Grandia 3

Game Arts - Tested on the PlayStation 2 in 2006


Grandia games were originally designed to be games for Sega consoles. But Sega has withdrawn from the gaming console market and for almost seven years now, Grandia fans can enjoy these RPGs on the PlayStation consoles. Grandia 1 was a decent port of the Saturn version, Grandia 2 a horrible port of the Sega Dreamcast console. After the spinoff Xtreme, Grandia III is the first "normal" Grandia to be released exclusively on the PlayStation 2.

Sadly enough, this last "normal" Grandia will most probably be the last offline-RPG by Game Arts for some time. Shortly after the release of Grandia III in Japan, Gung Ho, a online game develober bought Game Arts. Ever since then, Game Arts is working on Grandia Online. A spokesman of Game Arts replied to the question concerning further offline games that they "think of something in the next generation". For me, this is a relatively clear "no".

Well, let's get back to the game. Grandia III has been supported by Square Enix, something that's surely to be noticed within the game. Grandia and Grandia II - although they were quite beautiful - both suffered from some technical drawbacks. Grandia suffered from a horrible framerate and Grandia II was a stylistic mixture. Some of the scenes have been made using CG graphics, others were drawn or completely in ingame graphics.This all ends with Grandia III. Most of the cinematic sequences are shown with the ingame engine, and only rarely you'll find "real" CGs. They resemble the ingame engine a lot on top of that. The graphics of the game are just stunning, with lots of details, facial expressions and beautiful scenes. I don't think you could get any more out of the old PS2. Sometimes, the developers had to reduce the level of details at some scenes - it seems that they really reached the maximum of what the console can handle. Nonetheless, no matter how much details they switch off, the game remains beautiful.

Well, let's get back to the game. Grandia III has been supported by Square Enix, something that's surely to be noticed within the game. Grandia and Grandia II - although they were quite beautiful - both suffered from some technical drawbacks. Grandia suffered from a horrible framerate and Grandia II was a stylistic mixture. Some of the scenes have been made using CG graphics, others were drawn or completely in ingame graphics.This all ends with Grandia III. Most of the cinematic sequences are shown with the ingame engine, and only rarely you'll find "real" CGs. They resemble the ingame engine a lot on top of that. The graphics of the game are just stunning, with lots of details, facial expressions and beautiful scenes. I don't think you could get any more out of the old PS2. Sometimes, the developers had to reduce the level of details at some scenes - it seems that they really reached the maximum of what the console can handle. Nonetheless, no matter how much details they switch off, the game remains beautiful.

Aside of story and presentation, the combat system is a very important point of J-RPGs - that shoudln't be too surprising since you have to fight a lot in these games. As in the previous installments, this is one of Grandia's best aspects. You don't just have to beat the hell out of your enemies, you actually have to manage them. The combat system was already used in the predecessors, but it's been even more refined in Grandia III - both enemies and party members are lined on a circle on the upper-left part of the screen (check the image to the left). When any character reaches "com", you can input a command. Depending on the power of the move selected, there is more or less time required to reache the "act" point where the command is going to be executed. Funny thing about this, you can stop enemies from executing commands if they're on their way from "com" to "act" (this is called a "cancel") - the same can happen to you as well, so this is where strategy comes into the game. The stronger the attack, the longer it takes to be executed, but the easier the enemies can cancel the execution. If you're too careless about your strategy, even weak monsters can take you out in no time. On the other hand, you can easily accomplish a "excellent" victory (none of your party members lost HP during the fight) with the right strategy. Many RPG fans call this battle system the "pride of round-based creation".

The soundtrack has been created by Noriyuki Iwadare again. It's quite strange, but it seems he can't keep up with his former compositions. There are lots of mediocre tunes in the game; especially some of the battle tunes lack beat, melody and atmosphere. Well, at least his soundtrack is not as diluted as the OST of Radiata Stories, so it seems his quality is going upward again. But to be honest, I would've loved it if his compositions this time were as good as his works he did for Lunar Silver Star, Eternal Blue, Grandia or Grandia 2.

Now let's cover a side aspect of the game. There is no extra overworld screen if you're roaming the land on your own feet. If you have to bridge a bigger gap, however, you can use a plane later in the game to fly around freely (sadly there's nothing to discover by plane).

Rating

Pro Contra
·Graphics and sound
·Miranda
·Battle system
·Simple story
·Lots of cliche
·Soundtrack dissappoiting

72%

veryone who likes RPGs should like Grandia III as well. The balance of funny gameplay, intelligent (yet not too innovative) story and an astonishing audiovisual experience is pretty good and worth a try. But to be honest, among the Grandia trilogy, this game only reaches the third place (now who understood this cheap joke?).

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