|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NIS||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 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 Joseph Catalanotto
While it's a relatively new franchise, Disgaea is hugely popular among many strategy RPG fans. Why? Because there's just so much to it. Many games boast of a single feature that supposedly makes it fun; Disgaea has many. The series now makes the jump to the newest generation of gaming and, for the most part, it's up to snuff. Disregarding a few minor shortcomings, SRPG fans as well as devotees of the series are definitely going to want to pick up Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice.
Like many SRPGs, Disgaea has you selecting characters, positioning them on a map, and then duking it out in turn-based style with enemies. On a character's turn, he or she can move, attack, use a variety of skills, or perform one of several other actions.
This time around, the main character is Prince Mao who's the number one student at the Academy of Evil (he got there by being an all-around bad kid - he's never been to class once) and he's out for vengeance against his father. The exceptional brand of humor that Disgaea fans have come to expect is back, but in Disgaea 3 it feels better than ever. The game is constantly funny but in a more subtle way than in past Disgaea titles, and all-around the story is well-done. In addition to being consistently funny, Absence of Justice also has some pretty serious and dramatic story sections.
While it excels in the humor department, Disgaea 3's story is a bit shorter than that of past iterations of the series. There are eight chapters and the game will take quite a while to complete (a short game in the context of an SRPG is far different from a short game in the context of an action title or an FPS). On the plus side, the post-game options (that is, what you can do once you've cleared the main story) are greater than ever, and if you want, you can easily spend a couple hundred hours with this game.
There are three main components you'll experience while playing Disgaea: the "hub", the homeroom, and, of course, the countless, different battle maps. It's at the homeroom where you'll be working with most of your characters; you can create and modify them as well as place them next to each other at homeroom to increase their chemistry and allow them to perform powerful combinations.
At the "hub," you'll select characters and from there you'll move out into the battle. As I already mentioned, Disgaea is a game known for its depth, and it definitely shows in Absence of Justice. Before you even start fighting, you've already got a wealth of options at your fingertips. Character-building is an addictive endeavor and constructing your ideal party is equally fun.
It's not till you start fighting that things become really hectic to the point of being overwhelming. Moving and attacking are simple enough, but once you throw the complex skills and classes into the mix, things get a little crazy. Rather than gradually learning new skills as in Disgaea 2, Absence of Justice has you earning mana points for defeating enemies and then cashing those in to learn new skills. It's a definite improvement over the last system, at least in my mind, and helps to somewhat streamline an already-confusing skill-gaining process.
The Academy World is a new feature to the Disgaea series, though it's very similar to the Item World of the past games. At the Academy World, you'll be able to not only buy new skills and abilities but also upgrade other various aspects of the many different characters that'll join your party throughout the game. Each character is limited in terms of the different skills they can learn, but some solid character-building mechanics allows you to really customize the units in your party.