Grandia Xtreme Preview
With its previous two installments, the Grandia series has proven to be a respected franchise in the RPG genre. Now, with Enix and Game Arts teaming up to bring us the third game in the series, Grandia looks to build on previous successes while striking out into new territory. Grandia Xtreme is the tale of a young man named Evann and his journey to save the world from a mysterious plague known only as the Elemental Disorder.
Young, rough and somewhat naïve, Evann is one of many powerful Rangers, people in harmony with the Earth and all its cycles. Rangers are not only in touch with the Earth, but they can channel the energy created by it to restore and maintain harmony. As a young Ranger, Evann is practicing diligently to master his skills when he is forcefully recruited into his nation's army to combat the Elemental Disorder. Not much of this 'disorder' is known, except that it is manifesting itself all over the world, bringing with it terrible disaster to both the people and the planet. Under the command of an officer by the name of Diene, Evann is told, unequivocally, that due to his special skills as a Ranger, he must participate in this battle to rid the world of the Elemental Disorder.
Grandia Xtreme will play similar to many conventional RPGs with some slight twists. All exploration will take place in the third person, but there will be no overworld map for players to explore while traveling to different locations. Instead, players will automatically be taken to the places they need to go next. As with most Playstation 2 RPG and adventure games, players can rotate the camera with the L1 and R1 shoulder buttons. The R2 button can be pressed to automatically center the camera, and the L2 button can be used to enter a first person view so that players can get a bearing on their exact position.
For the most part, the game takes place in two types of locales- towns and dungeons. Each dungeon is located near a town so that players can stock up on items and other necessary things before heading off. When in any dungeon, which is where most gameplay occurs, the majority of enemies are visible onscreen, so that battles are not quite random. However, with this slight advantage comes a tradeoff. Being more true to life than most video game dungeons, the lairs in Grandia Xtreme will respond to how players progress. For instance, if you choose to bolt through the dungeon as quickly as possible, you are likely to find yourself in more random battles, especially ones where you are blindsided by your foes. In addition, the faster you choose to progress, the more likely you are to set off random booby-traps located throughout the levels. Therefore, when it comes to exploration in Grandia Xtreme, it pays to be methodical and thorough.
Like most good RPGs, Grandia Xtreme focuses a great deal of gameplay on the battle system. Grandia Xtreme will use a battle system quite similar in style to the IP gauge system found in the first two installments. However, this time around the system will have a much more comprehensive graphical representation, as well as other key improvements. When in battle, a clock like gauge will appear, listing all combatants on screen, whether friend or foe, and the order in which they can attack. This order can change due to real time effects, such as the placement of your characters, and their status. Since your characters can move around the screen while in battle, you can change the order in which they attack. Players can also use this system to their advantage when it comes to magic. Certain types of magic will be limited in their effect to a 'blast radius', so it is imperative that you lure your enemies into this blast area to achieve the maximum effect of your spells. Such innovations should make for a very hectic and dynamic battle system. In fact, Grandia Extreme has already been released in Japan, where it received high marks its unique combat.
Since Grandia Xtreme has already been released overseas, the only thing left for Enix to complete is the localization process. All text and voices will be done in English, and several famous voices have been recruited for this task, such as singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb. Look for Grandia Xtreme to hit store shelves this September.
7/19/2002 Ryan Hartmann