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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: NIS America
Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software
Genre: Strategy RPG
Players: 1
Rated: T for Teen (Animated Blood, Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes)
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

September 26, 2011 - No matter how much things change, they tend to say the same. And with no game series has this phrase been true than with Disgaea. The events that unfold within the Disgaea series takes place within the Netherworld, a place unlike anything you have heard of or will ever see in a game, movie, anime or a manga. This is a place where demons run around unchecked, humans are forced to pay for their sins through hard labor and where a child can have supreme rule over the government. It is this setting that the events of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten will unfold.

The epic journey within Disgaea 4 centers around a vampire Prinny instructor by the name of Lord Valvatorez who has sworn a oath to himself that he would no longer partake in human blood, and his werewolf assistant Fenrich. His vow has cost him several spots on the hierarchy, however it hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves… training Prinnies and partaking in a new delectable… sardines. Everything was fine… that is until the government decided to try and pass a new law which would require the massacre of all Prinnies. Not wanting any harm to home to the little blue fellas, Valvatorez and Fenrich set out on their journey to stop this plan of action. Along the way they meat an interesting cast of characters ranging from assassins, to the president’s son, a human girl who died and believes everything she’s experiencing is a dream, and a slew of others. Expect countless hours of humorous situations and over the top battles sequences.

Disgaea 4; just like past Disgaea releases, is a grid-based strategy RPG. For some, this is an immediate turn off as you are required to take turns in order to attack/defend oneself in battle. What’s beautiful about this design is that you have time to plan out your attacks accordingly, rather than simply doing whatever attacks you can perform… running the risk of being defeated in the process. Another nifty feature to the grid-based design of the combat is that once all your pieces are in place, the combat is rather simple to execute. You have your choice of standard attacks, combo attacks, team attacks and special attacks when within the thralls of battle. Your standard attacks are generally physical attacks performed with whatever weapon you have equipped on your character(s). Team attacks can be triggered when you are being attacked by an enemy and you are standing next to an ally. These types of attacks can lead to double the damage being dealt to your enemies. Special attacks are the bread and butter of the combat. These are attacks that can deal massive amounts of damage to your enemies and can be a combination of magic, physical attacks and so much more. At the conclusion of each battle, your performance is rated; which determines of much EXP, money and how many items you receive. Obviously the better you perform, the more of each you will acquire.

The types of attacks you can perform are only half of what you have at your disposal. The battle board; where all your battles take place, also has a part to play in all this mayhem. There will moments where you come across floor panels with different colors, which have a unique attribute to them. Some of the colored panels will give your character(s) a buff like 20% extra damage, while others will give you’re a character a debuff like -50% to defense. These colored panels can turn a losing battle into a victory simply having your party stand in key places. These panels also have the same pros and cons for the enemies you are doing battle; luckily there is an added measure to counteract your enemies increased power. Placed throughout the battle map(s) are color blocks, which if picked up and placed on a different color panel and destroyed, it will automatically change all the panels of said color to the color of the block. Some battles can even be won simply by changing the color of the panels on the floor and not having to deliver a single physical attack.

All of what I mentioned above can be overwhelming if given to you all at once, however thanks to the in-depth in-game tutorial, you will never be overwhelmed by what the game has to offer. This is definitely a practical tool for newcomers to the series and veterans who want to brush up on a few of the game’s mechanics. Another practical tool at your disposal is exploring your home base when not in battle. It is here that you are able to heal your party members, purchase stuff for your inventory - items, weapons, armor – learn new abilities and skills, enter the Item World and visit the Senate Headquarters to see what’s going on and get some legislation passed and create new party members. Spending enough time within your home base to build up your party members’ abilities – new skills, magic, equipping evilities - and making sure your inventory is fully stock, will help build your customer rank within the shops. This will result in better and higher quantities of items being available for you to purchase, which can also help turn the tide in a battle.

The Item World is something special. While you can easily spend 30, 40 or even 50 hours within the world of Disgaea 4, the same amount of time can be spent within the Item World. Within the Item World, you are able to choose an item, weapon or piece of armor you want to enter. Once inside the item, you are tasked with navigating through the world while surviving random battles in order to find an exit. With every level you navigate through within that particular item, you raise the item’s stats. Upon reaching the 5th level, you have the option to continuing raising the stats of the item, back out or look for other stats you can increase within that particular item’s world. Some may opt not venture down this path, however investing something into this “self-sustaining game”; you can actually make your experience within Disgaea 4 all the more easier.

Considering other NIS America releases for the PS3 console have gone the 3D route, it’s nice to see that developer Nippon Ichi Software opted to stay true to the franchise and embrace the 2D character sprites. Every aspect of the presentation is top notched. From the detailed character sprites, to the lush and detail environments, to the special effects that take up most of the screen when special attacks are performed, to the humorous and over-the-top voice acting from the dozens of characters within the game. While it’s hard to compare Disgaea 4 with the likes of Uncharted, Heavy Rain or even L.A. Noire in terms of visual presentation, when it comes to the overall quality of the experience, Disgaea 4 plays second fiddle to no one.

Considering there is so much to do within Disgaea 4: A Promise Forgotten, some won’t be able to complete the experience. You can get lost within the world that Disgaea 4 presents, and that’s not a bad thing. Disgaea 4 was designed from the ground up to be all about replayability. The level cap in Disgaea 4 is 9,999, which no other game or series will be able to lay claim to. If you were to die in battle, you have the option to load your last save file, or start a new game. If you opt to start a new game, you carry over your level, abilities and items into the new, making you a force to be reckon with in the early parts of the game.

Is Disgaea 4: A Promise Forgotten a perfect experience, I’ll be the first to say no. Every game has its shortcomings, but Disgaea 4 does so many things right that you can overlook its shortcomings. This is an RPG experience unlike anything that has come from another franchise. You can easily invest 50-60 hours into this game and still not see everything it has to offer gamers. Disgaea 4 is three games in one – Main Game, Senate Headquarters and Item World – and each experience can be explored on its own and makes the other components a richer experience. If you haven’t picked up Disgaea 4: A Promise Forgotten and you are a fan of RPG titles, you owe it to yourself not to miss out on this “once in a lifetime” experience.


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