Having played Grandia II for the Dreamcast (and later for the PS2) and LOVING it, I've followed the Grandia series for some time (and by that I mean, for the two other games and attempted to get into the Grandia Online beta test), I've recently picked up Grandia Xtreme (having HATED Grandia III) only to find it completely half-assed and absolutely horrible. Let's make a quick comparison.
Storyline = Not too bad, a bit generic but thought out and works very well later on. First thing I noticed was that Ryudo (the main character) starts at lvl 10 while the Elena, the priestesss that Ryudo escorts, starts at 1. It was interesting as it actually fit the storyline. Ryudo was actually more experienced starting off as that was his job.
Gameplay = Being part of the Grandia series, the battles were the coolest system ever. Screw ATB
Characters = Also a bit generic, but after you know them, they get really interesting.
Voice Acting = Surprising. Some parts were sketchy, but the voice acting was actually good.
Graphics = Sketchy. It's not BAD persay, but it's not that great.
Storyline = So close to II that it kinda made me die a bit inside. It was as if Game Arts had a meeting and said, okay... what if Ryudo went down a different path when he grew up?
Gameplay = Apparently something was supposed to be cleaned up. I don't see it. Team attacks are actually more of a nuisance than an addition. It's useful to have a high damage move but it's also troublesome to use two characters when I need to have all four to manipulate the monsters as well as possible. Most noticeable thing was that the IP gauge went from horizontal bar to circle which was then implemented in Grandia III. If anything, I think the skills actually look WORSE than they did in Grandia II. I'm comparing the skills and all my favorite early on skills look nerfed. All my favorite "super" skills look meh. At least the cinematic cut scenes in Grandia II looked really really cool.
Characters = I saw this coming. The handful of characters are "Meh." All of them look like they were ripped from ethnic stereotypes and slapped on. Theres this one character that looks aged, wears lots of fur and speaks in an obscenely archaic tone regarding nature... While some other girl from the same tribe speaks perfectly normally but is [supposed] to be really jumpy and hyperactive. I'll get to that supposed to thing later.
Voice Acting = I'll get to that later.
Graphics = Improved. Looks definitely cleaner.
What makes this game really bad?
The story, voice acting, and general progression of the game.
The storyline is so shallow that it's hard NOT to see what happens next. An "evil" looking soldier sends Evann (not a typo) on a bunch of quests for "world peace" with a handful of other people from different tribes. Evann doesn't trust him since the guy has been an "evil" person since childhood. But Evann's commanding officer (that Evann at some point comes to good terms with even though he only talks to her when receiving an assignment that he accepts despite being brought there against his will...) goes on to be that naive attitude believing that he really is for peace. 'Lo and behold! He betrays the army for his own personal gain to summon the greatest being ever... Sound familiar? Perhaps like EVERY OTHER GAME in existence? Probably because it is. All the plottwists are typical and there's really nothing unique about it.
Now for the Voice Acting.... Dear god. They're all atrocious. Yes, EVERY one of them are so bad I've actually stopped playing this game. First, let me just note that all these voice actors are following the text. By that, I'm not referring to what the lines say (though, the script is just as bad) but the pauses are so awkward and the actors pause when the text does (it's not lag, it's actually like that). The emphasis on words are awkwardly misplaced that I want to punch each of them in the face and the tones many many times are so flat they make TV screens look rugged. Please, continue to just read off the card for the first time and record. It sounds AMAZING... When you play the game, you then get a different impression of the characters when they're not voiced and when they are which makes you wonder if they all suffer from bi-polar disorders. Either that or they're all offspring of William Shatner... They can't even sound angry. There was this one part where an officer says "Shut up!" in a very firm tone that sounded decent but then went on a monologue that shattered all my hopes of believing there was potential in this game.
Myam, that hyperactive girl I mentioned earlier, is one of my favorite characters text wise since she seems to have the most character but when she speaks... She sounds bored and sometimes unnecessarily serious. There's this one skill where she's really jumpy and and fires an arrow into the air only because she leans back too far and falls backward. What does the voice actor do? She makes her sound intent on firing an arrow and being diligent, which Myam isn't. To me, she's a dizzy character that makes her personality childish, but amusing as her looks and faces match it. Too bad her voice actor thinks she's indifferent and aloof.
Another character Vitto is supposed to be the youngest of the group and generally doesn't speak much. He has an annoying childish character about him (which I generally don't mind, though whiny ones still bother me, so it irritates me a bit?) that is represented well in text, horribly done in voice. You can clearly tell the voice actor spent no effort on this. Tones were supposed to be different but since the volume was still at much more reserved level than the others any yelling came out as an exaggerated statement, and it was OBVIOUS that some 40 year old was voicing this guy. My eye began to involuntarily twitch as a child-like character with child-like appearance had a voice that sounded older than the main character.
There's another character which is the villain's sidekick (some nerdy scientist) that sounds so airy, nasally, and inexperienced, I felt like throwing something at the TV each time he had to speak. Every voice I heard was more than just a groan, it was a downright "Ok, mute this mother..." I'm not exaggerating either. I've stood by some bad stuff before (I beat all of Grandia III, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Tales of the World) but this was intolerable.
It's not like I dropped this game after four minutes of playing. I got through about half of the game before finally deciding to burn it. I had hoped that if I just went passed the first leg and plot twist (Oh my god! This WASN'T for world peace?!) it would hopefully get better. Too bad I was disappointed. There was just more of "groan, how typical." The only thing that kept me playing Grandia III was how amazing every spell looked and how clean the graphics were. Oh, and how awesome the battle system was. Yes, that's actually what kept me playing that.
I don't care if you're a Grandia fan. Don't get this game. It's SOO bad. Even renting it isn't worth your time. Just be glad that someone else wasted the time to play it for you. Really.
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