you a shortcut (by pressing L1) to performing the action to save you having to go through menus.
Indeed the best aspect is that the battles require some strategy. While some games require you to simply drain the entire HP from enemies before they drain yours in this game you’ll also need to use some strategies to defeat foes. Take the first scorpion like boss in the town. Rather then just attack his head you must first break the shackles off his legs. Break these and the shield over his brain will break away exposing it to attack. To get up there though you need to create a series of platforms, jump up there and then hack away.
|Your party needs healing quickly!|
In terms of upgrades each of the characters has what is called a 'Revelation Flow'. Essentially this is a board which allows you to place objects (many of them rare and taking a little to find) in order to unlock other abilities for the characters. It isn't too dissimilar to the license board used in Final Fantasy XII and fans of that series (and I'm sure there are a few of you) will fit right into this perfectly.
I'm not sure if it was deliberate or not but some of the characters and setups in this game are hilarious. Within the first few moments you'll meet Steve - a robot so similar to C3PO in terms of looks, mannerisms and dialogue that you can't help but chuckle. Having said that the game never reaches absurd, and just like C3PO’s wisecracks in Star Wars, it seems to suit the game world perfectly. Another big plus for this game is the near non-existent loading - there's no loading when you move from outdoor to indoor locations and even when there is loading between main sections it's minimal.
Now we haven’t played overseas versions of the game but the lengthy wait for the European/Australian release hasn’t just been for translation purposes. Level-5 has spent time balancing the game from Japanese version which had some very hard sections, and then very easy sections. Graphics have been touched up, load times decreased. Pacing in the game has also been improved to keep the story moving along. Most impressively a completely new world called Alistia has been created and provides a decent side quest to the main plot. In terms of actual gameplay, the Burning Strike command has been added so gamers can now take complete control over their combo attacks and when they will occur - in the Japanese game these were random. It’s great to see games companies taking the time, when available, to improve a game for local markets.
|What's an RPG without dungeons.|
This is a long game too. If you belt through the main quest ignoring all the side quests and explorations you’re probably up for a good 40-50 hours of game time here. If you take your time, divert to some of the side-quests, bug hunting missions or mini-games you can probably double that number quite easily. Given that the game is being released here in Australian for only $AU79.95 this is among the best value we've seen for a video game in some time.
So there has to be some issues with Rogue Galaxy doesn't there? Well not really. At least there's nothing here that causes headaches or a need to throw the controller. Sure, the storyline is a little more linear and predictable then some storylines in other RPGs but it remains better then many other titles. Unfortunately some of the locations can be a little linear with little option to explore vast areas as one would associate with a massive RPG. I would have also liked to see the developers eliminate the 'random' battles. This far into a systems life, and as has started taking place with other games, it would be nice to see the enemies running around the game world before choosing to either attack or avoid them. Finally there's a little too much menu navigation for my liking however given the depth of options it is a little understandable.
|Your party looks pretty healthy.|
So you thought that Dragon Quest VIII looked good? It certainly did but Rogue Galaxy steps it up another notch in our book. The cel-shading effect used for the characters is probably the best we’ve seen on the PS2 to date. Animation is solid and their actual design is quite unique throughout the entire game. The backgrounds are varied and include a lot of detail although there is the odd occasion when the texturing could be a little sharper. It takes a lot to impress me on the PS2 – we’ve seen what the system is capable of over the years and are quite happy to report that this is one of the finest hours. If there is one complaint though it’s that there is no widescreen mode for the game – but we do get 50 and 60Hz options which are great.
Sound design is also impressive (are you getting the hint that this is a great game yet?). First and foremost the character voices are impressive. There’s some great variety from the previously mentioned C3PO-inspired Steve, to a very Billy Connelly sounding Simon. The orchestral music is fantastic with some great variety between various locations.
|Now that's enemy design...|
If you love RPG’s this is a no brainer – even if you’ve moved on to next-gen systems there is still a fine game to be found in Rogue Galaxy. While the graphics will be a step back from next-gen systems the gameplay is just as good, if not better, then almost every single next-gen title – and with a much lower price. One to add to your shopping cart – or even your Christmas list! Superb.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
Talk about Rogue Galaxy in this forum topic now.
|GRAPHICS||SOme of the best graphics we've ever seen on PS2.||93%|
|SOUND||Great voice acting is back with solid music and effects.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||It can be repetitive, but nailing the run is a thrill.||88%|
|VALUE||At least 50 hours gametime, double that if you explore.||91%|
|OVERALL||Rogue Galaxy is a stunning RPG that is quite possibly one of the very last great 'hardcore' games on Sony's system. This is a must-have game on the PS2 and should be in your collection now!||91%|