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Developer:
Level-5
Publisher: SCEA
Platform: PS2
Release Date: January 30, 2007

by Jason Ferguson




With a lot of hype surrounding the next generation consoles, it seems like many gamers are ready to shelve their PS2. However, the recent release of Rogue Galaxy proves that the PS2 is still the console king of the RPG genre. So don’t put your PS2 away just yet… Sony has at least one last RPG hit for us to play.


Rogue Galaxy follows the tale of Jaster, a young man who dreams of exploring the galaxy. Ever since he was a child, Jaster has been fascinated with space, and has yearned to escape from his tiny home planet and see all that the galaxy has to offer. Unfortunately, a large-scale war is at hand, and Jaster’s planet is currently being occupied. The citizens of the planet are constantly being monitored and are left with little personal freedom. Even worse, space travel from the planet is restricted.


One day, a giant beast manages to break into Jaster’s home town, and Jaster rushes off to face it. A mysterious hooded man joins him, and the two fight their way through armies of monsters. After a few battles, the hooded man disappears, but leaves Jaster with his powerful sword. Little did Jaster know that the hooded man was none other than the Desert Fox, a legendary bounty hunter.


After Jaster manages to defeat the large beast, two space pirates approach him with an offer to join their crew. Recognizing the sword of the Desert Fox, the Pirates mistake Jaster for the infamous bounty hunter, and are eager to have him among their crew. Jaster knows they’ve made a mistake, but can’t help but be tempted by their offer. By joining the space pirates, Jaster would finally have the chance to leave behind his homeworld, and see MUCH more of the universe. Reluctantly, Jaster agrees.


The game manages to start out pretty quick, so don’t expect a slow beginning, as in many RPGs. The story takes off from there, as you find Jaster engulfed in an epic adventure that will span the galaxy!!! The story in the game is solid, and will keep RPG fans entertained for hours. After loading a saved game, you’ll get a brief reminder of the game’s recent events. This is a great addition, because in a lengthy RPG, it’s hard to remember all of the little details.


While the characters in Rogue Galaxy aren’t exactly going to find a special place in your heart, they’re all very likeable, and the game features a rather varied cast. The character designs and the voice work are very well done, which helps to bring these characters to life. However, none of the characters were ever really able to make an emotional impact on me. For the record, my personal favorite is Zegram.


One of my favorite features of combat is that your party members will “talk” to you, giving you hints on things to do. If you like the sound of what they’re telling you, you can execute the suggested action with a simple hit of a button. If you don’t like what they’re saying, then just ignore them. It works out very well, because when your party members are growing close to death, they’ll let you know so that they can be healed before you find yourself fighting alone.


During combat you can switch between characters with ease, in order to take advantage of their unique abilities and weapons. The fighting style of your party is customizable, so if you don’t like the way they’re fighting, you can modify it to your liking. Your options include having your party step back, attack separate targets, or all attack the same target. You can even have them go all out, which means they will use items and abilities without having to be told to.


Each character features Action Points (AP), which are used up in order to complete any action. If you use up all of your AP, you can’t do anything, and need to wait until it refills before you try to attack, use an ability, or use an item. This can become a bit frustrating, but it also adds extra strategy to each fight. You need to be smart and hold off on attacking at times. Hacking and slashing away might do good damage, but it’ll also eat your AP away in no time! Think combat through and use the best options you have. You don’t want to find yourself without any AP and unable to heal or you could be in big trouble! A successful block will refill your AP, so you’re never TOTALLY AP-less.


By holding the attack button, you can charge up an attack. Many enemies have a different strategy required to defeat them, such as charging an attack to break through a shield, or jumping on top of them to weaken them first. You can also pick up foes and throw them to do damage. Aside from the enemy, there are also objects such as rocks that litter the battlefield. These can be picked up and used as a weapon against your enemy. One of your most powerful abilities in your arsenal is called burning strike. Once you collect a burning strike scroll, you unlock the ability to perform this move. When performing a burning strike, different buttons will flash on your screen. To properly execute this move, you have to press these buttons at just the right time. For each button you hit correctly, you will perform an attack, so the more you get right in a row, the longer your combo. As you progress, you’ll also discover higher level burning strike scrolls, which allow for more damage.


Overall, combat is somewhat similar to what many RPG lovers have seen in the Tales series of RPGs. It's action-packed, real-time, and very fast-paced! It’s true that beating on enemies may become tedious after a while, especially in the longer dungeons where you’re thrust into battle after battle. However, the amount of depth in the combat, including subweapons, special abilities, and switching between party members, helps to keep things exciting.


Save points in Rogue Galaxy are multipurpose, so I advise you to seek them out. Not only do you use them to save progress, you can also use them to teleport back to previous save points. Save points can even be used to store items, much like a treasure chest. Last but not least, save points will restore your HP to full, which is the perfect way to rejuvenate the weary adventurer.


You learn abilities through the Revelation flow, which is a grid of connected squares sort of like the sphere grid in Final Fantasy X. Every square has a space for you to slot a specific item within it, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open during your adventure for important items. Each group of squares coincides with an ability, and once you’ve placed all of the necessary items within a group of squares, you learn that ability and unlock all of the squares connected to it. Some abilities require you to only slot one item, but others might have 3 or 4 squares required to fill. As you progress through the sphere grid, you’ll unlock more and more squares, and learn new abilities. This was an easy system to catch on to, and one that encourages exploration in order to find key items.


While Rogue Galaxy offers a fair amount of depth in the gameplay, it’s still an easy game to learn, with straightforward controls. By pressing triangle during combat, you will reveal a menu that allows you to switch characters, use abilities and items. Your main attack is done with X, and your range attack can be performed by pressing square. Blocking is done with R1, and jumping is done by pressing circle. It’s easy to catch on to, and anyone familiar with action/RPGs will have it down in no time!


Rogue Galaxy features a great artistic style with bright colors and a lot of detail. The game features cel-shaded graphics, which has become a signature of Level-5 games, including Dragon Quest VIII and Dark Cloud II. Even with such beautiful graphics, Rogue Galaxy manages to allow gamers to explore the world with no load times! As you progress through your adventure, you never have to worry about waiting for the game to load. Even the transition from exploration to combat is done seamlessly. The camera is fully rotatable, allowing gamers a full look at the game’s vibrant world. Still, even with the rotatable camera, combat can be a little bit unorganized as you struggle to find the enemies running around.


There is a handy mini-map and compass to help you figure out where you’re going. You can also zoom in on your map, and a star pinpoints where you need to go. This will keep gamers from getting lost and growing bored while wandering around in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the maps in Rouge Galaxy are pretty large, and there are lots of hidden items, so there's still plenty of opportunity for exploration.


Much like Dark Cloud II, Rogue Galaxy is filled with side quests and mini-games. Occasionally, you'll come across battles where you’re presented with a challenge. A challenge might be to defeat all enemies without taking any damage. Another might be to defeat the enemies in a limited amount of time. If you complete this challenge, you will be rewarded with Hunter Coins that are used to buy special licenses that allow you to purchase discounted and rare items.


Throughout your journey, you can also collect insectors, which you can do battle with in the insectron arena to win great prizes. The type of bait you use and where you set your trap will influence what kind of insectors you capture (if any), so you’ll have to do some thinking and hunting. Once you capture an insector, you can feed them to make them grow stronger, and breed them in order to get the ideal insector.


Props to Sony for continuing to support PS2 games even after the PS3 launch. With titles like Rogue Galaxy and the upcoming God of War II, gamers still have plenty of reasons to keep their PS2s out!


My experience with Rouge Galaxy has been a highly enjoyable one, and I feel this is a game that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss out on. If you’re looking to start 2007 off with a new RPG, then Rogue Galaxy is a great choice!


Final Grade: 87%




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