Whenever a new RPG game comes on to the market, I usually compare it to the Final Fantasy series. If the quality doesn’t compare, then I probably won’t like it. I look for a great story, fun gameplay, beautiful graphics, immersive sound... all the things for which Final Fantasy is known. So when I’m bold enough to say a game provides all this right at the beginning of a review, then you know it has to be good. I’m talking about Rogue Galaxy from Sony Computer Entertainment. Not only does this game provide all the great aspects of the Final Fantasy series, it also has a cool action-oriented combat system that will keep you playing till the end.
You start playing the game as Jaster Rogue, a high-spirited young man who is a bit bored with his current life and always on the lookout for adventure. It doesn’t take long for him to find the excitement he seeks when he encounters a mysterious bounty hunter, engages in a few battles and then finds himself on a space pirate ship called the Dorgengoa. Aboard the ship he is joined by an initial cast of space pirates (Steve, Simon, and others) who take him through the galaxy to visit many new places. As you play the game, you’ll eventually meet more characters and you’ll also be able to play the game as those other characters, but the central story revolves around Jaster. You will travel to many different places and go on many quests. In the beginning, the game moves a bit slowly, but this helps you learn the many aspects of the gameplay. As time goes on, things keep getting more and more interesting; so just trust me when I say the many hours it takes to make it through this game are well worth the effort.
One of the most exciting aspects of Rogue Galaxy is the combat. You get to use both action and RPG-based maneuvers as you battle all the enemy monsters. There’s hand-to-hand combat, shooting, and swordplay that is similar to what you would find in an action game. But as you battle, you can also use items and special abilities called Revelations and the game will pause similar to all RPGs. Other RPG combat maneuvers include being able to switch characters (to control someone else in your group) and to issue team commands to change how your entire group will engage the enemy. In addition, as you fight an action gauge is depleted and once it is empty you must wait for it to be restored in order to be able to attack again. This combination of both action and RPG elements are what make the game interesting. Not only that, but as you win each battle each of the game’s characters gain experience and become more powerful. This also goes for the weapons that you use. Weapons gain battle experience and (later on in the game) can even be combined to form more powerful weapons for some awesome destructive power.
Just as interesting are the items and character ability aspects of Rogue Galaxy. As you find items in the large number of treasure chests scattered throughout the game, you can place them onto a special map (unique to each character) to unlock many different abilities. You’ll also find a factory assembly minigame (later on in your travels) that will allow you to use parts and materials to create new items, which you can then buy at the various stores you’ll encounter. This a fun and unique twist on the usual find and acquire items process found in most other games. Of course, there are other minigames that expand on the main game, and there are some bonus levels and a brand new planet that have been added since the release of the Japanese version.
The graphics in Rogue Galaxy are excellent. And the cutscenes are unique in that they are presented using the game’s graphics engine rather than being pre-rendered. What’s cool about this is that if your characters are equipped with different items throughout the game, the cutscenes reflect this. Loading times are kept to a minimum and the game runs very smoothly. The musical score, sound effects, and voice acting are also impressive. Some of the character’s lines can be repetitive at times, but you can turn this off in the options if you’d like.
As a fan of the Final Fantasy games and RPG games in general, I enjoyed Rogue Galaxy with its action-based twist on standard RPG combat. A good RPG must have a good storyline, good gameplay, good visuals and good sound to really be successful in today’s market. Rogue Galaxy has all of these aspects and provides a few nice twists to make it a definite winner.