Legend of Legaia Review

For PlayStation

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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