: Playstation 3
: Compile Heart
: Compile Heart & NIS America
: Cross Edge is a joint effort from Idea Factory, Gust, Capcom, and Nippon Ichi with Compile Heart at the helm of development. It features characters from Darkstalkers, Ar Tonelico, Disgaea, Spectral Souls, and Mana Khemia.
Received game today. In case you didn't hear, I was very concerned before I even received it, due to a particularly low review from a big gaming site. Between the bad games I've played lately, and the good games that were just plain hard and punishing (I'm looking at you Dark Spire!), I wasn't ready for another round of punishment. Thankfully some fellow RPGamers were already chatting some good things about this game on our boards. That, and the fact that the average reader reviews seem pretty high. (Mind you, as a rule, I don't read reviews on games I plan to review myself in the near future. So, I haven't read any of the text on them). Anyway, next time I'll actually post my early game impression, which will be very soon.
I got a few hours into it, so I can give a very initial impression. The story thus far is a lose, somewhat generic reason to pull characters from these different 'universes' together. It's hard to come up with something real solid that bring Etna together with Morgan and with charcters from Ar Tonelico and Mana Khemia. Thus far, the interactions between the characters themselves is the strongest part of the story. It's typical Japanese Manga/Anime style banter. If you're a fan of the at least 3 of these series, you'll get a lot more out of it than someone who is not.
When I'm not talking, I'm either fighting, wondering around the overland, or trying to figure out the synthesis / upgrade workshop. I won't get into details on anything just yet, as I haven't completely figured out half of it. The overland is pretty basic. You wonder around, trying to find hidden 'lost souls' to get free items, party members and special events. This reminds me a lot of Wild Arms' overland system of locating hidden locations. You take a few steps, hit a button, watch a bubble indicating you're searching the area around you, and repeat. Alot.
Once you run into an event, the story is conveyed via dialogue between characters ala Disgaea 3. In fact, if you've played D3, you know exactly what to expect as far as graphics go. The characters, when talking, look great in high def. In combat, however, they are pretty lacking. While not quite as bad as D3's combat sprites, they certainly do not tax the power of the PS3. What's so hard about making combat graphics look better?
I'll talk more about the combat next time... as, similar to Disgaea, it is the meat and potatoes of the game. Thankfully, fights are much faster than Disgaea, and remind me of Valkarie Profile games.... which is a good thing. Like Disgaea, however, there are a number of nuances to both combat, and weapons/armor upgrades which have to be mastered to get the most out of it.
As expected, I got some more time into this today. I can certainly confirm that the voice acting and writing / localization seems to be pretty good thus far. There was one skit that left me scratching my head, but I'm not sure if that was the localization, or me somehow accessing the story in the wrong order. The story, thus far, is very ho hum. This is somewhat expected in a plot involving characters from five different games. The interaction and banter between them, however, can be amusing at times.
The biggest problem is, aside from these cut scene dialogues (Done Disgaea style), there's only combat, exploration and customization of times. The last two are handled extremely poorly and the first one is questionable. Today, I'll touch on combat.
Combat is turn based. You line four of your characters up on a 4x3 grid while against your opposition on the other side. Your characters started off with a set amount of Action Points which can be used in attacking, moving on the grid, switching out with other characters and using items. You map various attacks to your face buttons before battle. Which attacks you map, however, is limited by the weapon you are using. Beginning weapons, for example, only support one attack. So, for the first few hours of the game, you are playing characters who have only have one attack choice.
If you pass your turn without taking an action, you will save your AP's. You can save up to twice your starting amount in this order. By saving up your AP's, you might be able to pull off combo attacks with other characters. Alternatively, if your special attack gauge is somewhat filled from dishing out and absorbing damage, you can also unleash super attacks.
Attacks have ranges, and some have areas of effects. It's not unusual to have to move your characters around in battle to get in range to attack, move out of range so they don't all get caught in an enemy's AoE attack, etc. What is irritating, however, is that the command to move (or "Shift) your character is buried in a start menu. Far too many button presses have to take place to move your characters around. Furthermore, there are slight pauses when you enter the 'start menu' and whatnot. These pauses add up after a while. Alternatively, you can press left on the left analog stick to activate the "Shift" command. However, this is only really mentioned once that I remember in the game. If you didn't catch it (or remember it) in the somewhat long, text based tutorial, you might play through the game using the slow start menu.
Customization, the building up your weapons, is a critical part of the game, which I will go into more detail next time. I found out the hard way that you just cannot get very far into the 2nd area without putting in the time to farm the needed gold and materials necessary to build the next round of weapons and armor. Even with those, it is possible to be wiped out, quickly, by a strong random group. Despite my new armor, enemy mages can still wipe out my strongest character in 2-3 hits. It's not unusual to run into a group of 3 mages and several support units in front of them.... so depending on who gets initiative, surviving through the first round can be problematic.
Currently I just got Felicia on the team, investigated the area to the south of that where I gained the 2nd level in "Search." One of the characters recommend that I go back and search the first area using my stronger search skills. While that really does NOT sound like fun, I will make it my first order of business tonight.