The third official Grandia leaves its mark on the Playstation 2.
The legendary role-playing development team, GameArts, has created yet another worthy title to satisfy their hungry fans. In Grandia III, you take the role of young Yuki as he decides to take his airplane piloting capabilities to the test in search of his childhood hero, Schmidt, and other adventures that comes with the territory. Along the way, Yuki has trouble slipping away from his mom, gets help from friends old and new, crashes more than a few planes, and encounters quite a bit of resistance on the path to defeating evil. Without shedding too many details, the main story involves twelve guardians that are scattered around the world. They protect people of the lands and provide wisdom through "communicators," and of course one of Yuki's very first party members is, in fact, a communicator. Only a chosen few of each generation are capable of communicating with the guardians. Through your communicator friend, you embark on the ultimate journey to stop the destruction several worlds.
Grandia III is a pretty game to look at. Although GameArts has clearly not pushed the Playstation 2's hardware to the limits, the characters, monsters, and land masses are all well designed, resulting in a game that's not only fun to play, but also to look at. With that in mind, the user-controlled camera is often times a little slow and awkward to navigate, especially if your party is running low on resources and are trying to avoid battles while still opening any treasure chests along the way. With that in mind, the game is completely playable. Remaining on an aesthetic note, the music throughout Yuki's adventure is wonderful. Top notch RPG compositions should keep most gamers from turning on their MP3 players. The game has enough music to last, and you won't spend so much time in a single area that any of the tunes will drive you ballistic.
One of the best parts of the game is how well the battles move along. Each character's move is determined by a speed dial (the IP gauge). When one of your characters' turn comes up, they have the following options to choose from: Attack, Defend, Item, Flee, Critical, Magic, Special, and Orb. The purpose of a critical attack is to cancel the enemy's next move, thus tossing them back on the IP dial, which can also be accomplished through Magic and Specials. All of this is great fun, although things can be a little frustrating when your characters have their moves canceled. This can easily be forgotten, and many gamers will be pleasantly surprised by the number of items obtainable (including bombs, IP feathers, and tons of elixirs). With such a wide variety of options, and an IP gauge to determine when moves are enacted, the gameplay of Grandia III continues a solid tradition of solid and engaging combat throughout the series. If you don't like this game's style of traditional role-playing battles, you probably won't be interested in any RPGs until Kingdom Hearts II is released!
An awesome 40 hours of your life should be detained by Grandia III. The game is at least above average in every category. I will not go so far as to call it a masterpiece, but the game was extremely well designed. From the very first scene all the way through, you'll travel to so many vast and amazing lands, meet numerous charming characters, and even shed a tear on this over-the-top adventure. A great treat for fans of the series, Grandia III will meet most gamers' expectations, and exceed quite a few too. I have no regrets in giving this game a B+ overall rating.