Grandia Xtreme

a game by Enix
Platform: Playstation 2
Rating: 7/10

To some degree, it can be said that if you've played one RPG, you've played them all. Most fall into a few discrete categories, defined by either their most prestigious examples, or the overwhelming popularity of their gameplay styles. Final Fantasy, Fallout, Chrono Trigger. All recognizable, and all with a well known style of play, as well as the thickly detailed story (or at least appearance of one) that has come to stand out among RPGs.

This is a subset of the Grandia universe, detailing the adventures of Evann, a young hero who wants to avoid the draft in his part of the world. Forcibly recruited, Pinkerton style, he's thrown into a unit to discover the secret to The Elemental Disorder.

And that's about it. The game turns into a series of cutscenes interspersed among tremendous amounts of repetitive action style gameplay. Fighting is what you'll be doing for most of the game, and while I can respect that, Grandia has neither the style nor grace of other RPGs, with a visual style that is dated to say the least. Compared to the other Grandia titles, it provides more flexibility, and revitalizes the old combat system. On top of it all, it just isn't that attractive. It doesn't look or feel like a PS2 game. With out a tremendous, stand out plot, it just doesn't have any soul.

Of special note is the voice acting, some of which is provided by Dean Cain, Lisa Loeb, and Mark Hamill. Although Hamill is just as good as always, Cain and Loeb provide stilted, uninspired performances. Frankly, there isn't much here worth playing, as it uses the same gameplay provided by older titles, but doesn't have any of the accompanying improvements or basic plot that'd make a new RPG worth playing. There's a difference between those games I mentioned, and Grandia Xtreme. Those RPGs were good.

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