If you can put up with the cutesy graphics, Grandia
is one of the longest, most compelling, and most character-driven role-playing games you'll ever spin in your PlayStation. By the time we finished this massive quest, we really cared about the game's characters. (By comparison, our interest in Final Fantasy VII
was focusing more on getting from one transition movie scene to the next).
The main story line is standard role-playing fare. The powerful General Baal has plans to unleash something of a Pandora's box on the world, and you can guess whose job it is to stop him. Grandia provides a world packed with colorful characters who are fun to talk to, and the unconventional combat system lets players pick and choose their fights. The characters in your party grow, as do their magical skills and weapons, meaning there's always some new accomplishment just around the corner that keeps players adventuring long into the night. Role-playing fans should be overjoyed that this conversion from the Sega Saturn classic was made, as it provides weeks of solid adventuring that never becomes a chore. --T. Byrl Baker
- An entertaining adventure with loads of interesting characters
- Characters, weapons, and spells all improve with experience
- Quirky, cutesy graphics won't appeal to everybody
Back in the heyday of Final Fantasy VII, Sega fans around the world hailed the coming of Grandia. Now, nearly two years later, PlayStation RPG fans can finally see what the hoopla was all about. Grandia is a role-playing masterpiece that delivers in all of the ways that really matter. While perhaps a little behind in the technology curve, Grandia's innovation, atmosphere, and story make it one of the most noteworthy RPGs in recent memory.
Long before humans claimed world superiority, the benevolent Icarians ruled the world in peace. After dividing the world in half with a great wall, they used their vast knowledge to transcend the bonds of flesh and become beings of pure light and thought. After their departure, humankind and a horned, feral race developed independently on opposite sides of the world. While humans embraced technology, the other race embraced religion and magic. Humans developed a strong government, and out of that government grew the Garlyle army. Under the corrupt leadership of General Baal, the Garlyle army has been scouring the world for bits of magic and technology that will lead it to the ancient capital of Arent and its secrets. Destined to come into conflict with the army's plans, a precocious 15-year-old, Justin, and his friends, Sue and Feena, stumble on the Garlyle army's plans and begin a globe-spanning race to discover what happened to the Icarians and stop General Baal and his lackeys from awakening a deadly secret.
Grandia is more interesting, playable, and satisfying than most RPGs. To top it off, Grandia is an enormous game, requiring around 60 hours of play time to complete. But what could keep a game so interesting for so long? Three things - the story, the battle system and the world itself.
While the story isn't the most original in the world, it is well done and, like GameArts' flagship Lunar series, focuses on a handful of well-developed characters instead of on the fantastic events that surround them. The story has a charm and sense of wonder built in that makes you feel as though you've actually accomplished something upon reaching a new area, acting as a kind of pacing that rewards you for every advancement. As notable as this is, Grandia's battle system is what really makes the game shine. While many RPGs tend to string a story together with a series of battles that may or may not be fun, Grandia's battle and experience system is just about as fun and rewarding as it gets. Unlike many of today's customization-heavy RPGs, your party is determined by the story. While some would say this limits the customization of your experience, it forces you to get to know the characters that are so central to the story. Additionally, this lack of customization adds a level of familiarity with your characters' individual abilities and strategies - something customization-heavy RPGs tend to ignore.
When wandering the myriad dungeons, you can see monsters approaching to attack, similar to Square's Chrono Trigger. If your party isn't ready for more fights or you just aren't feeling belligerent, you can usually evade these attackers, reducing the frustration found in many random-encounter RPGs. This said, however, many times you will welcome or even seek out encounters to strengthen your party; the battle system is that fun. Grandia's combat system merges bits of Square's Active Battle system with pieces of Lunar's system, all presented from an overhead 2D view. Time constantly flows during battle, pausing only to let you issue a command. The handy IP bar in the bottom right corner of the screen lets you know who's attacking and when - a vital feature, considering that time is a commodity. In addition to the standard RPG elemental and weapon distinctions, you will also have to factor distance into the equation, resulting in a slightly more strategic battle system. Because every character can attack at the same time, battles are generally shorter than those in most RPGs. --Peter Bartholow
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