MUSIC & SOUND
+ Beautiful anime style artwork
+ Decent dialogue
- Unintuitive controls
- Old style 2D graphics in some places
- Poorly explained mechanics
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Characters from Darkstalkers,
Disgaea, Ar Tonelico, Spectral
Souls, Atelier Marie, and Mana Khemia
2 join forces in Cross Edge, an RPG with a focus on combat. The story starts
off with some original characters who have been plopped
down in a new, mysterious world. As they set out to
discover where they are, they begin to run into characters
from other worlds. Everyone has amnesia, so they have
to work together to solve their mutual challenge of
how to return home.
As expected with
a crossover of this magnitude, the main story is forgettable.
However, a degree of humor and charm comes out during
the dialogue between the various characters. Those familiar
with the characters from their original games will derive
a greater enjoyment from these interactions. Since twelve
or more characters can contribute to a single conversation,
a good attention span is vital
eschews many of the modern RPG conventions to focus
on the battle and customization systems. While there
are dialogue scenes between the characters at certain
points in the game, there are no populated cities where
one can just wonder around and talk to people. In fact,
moving around is limited to the hand-drawn, flat overland
area and the occasional side-scrolling dungeon. Outside
of fighting battles, players will spend a fair amount
of time roaming these vast lands, the monotony of which
is broken up by frequent random encounters. Furthermore,
in order to locate important items, events and rest
points, searching the area by pressing a button every
few steps is mandatory.
Why can't the entire game look like this...
Since the battle system
is clearly where the developers spent most of their
time, it is clearly the focus of Cross Edge
and where players will spend most of their time as well.
Employing a three by four grid for each side, players
have the ability to chain attacks by pressing the face
buttons within a set period of time. Fully explaining
the battle mechanics is beyond the scope of this review.
However, labeling it as deep and complex would be an
understatement. To compound the complexity, the light
tutorial at the beginning of the game does a poor job
explaining a number of the more important mechanics.
Some RPGamers will enjoy figuring out its many intricacies
while others will be turned off. Even those gamers who
enjoy overly complex mechanics, the battle system still
has a number of issues which take away from the thrill
of the fight; most noticeably the fact that battles
move way too slowly. While animations can be turned
off to speed things up, other elements such as the unintuitive
controls still drag things out.
It is the controls
that cause much of the frustration in Cross Edge.
This game is one of the few RPGs to use almost every
button and directional input on the PS3 controller.
The controls are simply unintuitive and frustrating.
Using the L1 and R1 buttons to cycle through characters
for example, is difficult to get used to when it would
have been so much easier to just use the directional
pad. For most menu selections, the default button works
just fine, however party points are different.
In order to access the party points submenu to upgrade
character skills, a totally different button has to
be pressed. And common commands, such as moving during
combat, are buried in a menu, or tied into a completely
unintuitive button or movement of the controller. Even
after many hours into the game, some players will still
be trying to get used to them.
aspect is another potential draw of Cross Edge, but
it is also weighed down by overly complex, poorly explained
mechanics. Essentially, monsters drop parts which are
used to create weapons, armor and items. Of course,
a book with the appropriate recipe is also needed. After
an item is created once, it can be bought again for
a price, without having to recreate it. A certain type
of earned points can be poured into any item or weapon
to increase their stats within reason. Also, certain
monster drops may be merged with weapons and armor to
increase the stats of the character who wields it. Weapons
may also be broken down to a base element used to create
other weapons. With a short money supply (especially
early in the game) and a lack of explanation of some
of these mechanics, it is left to the player to determine
the benefit of various customization choices through
trial and error. Even then, it is not completely clear
which was the best choice. Should a leveled up weapon
which is slightly outdated be sold for needed gold,
or broken down to its base element? Even though one
cannot use the base element right away, perhaps it will
be needed in the future. Unfortunately, the game does
little to explain this.
The graphics in the
game are a disappointment. Many of the backgrounds are
hand painted, and would not look out of place in an
early PS1 RPG. Combat character graphics are not much
better. The characters and enemies are a mixture of
2-D and 3-D graphics. Both are low res, and just look
out of place when a mixture of both is on the battlefield.
They simply look very outdated. Finally, during story
and dialogue, beautiful, detailed, high resolution hand-drawn
graphics are used. However, they lack any animation.
During the few scenes without voice acting, it is hard
to shake off the feeling that one is playing an RPG
from a decade ago.
The music during
the game fits its mood well. Sound effects during battle,
however, can be a little grating after some time, specifically
some of the yells that the characters utter as they
attack and are hit. The voice acting during dialogue
exchanges is pretty well done. Unfortunately, as mentioned
earlier, a few scenes have no voice acting at all.
In the end, Cross
Edge is a disappointment. While playing through
it, one cannot help but feel that there is a significant
measure of potential in both the gameplay and story.
Even discounting the frustrating controls and lack of
instructions, Cross Edge is the type of deep, difficult
challenge most RPGamers crave. Unfortunately, its potential
is wasted due to the overly complex, poorly explained
game mechanics, atrocious control scheme and botched
menu system. While there will be a handful of dedicated
RPGamers who can look over these severe shortcomings
and enjoy Cross Edge, most will feel that this
game is like Dr. Frankenstein's idea to create life;
a bunch of good parts that, when stitched together,
come out ugly.