|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||The Granstream Saga|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||RPG||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||March 1999||Dual Shock/Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Released on NTSC format almost a year ago, Europe finally gets the
chance to add to their Role Playing collection with this fine RPG.
Many years ago an ancient world is nearly destroyed by war. Two sides - the Army of the Empire of Sorcery and the Army of the Federation of Spirits are fighting for the dominance of their culture. One of the nations unlocked the seal of the forbidden super-weapon causing a massive catastrophe which plunged the world into complete darkness and flooded the Earth.
Four wise men, with extraordinary magic powers lifted up four continents into the air with their magic spells, saving the human race from total extinction . But now the wise men are gone and the continents are slowly sinking into the water. It is even rumored that the Army of the Empire of Sorcery is on the move once again. The only hope left for the salvation of humanity is the glowing Scepter, a legendary object which has been entrusted to a young boy named Eon.
The Granstream Saga is an epic role playing game, and a whole lot more. The storyline is extremely engaging, and the battle scenes almost have the feel of a 3D fighting game. With over a 1,000 weapons combinations and loads of hostile characters, this game has plenty of action.
The opening animated movie grabs you by the scruff of the neck and
prepares you well for the task in hand. It describes the predicament
facing an archaeologist named Valos and his adopted son Eon, the hero of
the game, who must discover a way to save his floating homeland and its
neighboring continents from a deadly descent into the ocean far below.
Each land that floats high in the sky is slowly running out of energy. To
help slow down this descent, parts of the land are being sliced off to
make it lighter by using a magic stone as a cutting tool.
Once the game opened I was initially struck by the brightly colored and detailed environment. Surprisingly everything is constructed from smooth polygons (I had expected a cartoon like animation) and runs along at a commendable frame-rate. Perhaps the strangest thing to get used to was the fact that the characters were void of features, although a large detailed profile appears on screen for each person who is presently speaking.
The main players move away from the childish Japanese midgets that are usually associated with RPG's. Eon is a growing lad with spiky red hair (actually it's nearer to maroon), Adidas tracksuit (well... white tights), brightly colored Aston Villa soccer strip (all right... maroon and blue medieval cape) and brown leather riding boots (could be right there!). Occasionally the game moves into a series of high-quality full-motion anime cut-scenes, which move the story along during key plot points.
Viewed from third person and overhead perspectives the graphics really give the game a great feeling of depth.
Sounds and Effects
There is very little to mention when it comes down to the sound department. All of the speech must be read from the screen apart from the odd occasion during the cut scenes. The fantasy music doesn't get in the way of things and lies quietly in the background, often not noticed. There is very little else to mention, so we will not linger on this topic.
Unlike most role playing games, you have complete control over your
character, and you gain experience as you make your way through the
different levels. There are many obstacles to overcome and you need to use
a combination of skills and magic spells to help you on your quest. Can
you stop a civilization sinking slowly toward despair?
The real beauty of Granstream Saga is that there are no cumbersome menus to use during fighting, instead you can manoeuvre quickly and easily around your enemies, attacking them from all sides. Because of this the button configuration has been kept extremely simple. Face buttons are used to attack/talk, command, defend and use magic. The top two shoulder buttons rotate the camera and the left analog stick guides the character around the set. The Dual Shock is occasionally used to portray the effect of magic. That's it... no sub menus, no combinations, no complex maneuvers... allowing you to get on with the game and enjoy the unfolding story. Of course this will only suit those who find the 'you slap me, I'll slap you' system a trifle boring and prefer their fights to be determined by the more conventional means... fastest to react and the hardest hitter.
Granstream Saga then heads off along the all too familiar RPG path where wise old man leads the way and tells young boy not to follow, but does he listen..? Does he Hell..! Magic is used to move around from level to level where various items and objects are collected and stored for later use.
I quite enjoyed the fighting scenes at first but they soon became a chore because of lack of attacking options. It was simply a case of defend until your enemy has given their best and then whacking them a few times until they finally keels over. Often it felt as if I was following a set of directions rather than waging war against a raging beast. Later in the game the enemies were a great deal harder to beat but patience, rather than skill, eventually prevailed. Oh, I must also mention that the enemies re-appear every time you return to their old haunting ground. I find this system a bitch and complete waste of valuable gaming time.
Value for Money
Granstream Saga concentrates more on fighting, puzzle solving, and story elements rather than menus, shopping, and other characteristic peculiarities and technicalities. Overall it looks great, handles smoothly and should take some time to complete in it's entirety.
loved the bright, colorful polygon environment. It made a pleasant
change from the usual 2D animations.
If you are into RPG's then give it a whirl... at least it will pass some time until Final Fantasy VIII has been translated.