Dragon Quest VIII User Review
Life takes you on quite a journey, and the emphasis in our culture is, of course, to continue to look forward towards the things to come. These past experience soon fade from what was once in our thoughts every morning we woke up, to something we reflect on only very occasionally if at all.
My high school volleyball experience is one of these examples. It's almost never on my mind anymore, but when I look at the pictures my mom has at my parent's home or talk with an old friend, the memories flood back with a familiar and warm feeling.
The same applies to my experience with Dragon Quest VIII. It's almost 5 years old now and possesses my thoughts rarely, but even still when I look at the box art or see pictures of screenshots or wallpapers on the internet, I'm flooded with a variety of warm feelings that prompt me to give it another whirl!
The greatest aspect of this game is the fact that, although it's new, graphically appealing, and has incorporated a bunch of new additions from previous titles, it's still very much a traditional Dragon Quest/Warrior title that so many have come to know and love.
Graphically it's more than just moving around a 3D world. This game is a cell-shaded, living, and breathing world you are entirely apart of. It's definitely an animated style of artistry, but I feel this lends a hand to make it easier to have much more clear and polished appearance. Everything is smooth and vivid. There is so much color in this world that you will find yourself admiring the scenery just flipping your camera around at different angles. Characters emote, but I would have liked to see a little more fluidity to their facial expressions than just immediately changing from a drawn smile to a drawn frown. Flaws like this, however, are minuscule as the overall feel is astounding. It's a visual treat.
The gampeplay is just... so... awesome. of course, you have to be the type of gamer who appreciates turn based battle. Since that is the purpose of this franchise, that's prefect! Battles are the traditional turn based, enter in everyone's actions, and take damage type of experience. One of the new aspects to this DQ title, is the fact that you can actually see your characters making the actions! It's no longer a mere sword slash appearing through the enemy. This added a lot to the battle experience as the other details remain the same. There are plenty of abilities to learn, and each character has a different set of weapon types they may use. As you level up, you have skill points to distribute to whichever skill you feel best about.
One of -my- favorite parts about equips, is the fact that they may change your appearance. Of course, most of this is just with Jessica, but if you're a regular guy like me, you'll welcome this with open arms. At least the weapons change for everyone else.
Outside of battles, there are a tremendous amounts of events you may or may not participate in. I literally spent 5 hours straight in the casino playing different games (there's 2 casino's). There's a monster arena for creating your own monster teams, and the old medal king medal hunts are back, too! There are towns, people, and an enormous world map to explore. Dungeons are diverse, and exploring is a real treat!
By the way, the story rocks too. Your main character doesn't say anything, but you do get the feeling that he is YOU.
The sound... ah! The sound!!! Voice acting is SUPURB, and the music is just... ah! It's real orchestral music performed by a real orchestra (says so on the box, in fact!), and it's B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! This game just has so much artistry. The sound effects add to every attack. You'll a mix of the old (traditional slime 'bloop' sounds) and the new (first game to have 'puff puff' sound effects... *Blush*).
Control is great, too. You have full reign over every character's actions, and if you don't want control, you can put them on automatic if you like. The camera is smart and easy to use, characters walk or run based on pressure on the analog JS, and everything is customizable. Did I mention there's an alchemist pot you can use anytime to combine items to create new ones!? It's got a big menu of possibilities, too!
Additionally, you will get a tremendous amount of hours out of this game. You should be able to get anywhere from 40-90 hours depending on your style of play and if you like to experience it's entirety. In fact, after you beat the game, there's a whole other dungeon and additional back story to you, the main character that will give you even more hours of play!
Basically, this is a late PS2 gen masterpiece. It's well done, there aren't any glitches (that I could find), it's complete and polished, and exactly what every RPG and Dragon Quest fan wants and MORE. If you have PS2 playing capabilities, and you haven't tried this title, you NEED to. It's one of the most spectacular gaming experiences I've ever had. I'm usually skeptical when trying a new RPG, but this one made it difficult to put down. Everything from the storyline to the gameplay will keep you motivated.
The whole reason I was motivated to write this review was because of my basement cleaning. I was sorting through boxes and came across this during my shelving. I sat down leafing through the instruction manual reliving my days in that world. And it was a warm and fuzzy feeling.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.