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You have the right to remain silent
The Breath of Fire series has been around for quite some time now, on three different consoles. The first two games were released for the SNES, the next two for the PSX, and now the fifth has been released for the PS2. While the first two games were considered as okay RPGs with decent plot and battle systems etc, I hoped that Breath of Fire III would bring the series to the next level. How Capcom failed to accomplish this, I do not understand. Once again, it was the silent Ryu, taking on a boring mission.
Starting out, we have the simple battle system. In a random encounter, your party consists of 3 characters (Ryu always included). As usual, there are two ways of defeating enemies; through either attacking normally with weapons, or using magic. When a character uses magic, AP is drained from that character's AP gauge (similar to MP in most other RPGs). Finding items that fills up your AP gauge is almost impossible... they are extremely rare, so you might want to take it easy with the magic casting. Not only magic uses AP, but also ordinary battle skills. Characters learn new skills while leveling up, but also from enemies during battles. In combat, every character in your party has the ability to use the command 'Examine' on one enemy, once their turn is up. If that particular enemy performs a skill that you can learn, a '!' will pop up above your character, indicating that he or she has learned the skill. Later on, you can use this skill at any time during battle.
As usual, Ryu has the ability to transform into a dragon. I liked the way BoF III handled this better than any of the other Breath of Fire games actually. When Ryu transforms, he actually turns into a dragon, instead of becoming some demi-human as seen in BoF IV and V. This is something you'll definitely save for boss battles though, as the AP cost for Ryu's dragon form is extremely high. Unfortunately, very few of the other characters have anything that makes them special in battle. However, you can find masters throughout the game that can learn the different characters new abilities and such. Some masters are better for some characters. For example, you would want Ryu to have someone powerful as his master, so that his strength and HP goes up, etc.
Outside battle is a different thing though. Each character has a unique ability that can be used with the triangle button in the field. In Ryu's case, you can cut things that are in the way with your sword. Rei can pick locks, and Garr can move heavy objects. While this is entertaining and makes the character more interesting, it can also be very annoying. I mean, you don't want to run through half a dungeon, just to find out that you need to go back and get another character, because there is something in the way.
While menus and such are very simple and basic, I can't understand how any player out there can like the controls of this game. I know that the game is old, but still, at that time, this could've been done in a much better way. It's almost impossible to walk up to a switch on the first try, as you'll most likely end up at the side of it, or something like that. This also provided lots of trouble in the mini-games, as you needed some serious precision in some of them. I also have to add another thing about the mini-games. Beware of them. Be prepared for some of the most dull and uninteresting (and most importantly, weird) mini-games ever to be seen in any RPG out there. Seriously... either they could've cut down on them (they are everywhere), or they could've made them more understandable.
If you want, you can add the minigames to the game's overall Originality. I mean, you won't find any game with this kind of minigames. But overall, the game wasn't that fresh even when it came out. Even for that time, it was very basic and simple, extremely average. There is nothing that stands out saying that this is a very special game. Nothing at all. That goes for Music and Localization as well. The music reminds me a lot of the music you sometimes hear in elevators. It's pleasant, but gets very annoying after a few minutes. Most tracks are the same, and there are way too few town themes. Considering you visit a whole bunch of towns in BoF III, it would've been better with more of them. I'm going to give the music score a little boost for the battle and boss themes though, as well as the character's battle cries. Especially Ryu's voice in battle was great.
As for localization, it is ok. I really would've wanted Ryu to actually say something, at least once throughout the game. But he will remain silent, only nodding or shaking his head sometimes. There were lots of things missing in the dialogue as well... emotion, for example. The conversations are boring, and most of the things that are said are actually without meaning. Capcom tried to fit in some humor into the dialogue as well, but it failed miserably, if you ask me. But that, I guess, is a matter of taste...and I happen to dislike this kind of silly humor.
One of the few things that I enjoyed in this game, were the graphics. Considering it has been more than 6 years since this game came out, the visuals are still okay. The character models are actually quite detailed, and I didn't notice any annoying bugs or glitches.
Lastly, we have the plot. Hmm...this is where it gets really uninteresting. In the prologue, you find out a little about dragons, namely that they once had the power to destroy the entire world, but are now extinct. When the game starts, you are once again Ryu. As usual, Ryu is clueless about himself, and goes out on a journey for the Truth about himself and the dragons. Where did he come from? What did his power come from? What is he supposed to do? All of these questions make the plot interesting and exciting. Although, there are many parts in the game that actually don't matter... and there are way too few plot events that actually concerns the main story. It's like in the old days, where you found out in the beginning where you were headed, and then you just went through dungeon after dungeon, until you finally got there... and after that, the game pretty much ended. Honestly, that might've been an exaggeration, but it wouldn't have hurt with a little more story events.
Fortunately, the game is easy at most times. A few of the bosses might give you quite a hard time, but dungeons and such are of no particular difficulty. If you want to spend lots of time leveling up, doing sidequests (and most importantly, spending lots of time with the minigames), you'll probably stick around with this game for 50 hours or more. If you just want to finish it quickly though, it'll take about 30 hours. I can almost guarantee that you won't play this game twice... I mean, there really is no point in doing that. There are two endings, but you don't have to replay the entire game to get the second. Also, when you finish the game, you can save and begin a new game with your old equipment and stats.
In conclusion, Breath of Fire III was a disappointment. It might've been better than the first two games, but compared to most other RPGs seen on the PlayStation, this isn't something that I would recommend.
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