I completed Radiata Stories last night, and there are a couple things that seem to be a recurring theme for me:
1 – The PS2 games I’m playing all seem to firmly set themselves in the 7 range
2 – The RPGs I’m playing seem to not be too concerned with gameplay
Radiata Stories is very comparable to Suikoden in many ways. The presentation is excellent, the gameplay is secondary, there are lots of allies to recruit, and the ending(s) suck. The ending is a shame, really, due to a truly classic execution of script and character that manages to make the game genuinely funny.
But that’s not what I need to talk about, no no. I’m here to tell you about arguably–no, inarguably–the worst dungeon ever conceived in an RPG. I haven’t played every RPG, but I don’t care, this is worse.
The final dungeon is in the City of White Nights, and the only explanation for it is that they deliberately sought out to infuriate every single player. The dungeon is comprised of climbing up long random ladders that may or may not crumble and make you fall down several stories. There are many dead-ends for no reason, and sand that falls from the sky and knocks you down several stories. In order to avoid the sands, you have to walk. That’s right, if you move at more than a walking speed, you have no reaction time. I’m just surprised they didn’t throw in a time limit and respawning enemies to complete the collection of suck.
How it’s capped off, though, is how the game begins: With an overly long, incredibly repetitive battle. In Radiata Stories, there is a real-time battle system where you run around in 3D and hack at things. When you do this, the enemy may or may not flinch, if it does, you can chop it to death. If it doesn’t, you have to be more careful.
The result, though, of an enemy not flinching is a pattern: Dodge, stab, dodge stab, repeat while running circles around the enemy. You can do this for the final boss and not take a single hit. Note that the boss has 18,000HP, each of my hits takes 50HP (can hit twice per dodge, repeat every 3-5 seconds), and his life regenerates 10HP every 2 seconds. If we do the math, that’s 80 damage every 4 seconds, 1200 per minute, and results in a 15 minute battle of non-stop repetetive hacking.
It’s about 25 hours, so it definitely could have used an extension to fill out the story, and get someone to say how completely awful pretty much everything about the ending was.
Oh, and the game blatantly stole the “you’re still you” thing from Tales of Symphonia.
Next up in my stack of games for the year is Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii.