If you've ever played Dark Chronicle or Dark Cloud for the PS2, you'll know that level 5's games aren't exactly your typical J-RPGs. The Dark Cloud series bought many innovating ideas like the Geroma system, weapon synthesis (dumping out the old EXP system), and fishing mini games. I picked up this game expecting the creators to continue the Dark Cloud legacy with reused ideas, childish but lovable characters, and a familiar experience. But Rogue Galaxy turned out to be much much more than just that.
Story 8/10 Rogue Galaxy is a story about space pirates. The main character, Jaster Rogue lives on a run down planet controlled by an evil empire. His only dream is to explore space. Coincidently, he is mistaken for a legendary space hunter and taken aboard the Dorgenark, a pirate ship, and travels around the galaxy.
The story itself is nothing spectacular, it is filled with mostly cliched plot devices, and the plot holes will most likely annoy you towards the end. But the game's excellent cast of characters are so enjoyable to watch that you forget most of your dissatisfaction. The game never takes itself too seriously, and there are many genuine humorous scenes among all the action, giving a light hearted tone throughout the game. Like many RPGs though, the beginning may be very tedious to get through. After the first five hours, the story WILL pick up and although cliched, it has just enough surprises to keep you entertained.
One word: Addictive. There are so many good points about the battle system I don't know where to start. The developers took all the innovative ideas of the Dark Cloud series and seriously improved them to make a seriously addictive action RPG.
The party consists of three members, and each member holds a weapon and subweapon. The battles are active, and apart from the normal attack, each party member has a variety of skills and magic they can use. It all sounds pretty typical of an action RPG so far. But what makes this game special is the amount of control you have on each character's growth. Weapon synthesis helps you make hundreds of unique weapons for each character. There's also a revlation grid to monitor their skills and attributes and special attacks. You place items on it to advance your character's development. Finally, the factory system allows you to make rare items.
In battle, you have full control over your leading character and two other characters. In other action RPGs, you often have no control or difficulty controlling the side characters. In Rogue Galaxy however, giving commands to other characters is made easy; because they suggest actions to you in battle. While you're fighting, you will be prompted by the AI characters to use a certain item or skill, and you can deny or accept their suggestion to let them perform the attack. This is especially useful because you have full control over their special actions so it's easier to keep track of your items or AP.
A description of the gameplay like this really doesn't do the game much justice. You have to play to experience just how smoothly how each battle runs.
Music/ Sound 10/10
Alot of talented voice actors were recruited for this game: Steve Blum (Vincent from FFVII, Spike from Cowboy Bebop), Will Fredie (from Boy Meets World), Kari Wahlgren (from FLCL, Lucky Star, Samurai Champloo and many other anime) and Quinton Flynn (best known for Raiden from the MGS series). Not only is RG one of the best voice acted game I've heard in the past few years, it also has the best soundtrack I've heard since the old PS1 RPG classics. Each track fits each world and each situation perfectly.
The creators really pushed the limits of the PS2 on this project. With a massively detailed world that can rival Final Fantasy XII, all the environments are detailed and varied. You travel from massive technological advanced cities to a lush jungles and scorching deserts. Each environment looks crisp, the lighting looks wonderful. Normally I'm not too fond of cell shaded graphics, but the game used the cell shading brilliantly; using it to give the game a rich, vibrant attractive look.
There are a few mini games and hunts that can be completed within the game. I guess you may want to replay the game just to synthesize all the weapon possiblities or to get every item. There were plenty of things to do in the game, but my problem was that it wasn't necessary to do those tasks and upon completion, the game gives you little reward.
Length? Around 40 hours for a normal playthrough, 60+ if you want to complete everything.
The good: Detailed and amazing graphics Awesome soundtrack Innovative battle system Interesting characters Side quests are varied and can keep you entertained Great voice acting
The not-so-good: Plot holes, cliched plot Takes a while to get used to the battle system Little motivation to complete side quests
Final Score: 9/10
If you like RPGs or adventure games at all, I recommend this game. Level 5 is an amazing company and you'll be in for a treat if this is your first L5 game. Have fun. :)