|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 18, 2007||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 Cole Smith
Growlanser: Heritage of War strives to be different, but by dropping the ring skill battle system and adopting more traditional RPG elements, it seems the series has almost come full circle. While Heritage of War is a textbook example of a standard RPG, it's all too familiar (with the exception of the battle system). To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "We all know that RPGs reached perfection in 2001."
Heritage of War treads over old ground, but it's apparent that the developers have learned something from the Generations title which was released back in 04. With some fresh ideas and new gameplay elements, there is a lot more action in this series than your standard RPG. Overall the story unfolds at a good pace, but as with every RPG things do tend to drag. While somewhat more exciting than your standard soap opera plot, the story has just as many twists and turns, not to mention all of the disposable details and inane dialogue. But it's something you get used to when you play RPGs for a living.
Released as a package deal a number of years ago, Growlanser: Generations contained two Growlanser games that some considered hand-me-downs from the land of the rising sun. It featured Growlanser II and III. Both games share a few traits, such as the ring skill battle system, but they can be thought of as totally separate entities. Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice, eschews RPG tradition by streamlining the tedious process of travelling over a huge map, exploring villages, and conversing with the population. It even eliminated turn-based battles. This approach was welcome by many, but it confounded traditionalists who thought it too extreme a tangent from the genre. Some of those streamlined elements have been refined and have been made to work within the traditional RPG format. The resulting game should appeal to a wider audience, including those that feel the need to spend a mini-lifetime with their RPG.
A war is raging on an island kingdom. Flanked by an impregnable force, the inhabitants can't escape as their land is being eroded and they are being starved into extinction. An evil race of aquatic creatures called the Screapers appear to be behind this genocide. They are powerful, deadly, and rapidly approaching the towns and villages, taking no prisoners.
It's a rather simple storyline, made more complicated than it need be pad the content. There are over 50 missions that span five chapters. You will be forced to play as different characters throughout the game. Although the gameplay is non-linear, there is only one ending, and conflict is all but avoidable. When you are forced to change characters, you have to start the leveling-up process all over again. That was a bit of a shock I can tell you. You will play as four different characters, each with their own parties. Eventually you will control the main character, Zeonsilt. He's the best of the bunch, but having to bring him up from nothing is a bit of a make-work chore that I would have liked to avoid.
The ring skill system has been replaced with a hybrid battle system that incorporates some of the best elements of the rings and more traditional RPG systems. The result is more fast-paced combat. Named the Plate Flow System, this feature allows you more flexibility to customize your weapons, attacks, and armor by being able to purchase them in the various stores. Each item comes with a skill plate which is placed on the battlefield in a strategic location. You can have numerous skill plates set up, in order of preference. Each plate becomes activated by technique points earned during battles. After the first plate reaches its maximum level, the power flows to the next plate, and so on. The more successful you are in battle, the more plates you will activate, ultimately generating more power for you to harness. You can change the order of the plates and the direction of the flow so that you can continue to fine tune your battle strategies.