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Oct 31, 2008 9:23 AM
Anime Relations: Xenosaga The Animation, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Alright, someone was asking for PS2 recs, so I responded on their forum. Now I'm taking it and much more to the blogs because I have way too much time on my hands

FFXII, which I imagine most people have already played, is my personal favorite FF. Take all of the tried and true turnbased/ATB battle systems and shove 'em, because this has the fastest paced gameplay of any FF. The gambit system is brilliant, and with the right setup, this game can become a piece of cake. Its gorgeous, and one of the best representations of pure power that ever came out of the system. The story is multi-layered, and can sometimes be difficult to understand (but that's what wiki's for). The Hunts are fun, although some of them can be annoying without a good strategy guide. People complain that the license board is too much and that having to buy your magick is annoying, but really it's not that bad and helps to pace out the game.

Odin Sphere was one of the last PS2 games I bought and also one of my favorite RPGs of all time. The writing, v/os, music, and graphics are all beautiful and despite its almost kiddie visuals, the story is complex and very mature. You play through the last 3 months of existence, leading up to the end of the world, as 5 different characters. I do advise you to read up on the proper sequence of beating the last boss, because its quite a doozy and will become very frustrating if you have to repeat it...

Okami is as everyone says the Zelda of the PS2, but its so much more than that. Take all the Japanese culture and religion/mythology/folklore you can imagine, and shove it into one watercolor graphics game, give it some of the most original gameplay and monsters, and you've basically got Okami. You start off as the Sun Goddess Amaterasu being stuck in the body of a wolf guardian, and basically follow the Zelda formula (silent main character, helping out villagers, digging for treasures). The side quests, weapons collecting, and minigames are extremely fun, and I imagine if you pick this up you will have a hard time putting it back down. It didn't get PS2 Game of the Year from basically every game reviewing site/magazine for no reason.

Dark Cloud (2, preferably) is one of the best RPGs from one of the most talented developers, Level 5 (these are also the people responsible for Rogue Galaxy). Its gameplay is easy to learn, hard to master. Basically a dungeon crawler, it's strength isn't so much in the story department, but in the fact that almost everything about the game from the towns to the weapons are entirely customizable. What you can think up, you can make, and while the possibilities aren't exactly endless, it's still a far cry from what you can do in other games.

Rogue Galaxy's story is crap, but if you play it at all it won't be for that. It'll be for the addictive gameplay, FFXII inspired hunts, and for the weapon's fusion. The way you play is similar to Kingdom Hearts and FFXII, seeing as in addition to your main character (who you can choose, depending on who you have in your party [I recommend Jaster, Lilika or Zergram at all times]), you have two other party members who control themselves, healing and fighting as necessary. With the press of one of the trigger buttons, you can have them preform special moves or moves critical to your survival (it's a much better system than KH's dropdown menu). Also, instead of having to wait until the random battles are over (and for those who hate random battles, these can take less than 2 seconds with the proper special moves), you can access the menu at any time. The worlds are HUGE, probably the biggest and most impressive ever seen on the PS2, and once you land on a world, you will never see a load screen.

Xenosaga is a writers paradise (or at least the first one was). While the original one has an amazing story, beautiful music, and excellent characters (including one of the most memorable and downright nasty villains I've ever seen), I'll the the first to admit that the sequels don't quite amount to the awesomeness of the first entry. The 2nd improves in the gameplay department, but the v/os are a major downgrade from the first game, and some of the music is downright annoying. The 3rd is the best for gameplay, helps to bring some closure, but certain things (like replacing what could have been very impacting cutscenes with text boxes) keep it from greatness. The graphics are beautiful, though, and some of the real cutscenes will leave you in awe (insert Kos-Mos/Telos fight here).

Radiata Stories is one of the best buys out there. Honestly, with all there is to do in this game, whether its collecting characters, completing side quests, or just stalking people in what seems like a living breathing world is so enjoyable its hard to put into words. Besides that, the most important addition to gameplay in this is the fact that you can kick things to get into battles or obtain items from random objects. Kick everything, talk to everyone, and DON'T just run through the story because you will be missing out on all of the extra stuff, including some secret characters (Lenneth from Valkyrie Profile, anyone?!), outfits, weapons, etc.

I'll probably add more later, but this is a pretty decent start for anyone wanting to get the best of the last couple years and more proof that not every good RPG has to come from Square Enix...
Posted by MotokoAramaki | Oct 31, 2008 9:23 AM | Add a comment