Replay Value: 9.7
Developer: Game Arts
Number Of Players: 1
At an attempt to recreate a Sega Saturn classic, Sony acquires the publishing rights to Grandia, while Game Arts develops it. If you haven't heard of Grandia it's a Sega Saturn title that never made here to the US. Apparently because of the Saturn's tragic death. Many Japanese critics hailed Grandia as the only RPG that can be compared to Final Fantasy 7. Grandia was released about 2 years ago (I think), and was Saturn's savior in Japan. After a while Sony acquired the rights to publish the game here ii the U.S. but for Playstation. Find out how Grandia fared in this review.
As we all know by now, Sega Saturn was quite a powerful system in it's days. It packed more RAM than the Playstation, but the PSX had better sound technology. Saturn's version of Grandia played smooth, never choppy and the frame rate was always at it's highest. But the PSX version suffers just a little bit, from slow frame rate. When starting out in your home town, if you walk around you will notice at times the frame rate speeds up. When there are objects around the frame rate drops. Although that really doesn't kill the game in general, it does make it a little more frustrating to walk around towns.
Let's change the subject, I want to talk about CGs, every RPG game has them and so does Grandia. Although not as impressive as Final Fantasy 8's or Resident Evil 3's, Grandia are still not bad. The game mixes the CGs with anime. What I really liked about this game is that they used Anime characters, instead of something more realistic. I like watching animes, and I like to see them in RPGs. They give games more flavor and character. As for the backgrounds I can safely say that they look quite good, instead of using pre-renderings, the game uses polygonal environments. I can assure you while playing this game you feel as if you are playing a sequel to Xenogears. The top down view, the graphics, the anime, and so much more. Keep reading to know more.
The main reasons this game reminds me of Xenogears is because it reflects it's overall appearance. It's battle engine is similar and the character animations are very alike too. But it isn't a bad thing at all, that is actually an excellent aspect. I enjoyed Xenogears a lot and after I got through it I wanted more. That's exactly what Grandia delivers, flawless gameplay, great story, and no random battles! Yep you heard right, no random battles, you can either encounter your enemy by walking up to it or the enemy will encounter you. The battle system as mentioned before is strikingly similar to that found in Xenogears. You have a variety of choices to pick from, you can either do a Combo, a Critical hit, a Magic, Plan your tactics, or escape. Like every other RPG out there you gain skills as you battle, and you know getting them you have to earn exp.
Comparing this game to Final Fantasy 8, I can say that Grandia has a better story line, but FF8 is much deeper. Grandia's basic gameplay is far less complicated than FF8's. So if you enjoyed FF8 but knew that it was a little difficult adjusting to, you won't find that problem in Grandia. The game features tons of great dialogue which is spoken during key sequences, the voice acting is good but I'll get to the later. If you though Xenogears was great, you have seen nothing yet. Playing Grandia almost feel like playing an excellent sequel to Xenogears.
You'd think that all you do in RPGs is read, your technically right, but that isn't the case with Grandia, or at least not always. What I'm saying is during key segments you will hear voice acting along with the text at the bottom. The voice acting clarity is very, very clear, on time and never late. Kind of like another Square title Brave Fencer Musashi, where voice acting only occurs during key segments. The tunes offered in Grandia are pretty good, but don't expect much from a RPG title.
The control is very nicely laid out. I didn't find myself struggling to know what button is what. O is to cancel, X is to except, triangle opens the menu, and Square zooms in. I found the control very good, and the dual shock is supported nicely.
In the end Grandia proves to be one of the best RPGs out there. If you finished FF8 make sure to pick up Grandia. It's 2 CD package will keep you going a long time. The game's loveable characters, beautiful animes, great voice acting, and everything else will leave you crying out for more Grandia. Definitely a game for the holidays.