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Rogue Galaxy [PS2]

1 rating: 4.0
The 2007 PS2 Action Role-Playing video game

Rogue Galaxy is a science fiction console role-playing game developed by Level-5 and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The game was first released in Japan on December 8, 2005, and later in North America on January 30, 2007. … see full wiki

Tags: Video Games, Ps2
Console: PS2
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: January 30, 2007
1 review about Rogue Galaxy [PS2]

Deep Enriching Gameplay Makes Up for the Shortcomings in Story

  • Aug 2, 2009
In 2007 the Playstation 2 was just about dead.  And with so many JRPGs already on the system itself, did it have room for more?  Certainly yes, but with so many JRPGs this also means that they've got to be good.  You can usually look at PS2 RPGs and say "Yep" or "Nope" and be done.  After all, there are too many good RPGs to spend time with the bad ones.  Rogue Galaxy is one of the "Yeps," but that doesn't mean it doesn't have small little problems that surface from time to time.  For the most part Rogue Galaxy is strong.  

Rogue Galaxy centers on Jaster Rogue.  He's a poor boy (bet you didn't see THAT one coming) on the planet of Rosa and dreams of one day going into space.  When Rosa is suddenly attacked Jaster runs into a man who gives him a sword.  After that he then runs into two robots who mistake him for a man named Desert Claw... one of the greatest bounty hunters in the Galaxy.  This gives Jaster a chance to explore the galaxy just like he always wanted.  Could this actually be his destiny?  Over his travels Jaster will meet a cast of eccentric characters. 

As you might expect, Rogue Galaxy isn't really much for story.  It relies quite heavily on overdone formulaic themes.  They're safe themes, mainly.  Such as fate and destiny, our main character not knowing his real parents and receiving a call to adventure.  Most times even formulaic cliches aren't so bad, but in Rogue Galaxy the story just isn't interesting enough.  For one thing it paces very slowly.  It takes a moment to get from one story moment to another.  That's not to say there isn't a lot of story.  It's to say that the dungeons are HUGE.  Even when you're getting story, though, much of it is pretty flat.  Often it concerns your characters taking a long time to uncover certain things or takes them forever to explain what it is they've discovered.  You'll figure out plenty of things before your main characters do.  Rogue Galaxy also isn't helped by the fact that it's characters just aren't that memorable.  In fact, they all fit into their own cliches that you've probably seen thousands of times.

But this is Level 5 developing here. Level 5 is hardly one to focus on story.  They specialize quite heavily in gameplay, though, and it's the Gameplay that happens to be Rogue Galaxy's saving grace.  The story may be forgettable but you'll find yourself playing for quite some time. 

The battle system is akin to Kingdom Hearts.  You'll run around, enemies pop up and you take a fighting stance.  You can jump, but most times you'll be mashing on the action button to swing your blade.  You can take three characters into a party at once and switch between them on the fly.  It doesn't really matter if you do or don't, most characters play the same.  Each character has a close range melee weapon and far range sub weapon.  You'll use your sub weapon by pressing square.  The damage is smaller but it adds up quickly. 

At first Rogue Galaxy has a simple battle system, but it goes well beyond simple button mashing.  Unlike Kingdom Hearts, button mashing won't suffice.  The game throws in a couple of twists to keep you on your toes.  For example, with some enemies you must expose a weakness before you can actually deal damage.  For bosses in particular, there is a particular way to go at them.  For example, in one boss fight the only way to deal damage is if you use a sub weapon to freeze him, otherwise you'll find yourself in a world of hurt.  It keeps you on your toes, but the difficulty of the game will do that well enough.

To keep you from being over reliant on button mashing, there are other interesting things Rogue Galaxy does.  The first is give you an AP gauge.  When the AP gauge runs dry (either through attacking or the use of items and abilities) you can't do anything but run around until it refills.  This is true of ALL characters, not just the one you control.  Along those lines, enemies also do a surprisingly large amount of damage.  In the days before Final Fantasy VII, there was such a thing as "level grinding," in which you had to battle for hours to raise levels and earn money.  Rogue Galaxy pushes this.  In particular, boss fights can be ungodly brutal.  No matter how much health you have, or even how much you grind, bosses are a challenge.  Simple button mashing doesn't help here either.

