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TRAITS (member-attributed "LIKES")
THE SETTING #USES
PLAYING AS #USES
PLAYING AGAINST #USES
HOW IT'S PLAYED #USES
GENERAL TONE #USES
Once a bustling city housing over 5,000 people, a series of disastrous quakes separated the city of Leá Monde from the living world. Now accessible only though gnarled catacombs that run from the city to the shore, it's a foreboding place where it's rumored the dead don't quite die.
It's in this cheerful setting that we find ourselves accompanying Ashley Riot as he pursues the enigmatic but charismatic leader of the Müllenkamp cult into the doomed city. Vagrant Story takes the player though the catacombs and into the city of Leá Monde all to answer the question of what happened to everyone's favorite Risk Breaker during the week he vanished into the town.
Vagrant Story isn't like your typical Square offering however. While posing a complex storyline, they're adapted an almost action based format for the journey. You'll have to jump precise jumps, solve block puzzles and navigate mazes all by yourself in a fashion strongly reminiscent of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. On the flip side, Square's fused a menu driven battle interface with a reflex driven combo and defense for a new approach to your basic role playing combat. The combo system employs a new wrinkle. The more successive strikes you manage to connect with, the more often you successfully defend, the higher your Risk points will go. The higher your risk, the more ragged your defense. You'll also miss more frequently although your chances of making a critical hit increase. Think of it as a fatigue and stress level all rolled into one. In all, it makes for a mix that incorporates multiple game styles while remaining aloof from them all at the same time.
Expect to spend a lot of time alone with Ashley's thoughts as you progress in the game. This is essentially a dungeon crawling game complete with statistically intensive weapon and armor management, You'll build up weapons, combine them with others to create new or stronger ones, and spend a lot of time juggling our equipment while you pursue the storyline further. You'll have to take the type of monster you're killing into consideration, their elemental affinities and plan for any of their attacks.
Vagrant Story breaks from Final Fantasy in another way aside from the game mechanics. There is almost no full motion video in the game. Instead, Square relies on real-time cut scenes to further the story in the game. There aren't any prerendered backdrops of sprites kicking about either. Everything's in rendered in real-time using the PlayStation's polygon pushing power to give the game its looks.
The character designs have a more realistically proportioned and serious mien about them as in Final Fantasy VIII. Square fans may notice some artistic similarities to Xenogears in the character designs and backgrounds.
Square fans will take note, others may as well once they see Vagrant Story on the shelves. Square's not giving this title the bum's rush after all. While the title may seem like an odd HBO special or hint at a story set in the late 1930's in the mean streets of Chicago, some roustabouts have all the luck. ~ Joe Ottoson, All Game Guide