T (Teen)Release Date:
May 26, 2009 Screenshots: Link Amazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Itís no secret that for a PlayStation platform, the PSP hasnít received its fair share of quality RPGs within the three years itís been on the market. Though there were titles like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Jeanne DíArc and several others that kept audiences glued to their handhelds, most of the RPGs that hit the mighty handheld were either lackluster, or simply were a victim of the technical issues surrounding using the UMD format. In an effort to bring more quality titles to the handheld, Atlus teamed up with developer IronNos to bring Korean developed Astonishia Story 2: Fate to Unhorse One to the North American market in the form of Crimson Gem Saga. In a generation all about visuals, Crimson Gem Saga harks back to the days of simplistic visuals and simple, yet robust combat system so that gamers can easily enjoy the engaging experience from beginning to end.
The story within Crimson Gem Saga revolves around a recent graduate from Green Hill Academy, Killian von Rohcoff, who has always strived to be number 1, but never quite achieving such a feet. After almost missing his graduation and not becoming valedictorian, Killian looks toward leaving town and finding a job in order to put everything back in perspective. After finding a job with an elite military group and joining them on a mission, Killian feels that everything is falling back into place, only to have his life almost taken from him. It seems the squadron was attached by a mystery silver-haired foe, leaving only Killian alive to tell the tale. Spinel, a treasure hunter, finds Killian and convinces him to join up with her, which ultimately leads to a whole new journey, this time to uncover an ancient artifact.
Unlike your everyday run of the mill RPGs, Crimson Gem Saga injects life and soul into each and every character, including the NPCs (non-player characters). Each character has his or her own style and attitude, which is brought to the forefront by the outstanding writing and voiceover work. There are sarcastic and arrogant individuals you will come across in your missions that live up the definition of each word. For those who have dabbled into JRPGs a little will look at this title and see yet another so-so game, not really worth the time and effort. However, once they invest some time into the game, will see that the story is very immersive, drawing them into a personal relationship with the cast of characters. This endearing quality is often the missing ingredient that most other RPG titles seem to lack; a since of connection.
The gameplay within Crimson Gem Saga will have players going from town to field to dungeons and back throughout the game. The towns are more information hubs where you can talk to various NPCs and get vital information. You can also purchase various items needed for when you are in battle. When outside of towns, on the field or within the dungeons, you must contend with several enemy encounters. As you travel the terrain, if you catch the attention of one of the enemies, they will begin to pursue you to until a battle ensues. If they are able to get you from behind, they have a nice preemptive attack awaiting or you in battle. However, if you are able to catch them from behind, then you too can deliver a nice preemptive attack on your foes. A nice element that adds to the difficulty of the game is the fact that you can only utilize a map when you are within a town or field. Once you venture underground, you are on your own. With so many different branching paths within the dungeons, you can easily go from the main quest to a side quest, without really knowing which direction is correct.
Lending itself very well to the storytelling is the traditional, tried and true combat system. Everything about the combat system screams JRPG, and because of this you will often spend hours upon hours battling it out with various foes in order to increase your characterís levels and their abilities. This tactic will also come in handy when acquiring more powerful weaponry and armory items. With each battle won, your characters acquire experience points, money, items, and skill points (SP). The SP is pooled and utilized by your characters in order to unlock, upgrade and learn new skills. Each character within your party has his or her own skill tree where SP can be allocated to reveal a new skill and also to learn that ability. Due to the skills only having to be revealed in order to acquire a branching skill, Crimson Gem Saga allows players to tailor their party members to their liking without dealing with too many headaches.
The visuals within Crimson Gem Saga are another area to marvel over. Harking back to the days of the 16-bit era, CGS sports some impressive 2D imagery and detailed environments. Character animations, whether on the side of good or bad, are all well detail. IronNos even took the time to create detail battle sequence deaths, which are entertaining. Though not rendered in full 3D, Crimson Gen Saga makes full use of the PSPís high resolution screen; ensuring colors are bright and vibrant. The game still sports load times, however they are kept at a minimum, allowing the connection that develops with the characters within the game to seem free-flowing. While some may prefer playing Crimson Gem Saga on their PSP, if you hook your handheld up to your TV, whether SD or HD, the gameís presentation is still on par with that of the handheld.
The sound is another strong point within Crimson Gem Saga. While the voice acting is not of the caliber of a Hollywood movie, each characterís audio portrayal is very spot on with the personality of said character. The gameís soundtrack brings some of the best orchestral music to the PSP that I have heard in while. Each track fits the mood and setting of each level, adding to the atmospheric immersion. The special effects are another well thought out area of the game. The various weapons and weapon attacks sound realistic and genuine. Not to be muffled by the game soundtrack, each special effect is load and clear, allowing the player to distinguish it from the music and other sounds you may here through the game.
The PSP has had it shares of ups and downs as one minute there are several quality titles, then all of a sudden there is a streak of lackluster titles being released. With 2009 looking to be a strong year for the mighty handheld, Crimson Gem Saga is another shining example that quality titles can be produced for the handheld without having to focus on visuals, leaving the remaining elements as an afterthought. If you are looking for the next big RPG title to hit the handheld, look no further than Crimson Gen Saga.8.5/
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