September 28, 2006

Radiata Stories

Radiata Stories takes the world of RPGs to an entirely new level. The one word that really describes the world and people and culture of Radiata is vibrant. It just seems so alive. There are over 200 different characters, each with their own personality, daily schedule, and role to play in the game (small or large). As I learned more and more about each person, I came to know them all fairly well. I knew their names, places they would frequent, and sometimes motivations. The scenery, maps, and architecture are brilliantly realized; this is not a tiled map. I would often admire the scenery as I travelled on roads (yes, roads, like normal people).

From a technical standpoint, this game really delivers. There were several new technologies put in as nice touches which you wouldn't really notice, but help to put polish on the game and also add more life to the world. Some examples of this are the random behavior of street lamp halos, or the POV display of characters during battle, or correct shadow placement, or texture and lighting shaders applied to the screen.

The music is also very good. It's environmental but exciting and always fits the mood. The only thing I wish was that the battle music would be a little more interesting. I found it a little too monotone or repetitive to my liking.

In fact, the only thing that wasn't so great was the combat. There was a little strategy involved, where guarding and moving to a new position could help. And you have to order your teammates to perform certain things in support on some occasions, although the AI is pretty decent regardless. But overall I felt like it was a little on the button-mashing side and once you've picked a decent set of attacks it doesn't matter anymore. You can't really do any special moves and getting new abilities or attack modes requires you to change your party members.

Another thing that's really great about the game is how you can make a real life-altering decision halfway through. It completely changes how you have to view things, having to choose between two mutually exclusive choices. Either choice requires you to make compromises which in an ideal situation you wouldn't have to make. And each side can be considered right and wrong at the same time.

Because the split makes playing through the game a second time worth it, I clocked in about 75 hours total. That sets a new record, beating out Star Ocean by a few hours.

Posted by josuah at September 28, 2006 6:13 AM UTC+00:00

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