Anyway, I finally bought it recently on the PSN and started to play it. I got about 10 hours in before I decided that, on the whole, I didn't like and wasn't interested in continuing to play it when I have so many other games waiting to be played. This is a shame because there was so much too like, and much more that should have been so much better.
The story starts off pretty basic and almost cliched, starts to become pretty interesting, but then overstays its welcome. After an animated cut scene that would be a non sequitar if it wasn't the first you see, the story follows a man named Fei. He has amnesia, but has lived in a quiet village for a few years under the care of the mayor. Every seems pretty friendly in the village and treats Fei well. Its a good life, but, alas, the village is attacked by a squad of
At this point, I was digging the story. It had a nice twist on the "farm boy from backwater village" trope. I wasn't necessarily digging the amnesia thing and it got a little over dramatic at times, but I was interested. Soon, however, Fei is, for some inexplicable reason, dragged into a three way (maybe more?) conflict. He whined for a bit about how he didn't want to fight (not like he's really involved anyway), but then is convinced to... because? The story wasn't really gripping me. Fei stopped being interesting. The other characters never were interesting. I'd have been able to tolerate it, though, except the game is very wordy. I would grasp the concept the game was trying to present , but the cutscene would run on and on beating whatever point it was trying to make into my head. I just keep hitting X so that it would finally get to a bit of gameplay. This was made worse by the dialogue just generally being poorly written and/or translated. None of the writing felt natural. It wasn't funny. It wasn't interesting. It was clunky.
It might have picked up later, but I stopped caring enough to want to keep pushing through it.
The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag. The character sprites are legitimately good looking. They're primitive, obviously, but they've aged a lot better than Final Fantasy VII's polygon blocks. The characters basically look like chibi anime characters. They're well animated and colorful. Very nice to look at.
There was also a lot of artistry attempted in the cutscenes and environments. There was a scene in a cathedral that particularly grabbed my attention. They tried to some interesting things with lighting and camera angles considering the age of the game. I'm sure it was very impressive at the time of release. Now, however, the environments look muddy and blocky. Not horrible, but definitely aged.
The music is fine. I'm not generally musically inclined, so these things don't generally jump out at me. There was no particular tune I can remember that stood out, but nothing offended me either.
The good: battles are interesting. You can fight outside of Gears and inside Gears. Outside, characters used a combo system similar to a turn based fighting game. You get so many actions per attack and you can combine buttons presses to deliver devastating combos. Gear battles are similar, but you also have to keep in mind your fuel level. Stronger attacks take more fuel, but you also can't just whittle an enemy down since you can't just magically heal your machine.
It was interesting and fun. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to experience much of it. Gameplay. even at the early stages of the game, is generally overshadowed by the poorly told story. The final straw for me was when I settled down to play for a bit, and spent an hour waiting for a true bit of game. No, it wasn't all "cutscenes," but the gameplay bits in between the overlong conversations was simply walking between those overlong conversations. There wasn't really anything to explore, either. Even new shops had the same stuff as before and there were no mini-games are sidequests to complete (at this point in the game). the only other options besides laboring through the plodding story was talking to random NPCs who had nothing interesting to say.
There were some mechanical issues as well. The game forces some platforming on you, which is horrible. The jumping mechanics are poor and imprecise. There's also a "glitch" that prevents you from jumping sometimes. If a random battle is loading, then you can't jump, but you can still move for the couple of seconds it takes to load. You could avoid falling and having to start over on the original PSX by listening for the CD to spin and not jumping during that time, but the PSN doesn't have this "convenience." The camera is also a pain to work with.
Not my favorite. The story just couldn't keep my interest and since it seemed to be mostly story (especially later on in the game, or so I've heard) there wasn't much of anything to keep my interest. Maybe I'll go back to it someday to finish it, but I'm not looking forward to it. -