|System: Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sting||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 8, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
Sony's PS2, much to the delight of its countless owners, has never suffered from a lack of high-quality games. That said, the PS2 is a popular system and such popularity undoubtedly attracts many games that, to be blunt, aren't really that good. RPGs are in no short supply on the console, thanks to such franchises as Final Fantasy and some of the Tales games. Baroque is a hack-and-slash RPG on the PS2, and in comparison to fairly recent RPGs such as Final Fantasy XII that have been so good, Baroque really fails to impress.
Baroque's protagonist is a rather cryptic character who's lost all memory of who he is. You've awakened in a mysterious town and given a mysterious message by a mysterious angel. There's a lot of mystery around here, as you've probably noticed, but the game didn't really go anywhere with this. Of course there's a plot, and it resolves around the protagonist and his "quest for the truth," but it's rather shallow, and the promising storytelling elements revealed in the game's opening never really come back. Your character has next-to-no personality, which is partly a problem with the game's writing. In a word it's disappointing, though I won't say terrible because there are a few neat parts of the plot. Still, most of the characters you interact with are poorly done, and the dev team took a Zelda approach to the game in that the main character can't speak. I hate to break it to them, but unless your main character is a timeless hero who's instantly recognizable by 90 percent of the mass public, it's not a good idea to make your character mute.
The bulk of this game is in its gameplay, as you'd likely expect from any standard RPG. Actually, Baroque isn't really "standard" -- it's a dungeon crawler. I'll go ahead and say it right now: if you're into dungeon crawlers, then there's still hope for a happy relationship between you and Baroque. But if you find them boring or generally don't like them, then I'd strongly suggest that you stay away from this game.
The aforementioned angel directs you to Neuro Tower, and it's here that you'll be spending the vast majority of your time in this game. Neuro Tower holds all the secrets of your character, and it's by progressing through this massive dungeon that you'll ultimately unravel the mysteries of Baroque. The developers have pulled another really old trick out of their hat and created the game so that every time you enter Neuro Tower, you get a randomly generated dungeon -- think back to Pokemon Mystery Dungeon on the DS and GBA. This would be a neat addition and extend the game's play value if it weren't for the fact that Baroque simply isn't that fun of a game.
The biggest problem with Baroque stems from the game's poor controls. Baroque on the PS2 is essentially a button-mashing real-time RPG. To be honest, there's not a lot of strategy to be found here aside from just hitting the basic attack button over and over again. Such gameplay mechanics actually can work well, but not in a game with so simple a combat implementation as Baroque. As a result, there's nothing to really get good at because there's no real challenge with the combat. Sure, you'll have to be quick with that defend button sometimes, but aside from that the controls are entirely lackluster. I could have looked past this normally, but the truth is that the poor controls really take a lot away from Baroque and seriously detract from the fun of the title.