Nov 14 2007
I was fully intending on completing it 100% (i.e. getting all 1000 gamerscore points) before writing this review, but i got an hour into my 2nd play through before thinking “you know what, i really can’t be bothered to spend 20+ hours playing just to get a couple of extra score pieces for ~700 gamerscore”, so on with the review…
What can i say that screenshots haven’t already, lol. It is incredibly incredibly pretty, probably one of the best cel shaded things i’ve seen (a certain h-game beats it though imo, lol. (NSFW)). I really am amazed by how far cel shading has come in the past few years, i remember XIII and Killer 7 with their terrible cel shading in comparison, how long before we see a full length 3D cel shaded anime?
Other than the initial “wow” of the graphics, there’s a lot of other things that are really pretty too, like the hair, so so much better than any of the dodgy hair that Dead or Alive 4 had. And not only that, most of the game is really bright and cheerful to watch/play, none of those dark emo dungeons thank you very much!
While the majority of it was very pretty, there were 2 things that somewhat annoyed me throughout (hence the 8.5 and not 10)…
- Absolutely no changes of clothing. You equip a new dress or piece of armour but your clothes still look exactly the same. I thought this was meant to be “next gen”? I want to see Polka in the “fancy clothes” i bought for her. (apparantly the PS3 version will have customizable clothing though)
- There were very few monster designs, just different coloured versions of them later on. Did they run out of space on the disc, or were they just lazy?
For a game based around Chopin you’d hope it would have some high quality music. And boy does it not disappoint!
Absolutely amazing music score, full of beautiful piano melodies, and 7 pieces of Chopin’s work as performed by Russian pianist Stanislav Bunin.
Each of the 7 Chopin pieces is tied to a chapter in the game, and can be heard at various points. You’re also given quite a bit of background regarding the circumstances under which Chopin composed each piece, along with some insight into his life.
It really is a terrific soundtrack, and fits the game so so very well.
The story i’d say is pretty unique in concept, though probably not quite as fleshed out as well as it could be in some places, and rather generic in others.
Basic plot: Chopin is sleeping on his death bed, dreaming his final dream. The events of Eternal Sonata all take place inside that dream. Anyone who is terminally ill in this world can use magic, leaving them to be outcasts amongst society (fear of catching disease). Through various circumstances the group all meet up, and head off with the same goal of speaking to the count in the hopes he can resolve some of the issues they’re having with society.
You can easily tell the developers were trying to get a few social commentaries on modern society in their with the each of the characters motivations (tax, human destruction of natural habitats, war, etc.). I guess they weren’t trying to hide it, but it was a bit “meh”.
Now if it were just that on it’s own i probably would have given it quite a lower score, but the reason i gave it 7.5 is because of the way it all ties in with Chopin’s life. I went into this game not knowing anything about him other than that he was a composer, but i finished the game feeling thoroughly educated on his life, his works, and his death.
Each vague “chapter” in the game is tied to a piece of his music, and part of his life (leaving Poland, rebellions, suffering through tuberculosis etc.), and as mentioned earlier at the end of each chapter you’re given probably around a 10 minute descriptive video featuring actual pictures of locations and stuff talking about various parts of his life while one piece of music plays. It’s really quite clever how they tied it all into the plot as a lot of the events in game reflect parts of his life.
As for the ending… it was beautiful, asks a lot of questions on life, and gives a few insightful moments. (don’t forget to watch after the credits have ended for a “bonus” video… though it has no subtitles in Japanese voice mode)
The battle system takes a little getting used to at first, but you’re given a tutorial on all the various functions as you progress. Basically it’s turn based, but when each character’s turn comes up they get to move around in real time and execute various attacks trying to build up the combo’s, and then unleash a special attack. The more combo’s the more powerful the special attack. Also note that you can use different special attacks depending on whether you’re standing in the light or dark on the battlefield, and that the enemy may also act different if they’re in dark/light.
Now that all seems pretty simple, but as you progress through the game you gain “party levels” which add more complex things to the battle system, and reduce the amount of time you have to make your move. One such advanced feature are the harmony chains, which let you chain together attacks from multiple characters in one characters turn for uber damage. And once you reach party level 6 you can chain together every character’s special attacks (so long as they’re in range) in one characters turn for truly uber damage. Only catch there is that the buttons for attack and special attack change randomly after each special on party level 6…… fun fun, gotta concentrate to get all 6 harmony chains, lol. As another review said somewhere, “the battle system is like a mini game in itself!”. It’s definitely the best battle system in an RPG i’ve played… ever. So much depth possible.
Would have been 10, but minus a point for you having basically no freedom on where you go, as seems to be the norm with Japanese RPG’s these days. You’re stuck on a linear path all the way to the end.
Actually that’s quite an important point, the game really did feel like a movie where you occasionally use your control stick to manually move to the next scene, lol. I guess that’s not really a complaint. But some of those cut scenes were *really* long, the wireless 360 controller kept turning off and pausing them due to inactivity on the controller, lol, developers should have added some sort of “keep alive” thing in the background, lol! ^_^
Also, i guess i should mention the side-quest dungeon at the end… bloody hell… longest maze of a dungeon ever, no map, every passage looks the same, took me 1/3rd of my total gameplay time just to finish it.
Final things about gameplay… it’s quite short (25 hours for me), and really easy once you’ve mastered the combat system (especially at party level 6), none of that swearing and replaying the same boss over and over until you beat them, lol, but possibly too easy.
Characters/Voice Acting 7/10:
First things first, i didn’t listen to the US dub voice overs, it has Johnny Yong Bosch in it, so i guess that sums up my feelings on that.
As for the Japanese voices, there were two that stood out for me:
Yumiko Kobayashi as Beat, such a cute young boy, lol (i think that’s the first time i’ve said that ever), she totally captures the spirit of that innocence Beat has.
…and Mika Kanai as Salsa, really fun character. From first meeting i thought “she’s gonna be crap at fighting, but she *has* to be in my party, made of win!!”, and little did i know, she turned out to be my best fighter, brilliant at chaining combo’s together for hueg damage! She had some really funny moments during the game too, especially her interaction with Beat, and that hat scene (you’ll know if you’ve played it)…
(i LOL’d hard)
As for the other voice acting and characters, well everyone should know Aya Hirano (Off-topic: her last two solo singles have been terrible imo, trying to launch a jpop career off the back of anime fans, yeah, we can all see it, don’t forget the fans who made you popular.) was there as Polka, voiced it well, but not anything amazing, and the other characters were generally forgettable.
Overall (not an average of the above points) 9/10:
Extremely pretty game, great the way they integrated Chopin’s life, death, and music into a fantasy setting. And has a really really great battle system. Probably still not worth buying a 360 purely for this one game though.
+Amazing battle system
+Learnt a lot about Chopin
-No clothing changes
-Quite short, linear, and easy for an RPG
-Parts of the plot could have done with more fleshing out