|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|
Control in this title is very straightforward and continues the typical trend of this title. In a singular interesting facet, there are no menus used to give commands. Instead, each character will have different actions mapped to the 360 face buttons. The system works very well, but using a different button scheme for each character does take a little getting used to.
But if the gameplay can best be described as standard and consistent, then the graphics are best described as inconsistent. When you begin the game, you are treated to a very high-quality, anime, cinema-style scene with obviously high production values. But then you start the game and the graphics look straight out of last-gen. The battle sequences look almost identical to very early PlayStation 2 titles, and they do not utilize the Xbox 360's technical capabilities at all, which is a shame since this title is an Xbox 360 exclusive. The discrepancy between the cinema scenes and the in-game graphics are extremely wide, and it makes the transition periods feel more than a little awkward.
Sound in this title may be its only redeeming quality, as the voiceovers are excellently done. Honestly, the voice acting in this title is better then some Square Enix titles with much higher production values. Another thing I appreciated about the voiceovers is that they are very consistent. Many times in RPGs you'll get dialogue in some scenes and scrolling text in others, and you'll never know when you'll get either. But luckily, this title has very consistent high quality voice work and it really shows. However, this title misses the audio perfection mark for having some seriously annoying and repetitive background music as well as some truly bizarre sound effects. For instance, walking sound effects sound like high heels (despite most of your characters being male), and attacking people with a sword sounds like dropping flour on a wrestling mat. Yeah, it's that weird.
I enjoyed Spectral Force 3 when I first started it up. I liked the old school tactical gameplay, and I was excited to see where it went. However, I was sorely disappointed when this game ended up going nowhere. There are just not enough new features in this title to warrant a purchase, and I find that my RPG time was better spent tackling more rule-based quests in Final Fantasy A2 or breaking out some of the more vintage turn-based RPGs. I suppose this title really proves that the old adage "what is old is new again" is really false. What is old in this case really just feels, well, old. Hopefully, the Spectral Force saga will be able to reinvent itself before its next iteration; otherwise it looks like this series may find itself on the outer fringes of modern and relevant gameplay.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer