Rating: Good Legend of Legaia dares to be different with its innovative and in-depth battle system, but ultimately it is the battle system that prevents it from being the must-have game it could have been. The battles in the game start out in typical RPG fashion. You're walking along and all of a sudden you enter into a random encounter with a group of enemies, at which point you enter in a bunch of commands and wait for the fight to unfold in turn-based fashion. The actual fighting is very similar to many fighting games, complete with combos for the player to discover. It would be an understatement to say that the encounter rate in Legend of Legaia is extremely high. The battles happen very frequently and last a very long time, which quickly becomes annoying when you're just trying to walk across the world map or get to the next room of a dungeon. Even the Auto Battle feature requires way too many button pushes every turn, which defeats the whole purpose of auto battle. The battles can get pretty intense at times and the interface is very intuitive, and I might have even liked the battle system in the long run if the game's encounter rate weren't so high. But as it is, I got sick of getting into a long drawn- out fight every ten seconds. If I wanted to get into a bunch of fights, I would buy a fighting game. To be fair, it would seem as though the designers of the game had no choice but to make the battles the centerpiece of the game. The centerpiece of the game certainly couldn't be the generic story line. The predictable plot places you in a world dominated by the evil mist (as opposed to the PC game industry, which was dominated for years by the evil Myst). With the help of two friends you meet along the way named Noa and Gala, you must drive the mist away from the land by reviving all the Genesis Trees (as opposed to the Super Nintendo Trees, which bring bad sports games and great RPGs to all). Besides being boring, the plot is also very linear. There's always somebody there to tell you, "Go do this! OK! Now, go do this!" I would have liked to have been given more options in the game and been allowed to figure some things out for myself instead of having my virtual hand held the whole way through. The game's story line has many little oversights and annoyances, such as the village elder in your hometown, who is creatively named "Village Elder." Who names their kid "Village"? The game is also fairly short on dialogue. Your conversations with townspeople grow repetitive very quickly, and they are not updated nearly as often as they should be after major events take place in the game world. The characters also look just plain goofy during many story line sequences, with that Mario 64-like Wiggle In Place Syndrome. And why does Noa insist on flapping her arms like a bird at random points throughout the game? The graphics can get pretty blocky and unrealistic-looking up close, but they're still very good. Overall, I'd say that the graphics, special effects, and cut scenes are significantly better than old-school RPGs like Suikoden, while still well below the two-year-old standard set by Final Fantasy 7. The game's music is a mixed bag. Some of it is great; some of it starts out great and slowly becomes annoying; some it starts out annoying and grows on you; and some of it sucks from the first time you hear it. The default battle music that you're forced to listen to for most of the game isn't really annoying, but it's not exactly the catchiest tune I've ever heard, either. Underneath the insane amount of battles and the generic story line in Legend of Legaia is a game that is actually pretty good if you can muster up the willpower to keep playing. But I've got better things to do with my time than play a glorified turn-based fighting game with half-hearted story line segments thrown in every hour or so.
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