|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Idea Factory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: O3 Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 3, 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 Amanda L. Kondolojy
When you talk about the premise for Chaos Wars it sounds like a pretty cool game. It takes characters from several popular JRPG series like Shadow Hearts, Growlanser, and the ultra-popular Gungrave, puts them all together in a parallel universe, and creates an epic RPG. For the most part, this title works well as a piece fans will enjoy. It has some pretty standard, tactical, turn-based RPG gameplay, and a decent enough storyline. However, there are quite a few elements that keep this title from being the stellar RPG it could have been.
The story in Chaos Wars, as with most JRPGs is incredibly intricate and rather complex. You begin the game as a young man who is haunted by a dream about a cave that serves as a portal to an alternate dimension. He decides to play hooky from school to investigate it, and lo and behold, he is transported to the alternate dimension. What follows is a crazy journey through the land of Endia, which is rife with monsters and cameo characters from several JRPG series (Shadow Hearts, Growlanser, Blazing Souls, Gakuen Toshi Vara Noir, Spectral Force, Spectral Souls, Hametsu no Mars, Gungrave and Shinsengumi Gunraw Den).
One of the issues I have with the Chaos Wars' story is there are far too many characters. Most of them are cameo characters from the games listed above, and more than half of these games were never released in the US. Unless you are already familiar with the characters, it is really hard to keep track of everyone. The massive amount of unfamiliar characters also leads to the plot getting rather convoluted about half way through, and the story really becomes a little too much to keep up with. It is also difficult to form bonds with all the characters because you don't get enough time to know them as individuals. Any RPG fan will tell you that when there's no emotional investment in the characters, it is really difficult to care about the story.
Of course, the situation is completely different if you are a die-hard JRPG fan and have bonded with these characters from previous titles. Then it might be right up your alley. But with the small percentage of these games that made it to the US, the chances of you being among this niche category are rather slim.
Aside from the shaky story, the game plays rather well as an RPG. The battle system is primarily menu-based, but allows for tactical movement around the playing field. One very interesting feature of the battle system is the way movement is incorporated. Instead of using the tried-and-true boxes, you actually have completely free movement around the board. Your character will have a set number of steps they can take inside a circular range of motion. It's a fairly cool facet to an otherwise strictly menu-based battle system.