The only real big knock against Rogue Galaxy in terms of gameplay is how many healing items you'll go through (especially in boss fights) and the AI of your allies.  AI has almost always been a pain in games like this.  The Tales series and Kingdom Hearts do alright with AI, but Rogue Galaxy is almost horrible at it.  In normal battles they do just fine.  They often throw out suggestions to use items.  If you take them up on it, they'll do it.  They'll also use their abilities at your behest.  About the only thing your allies will do on their own is attack, and you don't have very many ways to customize them.  You can either send them off on their own, have them attack the same enemy as you or stand down.  In all instances your allies hardly block.  This is a huge problem in boss battles in which the only thing they're good for is dying.  Unless you want to spend more than half the fight reviving and healing, you're actually better off letting the AI die. 

This is part of the problem with Rogue Galaxy.  It's a fun game to play until you find yourself in a boss fight.  Many of them can be tedious because there's always SOMETHING you have to figure out before you can start doing damage, and they're always incredibly powerful.  Damage here adds up really fast.  In short, you'll probably see the Game Over screen more than once, though in the case of boss fights it isn't because the game is hard... it's because the bosses can do damage well beyond the threshold of your HP.

Dungones are huge, though.  There's no game that begs to be explored more than Rogue Galaxy.  It also does nice little things to keep you going and grinding.  You're supposed to want to battle.  And the battle system is fun enough that you don't mind the random battles (despite a high encounter rate).  The first nice thing is how the abilities work.  Every character can learn what's called revelations.  When you get items you can always go to the revelations grid and see if characters can use them to learn abilities.  Once you set an item in the grid it's there for good, but the items needed are plentiful.  Just the same to learn abilities can take anywhere from one to five items.  But you don't need them all up front.  You can set them as you get them.  As you learn one revelation others open up along the way.  It's very similar to Final Fantasy X's sphere grid or Final Fantasy XII's License Grid.  Each character can learn different abilities. 

Another nice thing they do is let you combine weapon.  Every weapon also has its own form of leveling up.  Elementally and skillfully.  The more you use a weapon the more "skilled" a character becomes.  When the character reaches max skill for a weapon they can combine them with other Max Skill weapons and make stronger ones.  It works out really well.  For a game with such a simple and forgettable story, it's got a lot of customization.  There are also several sidequests to behold as well.  The main story of Rogue Galaxy might take you fifty hours or so to complete.  Most of that might be through battling or something along those lines, but the Sidequests will keep you busy for many more hours.  There's A LOT to do.  

It may not be much for story, but that shouldn't suggest the production values of Rogue Galaxy are bad.  The graphics are phenomenal looking.  It has a cel-shaded look similar to Dragon Quest VIII.  And it looks amazing.  It's also very detailed.  The environments are huge, and while exploring you don't have to suffer through a lot of load times from one screen to another.  And it continues to be finely detailed and run at a pretty good speed.  The music, however, may be the best part of Rogue Galaxy.  To say it's soundtrack is mesmerizing is an understatement.  It's truly enchanting, especially some of the battle themes.  It's got a great soundtrack.  It's voice acting isn't so bad either.  There are times when it comes off as a little dry.  As is often the case, they have the right voices, but not always the right depth of emotion.  Though some of it may just come from some of the games poorly written dialog and story.  But it's still better than what you might expect.  It's not wooden, just a lacking in deep emotions when it's called for. 

Despite having a forgettable story and having some pretty unreasonably challenging boss fights, Rogue Galaxy is still a fine RPG.  It's got the goods in the places where it counts.  Gameplay, sidequests, etc.  While some may not like the idea of the story, you are playing a game developed by Level 5... and they've never been one to focus on story.  They focus on gameplay... and that's primarily what you're getting here.  If you want a deeper more enriching story, there are plenty of other JRPGs on the Playstation 2 that will accomodate you.

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The 2006 PS2 Role-Playing video game


The 2006 PS2 Role-Playing video game

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