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   Rogue Galaxy - Reader Review  

Not every game Level 5 touches turns to gold, but some games come close.
by waterfiend33

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Moderately Easy-Difficult
COMPLETION TIME
50-90 hours
OVERALL

4.0/5

Rating definitions 

   Rogue Galaxy does not have amazing music. The characters are not outstandingly well-rounded and complex. The story does not enthrall you till the last second and leave you begging for more. In fact, the plot even drags at some points, and the game's originality? There's almost nothing about this game you haven't seen in past role-playing games.

   Some games are outstanding in two or three different areas; Rogue Galaxy is just pretty good in every area. Each aspect of the game - from music to battle system to graphics to character development and story - has just enough quality to make the game truly enjoyable.

Attack a boss's weak spot to kill it, while avoiding lethal attacks. Attack a boss's weak spot to kill it, while avoiding lethal attacks.

   The story begins with Jaster, a young city-dweller on a desert planet who is desparate to go into space. A strange twist of fate lands the sword-wielding hero on a space pirate ship, and with the help of his friends, he sets off in search of treasure. Many events in the game seem forced, and serve only to provide another obstacle for the heroes. For example, when the ship crashes into a planet which (rather conveniently) holds the only item that can be used for repair. Nevertheless, each character takes on issues in the game with enough seriousness to make the story seem natural, and the story itself moves at a pleasantly fast pace.

   Battles in the game are generally quick and easy, allowing players to build experience, power up weapons and find items to unlock special abilities. The length and difficulty of battles varies - some bosses can kill two of the party's three active characters in one hit, so it's a good thing items are cheap and available. Regular enemies are rarely hard - destroying a shield, using a special attack, or simply hitting a weak spot are all it takes to kill non-boss enemies. Quarry monsters, one of the game's sidequests, are more boss-like in difficulty and provide a fun diversion from the main quest. Though random battles pop up frequently, they also end quickly.

   While finishing the main game involves little interaction with non-plot characters, some side-quests involve random characters that are hard to find. Side-quests such as the item-creating Factory and ability-unlocking Revelation system involve scouring every nook and cranny of the galaxy for much-needed items. Though some shops sell these items, they are often rare and limited in quantity; keeping track of which enemies drop which rare items is similarly vexing. The game itself does not keep track of such information, so completionists will need to take notes, visit online forums for help, or shell out the cash for a strategy guide. Completing every side quest in the game can tack on another 40 hours to the already-extensive 50 hours required to complete the main quest.

Use the Revelation system to unlock character abilities. Use the Revelation system to unlock character abilities.

   Music in the game is enjoyable and varied. From simple catchy battle tunes to more atmospheric songs, the game's music remains solid throughout, and even offers a nice surprise when it's not expected. In terms of visual beauty, the game is typical Level-5 fare: pretty cell-shaded animation, detailed characters, and large field maps with above-average scenery. Some hidden eye candy can even be found by players who stop to smell the digital roses: a lovely pink nebula, two towers that rise above a city, or a pleasant, misty valley view in a mining town.

   Level 5 advanced an idea in a former title, Dragon Quest 8, that Rogue Galaxy excels at: short load times. The game tries to minimize the time players must wait for a variety of seemingly minor things like loading the in-game menu, starting a battle or waiting for a special ability to load. Because of the level of graphical detail in each of these areas, the game doesn't quite succeed; short periods of non-responsiveness from the controller while music plays and screens load are inevitable. The effect is nonetheless still impressive - except when starting up a saved file, players won't notice more than a few seconds lag for any action in the game.

   Some games take a new idea and run with it, while other offer a new twist on an old game design. Rogue Galaxy does neither, remaining a traditional action RPG with classic story elements and proving that the strength of some games lies in simple, clean execution.

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