|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tri-Ace||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 2, 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|
First, players will play the entire game as Capell, the reluctant hero. Making attacks is as simple as pressing the A and B buttons for Quick and Power attacks, respectively. For example, combinations, called Special Attacks, are easily executed by linking a series of Quick attacks with a finishing Power attack.
If executed in concert with the AP Gauge (a meter that fills with successive strikes), players will be rewarded with special bonuses and more devastating effects, assuming the meter is greater than the targets rating. This is also true of Battle Skills. By holding down on either of the buttons, players can execute Battle Skills (magical attacks that use both the MP [magic points] and AP gauges).
Additionally, players can map various Battle Skills they acquire to either the Quick or Power Attack buttons. Assigned skills will be more or less powerful and use more or less MP depending on the slot that is chosen. In this way, players can measure and control the amount of damage they want dish out and how much MP they will consume. Also, targeting enemies is easily executed; simply by clicking the R stick, targets will be selected. Using LB will toggle between the enemies. In addition, blocking in Infinite Undiscovery with LT is a very important technique, as opponents will be stunned, giving you an opportunity to counter. Unfortunately, parrying attacks is ineffective unless you get the timing just right; expect to take a lot of damage. Nevertheless, the organization of the controls is straightforward and can quickly be mastered. Despite lackluster defensive capabilities, it doesnt get much easier than beasting on the baddies with a Morse Code-like series of two-button combinations.
Though solo combat is user-friendly, the game begins to slip up a bit whilst giving tactical orders and connecting with additional party members. There are six tactical commands that can be issued to your party members via the D-pad that serve to manage their actions. These commands include Free, Combo, Focus, Spread, Wait, and Save MP. Having the six tactical options is nice, but some of them are redundant. For instance, Combo and Focus both tell team members to concentrate on the selected target. The only difference between the two is that Combo will have them try and chain attacks together (something you always want them to do anyway). This wouldnt be such a concern except for the fact that employing them mid-battle is wonky. Why? Because having six instead of four means you have to scroll through the list of tactical options by hitting up or down on the D-pad rather than being able to instantly access the a specific command by pressing up, down, left, or right. It seems like this could have been alleviated by condensing Focus and Combo and Free and Spread, so wed be left with four, easily accessible options.
What's more, players can link Capell directly to other characters. These attacks, skills, and actions are executed by holding down the RB button and pressing the button associated with the character (X, A, or B). Then, pressing X or Y will initiate the Connect Actions (CAs), which, like Battle Skills, can be adjusted under the Connect tab in the main menu. Implementing CAs is easy both in and out of combat, but making adjustments to mapped skills during a fight is next to impossible. In fact, menu navigation is very cumbersome in this game. This is accentuated by the fact that the game constantly progresses in real-time. You can pause the game at anytime, but you cant access these menus from the pause screen. As such, monsters and the like will take advantage while youre distracted. So, make sure your Battle Skills, Equipment, Connect Actions, etc. are fine-tuned before getting into action or youll pay the price. This real-time feature was meant to add some realism and challenge, but, in the end, its just frustrating and superfluous and may curb some of your enjoyment during combat.
However, outside of battle, navigating and adjusting settings via the menu is intuitive, if not boring and tedious. The expansive menus allow players to tailor the way their party fights by determining exactly which items, magic, skills, etc. can be used during battle. That way, the best items can be saved for use at the exact right moment and not needlessly wasted by the friendly A.I. The ability to customize your party in this way is both one of the games great strengths and weaknesses; this is a JRPG that requires constant, attentive management from its players. If you dont enjoy endlessly fine-tuning your party, you will likely be frustrated or bored by all the nuances of party management. This is only heightened by the sheer number of party members youll have to deal with. After a while, buying equipment, changing skills, modifying connect actions, etc. for 15+ characters can get very annoying.
Along those lines, there are a lot of other extra things you can do in Infinite Undiscovery that will seem unnecessary to many, yet absolutely essential to JRPG buffs. Things like having Capell play his flute to access neat abilities, enchanting items to give your party temporary buffs, and linking up with characters outside of combat to get access to their unique skills such as speaking to animals, cooking, and writing adds complexity but becomes wearisome.
In fact, thats the best way to describe this title: its complex, yet boring. There is a lot here for JRPG hardcore fans to gush over, but the rest of you will likely tire of the game. Notwithstanding, the title has definitely seen its fair share of polish and, for fans of Tri-Ace, is still worth picking up before the release of Star Ocean: The Last Hope.
CCC Editor / News Director