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Rogue Galaxy Review

Developer: Level-5 Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: January 30, 2007 Also On: None

After releasing the remarkably successful Dragon Quest VIII in 2005, Level 5 is up to their old tricks again, giving us a tale of galactic proportions. Rogue Galaxy for the PlayStation 2 mixes a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and sets the bar for all 2007 RPGs. Rogue Galaxy puts you in the shoes of a young boy named Jaster Rogue, a 17 year old orphan who makes a living hunting beasts on the desert planet Rosa, which is currently being occupied by the Longardian Commonwealth.

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The soldiers are there supposedly for the planet’s protection against the Draxian Empire, but actually are there to mine the planet’s rich resources. Jaster is provoked by a mysterious bounty hunter to take down a very large beast attacking the town, but at the sight of two quirky robots, Simon and Steve, the mysterious man disappears. Jaster and the robots are left to fend for themselves. Once the beast is defeated, the two robots talk Jaster into the crew of the notorious space pirate, Dorgengoa, and Jaster’s adventure truly begins.

The first thing you’ll notice is that this game is visually stunning. Taking from it’s predecessor Dragon Quest VIII’s graphics style and adding it’s own unique twist, Rogue Galaxy has created a world, nay, a universe of cel-shaded beauty. All of the environments seem fresh and original, as do all the game’s unique characters. You would never think that they could make a cel-shaded game could look this good. The voice acting for the characters is fair and each character’s voice suits them well, but it isn’t quite on par with that of Final Fantasy XII or Dragon Quest VIII.

The game’s battle system seems fresh and unique at first, but doesn’t shed its true skin until hours in. All battles are random and free roaming. You control one of three characters in your party, switching between short and long ranged attacks to eliminate your enemies. The X button controls your short ranged attack and square controls your long ranged. Fighting is fun at first, but once you realize you have a very limited repertoire of moves, battles can become a flurry of button mashing. Triangle brings up your battle menu, allowing you to use abilities, items, change equipment, or switch characters. The only problem with this is that the battle stops when you open the menu, making it very easy to heal, revive, or do whatever it is you need to do, taking away some of the strategic and ‘on your toes’ elements that the game could have had.

Each character also has an action gauge. Every action you take, attacks, items, abilities, takes away a certain amount of that gauge. Once the gauge is empty you have to wait until it recharges before you can act again. Recharging usually takes around 5 seconds. However, if you successfully block an enemy’s attack with R1, the gauge will instantly replenish itself. You have the ability to issue commands to whomever you wish or even switch characters in mid battle. Regardless of whom you control, teammates will ask for your permission to use certain attacks, spells or items. A box appears, showing two options your teammate is thinking of using. Once the box is on-screen, you have five seconds to choose what you want them to do. If you don’t want them to do either, simply click L3 and the box will go away. This makes it so that you don’t have to go to the menu every time you want to accomplish something, making battles go much faster.

Each character has a vast number of abilities to learn. Similar to Final Fantasy XII’s License Board, abilities are obtained through a system the game calls the Revelation Flow. Each person’s Flow (which is basically just a big board) has a bunch of squares in groups, with arrows that lead to other groups. Each square has a certain mystery item that has to be equipped to that square. Once you obtain all items for a group of squares, you get a new ability. Once you’ve unlocked that ability, all groups on the receiving end of the arrows become available to unlock. Unfortunately the game tells you when you have an item that can be used on a character’s Revelation. Not only that, but the game also tells you which characters need that item, what item to use, and which square to equip it to, making the entire concept a little bit too easy, and even unsatisfying at times. Even though most abilities are cool (they even have their own short cutscenes) and can be useful at times, you have to use them through the menu, which stops the fast-paced flow of the battle. You will often find yourself ignoring the abilities that you work so hard to reveal.

One of the most exciting parts of the game is the weapons system. Each weapon has a certain base strength, as well as bonus stats to specific elements, depending on the weapon. As you use your weapon, it gains experience and grows in strength, raising the weapon to “max” status. If your weapon has reached this status, after every battle a random elemental stat will receive a +1 until all stats are maxed out (at which point you have “mastered” the weapon). In addition to leveling up your weapons, you can also synthesize two weapons together to make new ones. But there’s a catch: before you can combine two weapons, both weapons must at least be at “max” status, which makes leveling up your weapons worthwhile.

Rogue Galaxy also hosts a variety of mini-games, including a very complex factory in which you can create special items and weapons, as well as an insect fighting arena, similar to Dragon Quest VIII’s monster arena. There’s also a slew of optional side-quests and a bounty hunting system that rewards you points for killing a certain number of each enemy you encounter. You can also take on special marks that reward you many more points for defeating.

Rogue Galaxy is certainly one of the most enjoyable RPGs I have played in my time. Not once during this game did I ever feel like there was nothing to be done. Unfortunately for hardcore RPG fans, Rogue Galaxy is also one of the least challenging RPGs I have come across, sacrificing strategy and player innovation for tediousness and common sense. Getting what you want usually boils down to a rinse and repeat cycle that leaves you with a lesser sense of satisfaction once you actually obtain it. With that said, Rogue Galaxy is definitely a solid RPG with fun new concepts and 100+ hours of fun that I’d recommend to any RPG fan.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.6
Written by Matt Evangelista Review Guide