|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Idea Factory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 29, 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
While there is something to be said about consistency within a genre and sticking to the format, in today's game-saturated marketplace, this has become the exception rather than the rule. Games are not judged by how well they stick to established norms, but rather how they break away from these norms and become unique experiences.
So, when a title like Spectral Force 3 comes along, there's basically only two ways it can go. It can either be a mind-blowing, cutting-edge title that pushes the boundaries of the genre or just another RPG. Unfortunately, Spectral Force 3 is of the latter group and can best be described as a nuts-and-bolts RPG that has no real unique or individual characteristics. However, having a generic gameplay style doesn't automatically qualify an RPG as mediocre or not worth your time. In fact, I rather enjoy a classic-style RPG every once in a while. Games like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon made up for their old-school gameplay with sprawling stories and amazing graphics. And titles like Final Fantasy Tactics A2 give the classic gameplay a boost by adding new dimensions and parameters to the core gameplay. So, believe me when I say that I am perfectly content with classic-style RPGs. However, the trouble with Spectral Force 3 is that it relies too heavily on classic gameplay and doesn't have much else to make this game a worthwhile experience.
The story here is fairly generic and takes place during a political upheaval. The daughter of a well-known and despised evil overlord has taken power, and chaos has ensued. The streets have become battlegrounds, and the world is divided between several factions. You begin the game playing as a band of mercenaries who quickly disband after they lose their leader. Your main goal is to create a new band of mercenaries and become a new force to be reckoned with in the chaos of the current world. In addition to fighting a very large share of enemies, you'll also have to recruit new people to join your band. And you can create an impressive roster with more than 40 characters to choose from to make up your ultimate dream party.
As I said before, the gameplay is very standard tactical RPG fare, and it is almost a carbon copy of the core gameplay of titles like Final Fantasy Tactics' grid-based play. You are able to move around the board and execute proximity-based attacks that depend on job and skill level. Characters have standard attacks and special attacks that generally take an elemental form. You are able to level up your characters in the standard way, and you can distribute skill points in any way that you see fit.