Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
1999 is the year every RPG fan ever dreamed of. Final Fantasy VIII, Lunar Silver Star of Glory, Saga Frontier 2, Shadow Madness, and yes, even Sony got into the mix with Legend of Legaia. Sony eted this game pretty heavily. So now, of course, we have to ask ourselves the age-old question: does it live up to the hype? It's time to find out.
This game is set, like most RPG's, in a world less advanced than our own. You assume the role of... what was his name again? You're given the option to change the character's name, so I changed his name to my own, and I have no idea what it was before. So, let's just call him Seth. Well, anyway, you live in a small village in the southern part of the continent. A dark mist covers the rest of the world. This mist, when it comes in to contact with a sort of living armor called Seru, causes the Seru to become evil and take control of the humans wearing the armor. The only thing protecting your village from the mist is a giant wall constructed long ago to keep out intruders. However, the evil Seru are eventually able to break through the wall and your city is covered with mist and evil Seru. The village elder calls on you to quickly get to the large tree in the center of the town. When you get there, something from within the tree begins talking to you. It turns out that it is a Ra-Seru, a special kind of Seru that is unaffected by the mist. The Ra-Seru joins you and together you are able to revive the large tree, called a Genesis Tree, and the tree makes the mist disappear.
Several elements combine to make Legend of Legaia so much fun to play. The most significant is the way that the story is conveyed in the game. Characters do not speak in drawn out speeches, they simply state information that is useful or not. Rather than listening to every incidental character along the way relate the story of their horrible childhood, you are only forced to read information directly relevant to the members of your party and mission. When important things are said, they are often followed up by a quiz to make sure you were paying attention. If so, you are rewarded; if not, you are reminded.
The control in Legend of Legaia is wonderful. Taking a cue from Xenogears, the combat is programmed by pressing different directions on the control pad or joystick. You try to discover Arts for the characters as you fight monsters. Upon discovering an Art, which are just combinations of up, down, left, right attacks, it is added to a list of moves that you can call up as you are programming the combos during combat. This lends a certain strategic element similar to fighting games that I welcome in an RPG. While giving so much control during combat, Legend of Legaia takes steps to enhance the gaming experience by making repetitive elements quick. It's great to have so much control during large battles, but when roaming around fighting monsters so you can afford that next level of armor, it gets incredibly tedious to put in each strike of each round of each battle. Fortunately, there is an Auto option available so that beating up monsters and stealing their money goes quickly and relatively painlessly.
The graphics in this game are pretty good, and really fit this type of game well. The characters are 3D polygons much like the ones in Final Fantasy VII. The background however, is also polygonal, unlike FFVII's. The battle scenes also look very good, and again I compare it to FFVII. This is just fine, except when you consider that FFVII came out almost two years ago. In general, the graphics are not much of an issue in Legend of Legaia. There are very few FMV sequences, which accounts for the length of the game. The few FMVs that are included are beautifully rendered and impressive. The game is semi-3D, and the game graphics look similar to Xenogears. They are actually not quite as grainy as Xenogears, probably due to the fact that each environment is not fully rendered and you cannot pan around a camera. What really saves Legaia in its graphic presentation is the cinematography and originality.
The Sounds aren't half bad. In correspondence with the Gameplay each punch kick, and magic spell, has a cool effect. The music really kicks in during a battle with the boss characters. This is a nice treat since the regular tracks get old quick.
Sony does a good job at making Legaia a success. Which is a perfect mixture of the old with the new. The Innovative Battle system will allow you to forget the lengthy play. When you think the game is beat you'll be surprised to find out there's more. This is one of the best qualities, that adds to the excellent gameplay. The only gripe is the music gets repetitive, and the bosses are hard as hell.