Well, I just bought Vagrant story a few days ago, and let it be said that even though I was expecting a lot, this game surpassed my wildest dreams. I’ve been following this game very closely, ever since I saw a preview of it in a gaming magazine (I think it was EGM). The graphics looked dull and pixilated in the pictures, but the article itself was a very enthusiastic one, raving on and on about how utterly brilliant this game was. I, being a long time RPG’er, had been waiting for a game like this, a game that stretched the boundaries of what exactly an RPG could be. And since the game was being developed by Square, well, I knew I couldn’t go wrong. I waited and anticipated, consuming together any snippet of information that I could find. The game looked sooo cool! So, it finally came out on May 17th, and I went out and bought it.
Usually when I get excited about a game, I mean really megafrickin excited; I wind up being disappointed (Zelda: Ocarina of Time being a good example of a great game that was ruined for me because I overestimated it). Vagrant Story, however, not only exceeded my expectations, it wound up being a completely different game than I had expected. I thought the game was going to be Metal Gear Solid with an RPG twist, a six-hour romp through a dungeon, but it turned out to be so much more. Contrary to what people will have you believe, Vagrant Story isn’t that short. Is it short for an RPG? Yes. Is it short for an action/adventure game? Absolutely not! Vagrant story surprised me in its length, depth, and replay value. Three things I wasn’t expecting too much of.
When you first start the game, you are introduced to the cast in a set of sequences that adds up to be about fifteen minutes long. That’s one hefty introduction. The first thing I noticed when I started playing was that the graphics were amazing. What seemed drab on the pages in that gaming magazine, was enflamed with motion, color, and even camera tricks! Each of the characters in the game has a very solid composition, and yes, they even move their mouths when they speak (something that bothered me in MGS). Lighting is unbelievable in this game, really. Graphically, this game has no parallel on the Playstation.
Once the intro gets over with, you are introduced to the actual game in a wine cellar. Here you get to get used to the complex battle scheme. And when I say complex, I mean COMPLEX. You literally have to peel away at the layers of options to get a real hold of the battle system. Thankfully, the game gives you a chance to do so, and gives you a very helpful in game manual to answer any questions you might have. Battle is carried out in real time, meaning that there’ll be no annoying load times before a battle. A green globe (Parasite Eve style) pops up, and you can select attacks. It gives you a lot of freedom to move around, and select options, while maintaining a very RPG feel. You can also do combos, which are carried out by pressing a button the second the sword (or whatever you are using) hits your foe. This can be very easy for some, who can carry out several combos at a time, and it can be hard for others, who can hardly pull of one combo. It really doesn’t matter too much how good or bad you are at this, since you can customize your weapons to better fit you booty kicking needs. The whole weapons customization scheme adds lots of depth. The control of the game is well laid out, and once you get used to the “different” controls, they become second nature. You can freely look around any room you’re in to inspect possible passages by pulling back the right analog control. This makes it easier to find your way around, and is also convenient because in this mode, enemies can’t do a thing to you. It’s very clever, and even innovative. I wish more games had a feature like this! Well, it really doesn’t matter how much I say about the battle system and the controls. You just have to experience it yourself to know what it’s like!!!
Like I said before, I wasn’t expecting much length wise and replay wise from this game. But I got it anyway, and I’m glad that I did. Not only is this game lots of fun, it also never gets tedious, something from which most RPG’s suffer. This game has replay up the wazoo, with a Chrono Trigger like new game + sort of thing, where you can explore new areas, and fight some new bosses.
Speaking of bosses, in this game, there’re plenty! Tons! And not only are there plenty, but they’re all very well designed, and move with amazing fluidity. There are Ogres, Dragons, Elementals, Golems, Huge Crabs, among others, and they all feel like they had a lot of care put into constructing them.
The music in this game didn’t impress me much near the beginning. Sure, the sound effects were great and all, but there really wasn’t much in terms of quality sound. The tunes that echoed through the empty dungeon walls were forgettable, and left me yearning more. Thankfully, once you leave the first dungeon, all that changes. The music changes from drab to fab (sorry, couldn’t help myself), with suspenseful tunes that light up whatever action is going on. The music compliments the game well, just as it should. Perfect!
Well, I think I’ve just about covered everything. Gameplay, control, graphics, sound, innovation… WAIT! I almost forgot the most important aspect of any RPG. It that draws you in, and makes you want to go further. The story! Vagrant Story has one of the best stories in any videogames I’ve ever played. At first I thought the game was all visual flare, but it turned out that the story is mysterious, complex, and draws you into the game like no other. The game is packed with memorable (not to mention well designed) characters, an awesome plot, and the best Square translation ever! Sure, there’s the occasional grammatical mistake, but it’s forgivable, since Square did such a great job putting it into OLDE ENGLISH. Really, this is an awesome story, worthy of the highest praise!
Well, now I really have said it all. I hope I’ve persuaded you to go out and buy Vagrant Story, the game of a lifetime. Missing it would be like missing… Well, I can’t think of anything right now, but you darn well better believe it would be like missing something really, really awesome! What, you’re still reading? Go out and buy this game now!