Monday, April 7, 2008
First impressions of Unlimited Saga
So I've been reading up on this game for quite a while, and despite the negative critisism it got, I decided to try it out for myself. After picking it up yesturday, I can safly say that I'm very, very glad I picked it up. Now for some of you that don't know what I'm talking about, Unlimited Saga came out a few years ago, and was met with heavy critisism, and a lot of returned copies. People thought it was bad, confusing, and tough, and quite frankly I think they were just jumping to conclusions after they read the magazines.
I won't talk about what people thought about the game, instead I'll talk about the gameflow, followed by my opinions on the game, also you may want to skip the first segment of this impression if you already played it. Basicly Unlimited Saga is an RPG, but it isn't of any typical caliber of easy, soap opera RPGs on the market today. Instead it follows in the SaGa caliber, which it's typical features are seven selectable characters, an open ended world, and extream difficulty.
Unlimited Saga continues that tradition of SaGa esque gaming...but does things a bit differently. When you start out, you select your starting character. Each of the seven characters have a seperate goal, different skill sets, and different stories. Although some of these characters do wind up meeting each other, not all of them will wind up together.
Anyways, your introduced to the character, what he or she is doing, and what there goal is. After that, your taken to the starting town, which you can't roam around freely in a 3D enviorment, but instead just select where you want to go, and confirm it, just like a menu. While you won't have any options right away, you can click on them anyway for fun. Most towns will have a carrier guild, which give side missons that involve deliveries, but this is only possable if you have a member of the guild there.
You also have an inn to go to, where you can shop, get information, view equipment, and see what adventures you can go on. There will also be places that not every town has, such as a blacksmith, which repare items or make new ones, or magic guilds...I really don't know what they do yet. Anyways, it's best if you get information first, that way you can see who can join your party, and belive me when I say it's good to have company. If they don't have a misson for you, then go to the adventures section of the inn, select what you want, and your on your way.
Onto the field. On the field, your character is represented by a metal miniature, which moves around a board one at a time. While not moving, you can see your characters stats, equipment, use skills, and even do a quick save and quit, though it get's deleted after you boot it up. The only time to save is when your at an inn. Anyways back to the field, your characters can move one at a time, and how this is done is simply holding either the left or right analog stick in the desired direction.
The directions you can take will be represented by little windows, question marks represent unexplored territory, while titled places are routes you already taken. Each one will also have a color on it, blue is safe, yellow is caution, and red is danger. Go into a yellow one, and monsters might notice you, though you can sometimes slip right past them, while red is unavoidable monster central. Also, you can't run away from a fight, but really, who does that now a days, besides out of bordom?
In some cases, you will have to fight, but don't worry, your not completly weak. Combat in Unlimited Saga is completly different, rather than selecting an option one at a time, you have the option to selecting up to five options of attacks, which range from a one man stand, to a fantastic three showdown, or a hive five attack pattern...those aren't actuall choices mind you.
Anyways, your character can select what weapon attack he can use, and after the five attacks are selected we get onto the battle. If your enemy doesn't start out first, then a reel appears, which is kind of like a roulet wheel you can find at a casino. If your character is just starting out, he will only have one attack variaty, which is green. But if he uses the attack repeatifly, he will sometimes have a new attack to show off, and it does more damage than the green tile attacks.
Although you can't select these new attacks, you can use them by doing the previous attack again, and try to score a different color pallet. You can also do team combos, and this is done by holding an attack. You can have up to five people that can combo it up...but there is a drawback. Sometimes your enemy will interupt your combo, and you just do a normal attack, followed by the enemies attack, at the same time. While it can suck to be interupted, sometimes you have to know when to take the risk.
Attacks take a little bit of health out of you, so it's best to try and balance attacks with different allies, rather than stocking up attacks on one guy...speaking of health, I'll cover the HP and LP system. Your character first soaks up HP when you get hit, as long as you have HP, you have a high chance of protection against LP. If you have no HP left, your enemies will have a better chance to reduce your LP. Once your allies are out of LP, he or she is out for the rest of the adventure...but if your protaganist is out of LP, it's game over.
There's no way to restore LP besides completing a misson, or if your run out of time on some timed quests. So it's best to restore HP, and this is done by either clicking on the left of right analog sticks on the field, or letting a character skip a turn while attacking. You run a risk of running into an enemy when resting, but sometimes they don't attack.
After a quest is complete, your taken to a screen which shows what skill your character can master. Basicly you have seven grids, and some of them will have empty slots in them. You must either replace a current skill you have, or put one in an empty slot. After selecting what characters get what new skill they learned, plus the boost in max HP, you will be prompt to save your game. I should also note that there is no XP gain in this game, so this is theo nly way the characters will ever get stronger.
So that's how some of the gameplay works. Do stuff in town --> Select an adventure or delivery --> explore + battling --> growth grid --> save game --> do stuff over until completed. While it did take me a long time to explain what you could do, heck I left a few things out, that should give you a basic idea on how the game is played.
Now for my opinions on the game. It can be really fun to give the smackdown on weaklings on the field, though when your fighting a boss, you'll require careful planning, plus a really good eye to spot those greater attacks. I wish you didn't have to use a little bit of your HP to use an attack, that way you could have a little chance at defeating the boss. Plus the reel system, while satisfying it may be, can be frustrating at time, especially when it comes boss time. So practice timing is a must.
The voice acting can be pretty horrible at times, especially with Armic's voice. Lastly, it can be frustrating to not run into a blacksmith that can't repair your favorite weapon type...or not being able to have a blacksmith in the first place. But the game is pretty fun, and it's tough but rewarding reel system get's my thumbs up. I'm not bothered with the whole board game feel, heck I love it. When I was a little kid, I always loved using my imagination, and tried to fill in the blanks of two or three frame rate animation.
While I can understand that some people don't like the board game feel, it shouldn't have been heavily critisized. That's just down right stupid to judge a game by not being able to move around a town, or that your character is a metal piece rather than a polygon man. I would rather just point and click on my towns, than try to cover each and every inch of a huge 3D city. Running around can be boring, and talking to NPCs with nothing intresting to say can be a bit of a letdown.
Unlimited Saga is a bit rough, but it isn't discardable like everybody else says. With that being said, I shall bid you farewell, and I will give you a full review this Sunday.
EDIT: Sorry, but I'm going to drop the actuall review for Unlimited Saga for a while. Mainly because this first impression page took almost forever to write.